Clump Bamboo: for privacy hedge near pool, plz help!

mikestanJanuary 30, 2006

Hi,

I'm in the middle of designing our backyard landscape and I'm thinking about using a clumping bamboo along our back wall behind our pool to give some height to our wall.

Picture

I like the Timor Black Clumping Bamboo, but am curious if I can keep the height managed to 15' rather than the suggested 40'. If I cut them back every year to say 15', will they be ok and will I get new shoot growth within that 15' range or will new shoots only grow near the top?

I live in Northern California, summers are in the low 100's and winters are in the low 30's. I don't want anthing invasive/runners, just something to help give me some more privacy by the pool. Also, to get a 10' wide wall of bamboo, how many bamboos would I plant? From pictures of the timor I've seen, I'm thinking maybe 3 plants in with a 3' spread between?

Anyways, any and all help is appreciated!

thanks,

mike

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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

You can top bamboo without ill effects; it's just a matter of esthetics and whether you are ok with how it looks. Once you top a bamboo it will never add any height on the topped culm...it's not like a shrub or tree. In effect, you'll only be topping new culms as they come up each year.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 2:55PM
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mikestan

ah ha, so would it be better to top them at different heights within my desired range to give it a more natural look, rather than chopping them straight across at 15'.
Also, can you recommend how many I would need to plant to cover a 10' section, and what size I should buy, 5gal vs. 7gal?
-mike

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 3:04PM
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mikestan

ah ha, so would it be better to top them at different heights within my desired range to give it a more natural look, rather than chopping them straight across at 15'.
Also, can you recommend how many I would need to plant to cover a 10' section, and what size I should buy, 5gal vs. 7gal?
-mike

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 4:31PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Your plan to plant them 3' apart sounds good...you just have to remember that the advantage/disadvantage with clumpers is that they are slow to spread out. As for topping, you can top them at any height and they'll stay that way. Just do it judiciously so it doesn't look butchered, and always cut right above a node so you don't leave a hollow tube for rainwater to collect and cause rot. As for size, I'd buy the biggest ones I could afford.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 5:59PM
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mikestan

kudzu,
I found some online that come in 3gal. containers and are 4/12 ft high. If I planted 3 of those 3' apart, how long do you think it would take them to reach say 7' and grow into each other? I'd like to buy bigger, but that's as big as they will ship, unless I can find local but who knows? And as far as cutting them, can you expand on your butchered comment, as I understand cutting them above the node, but is there anything else you'd recommend for a way to keep them a certain height, but still look natural?
thanks,
mike

p.s. - any rec's for where to buy online or local within Northern California?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2006 at 7:27PM
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bakev(9 BayArea)

Mike,

You might want to look at http://www.bamboogiant.com/ they are in Aptos (by Santa Cruz).

Also, FYI, I posted a reply to your post in the Tropicalesque Gardens Forum.

-Kevin

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 10:57AM
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mikestan

thanks Kevin, I did find the place in Aptos the other day online, so I'll be contacting them shortly. Thanks for your replies.
-m

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 11:26AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Mike-
If you're talking about filling a 10' wide space with 3 B. lako of that size, I think -- depending on your growing conditions -- that it will be a good 5 years before you get them to approximate a filled-in hedge...or even have to think about topping them. The other concern I have about B. lako (and other large bamboo) is that, once it matures, it tends to have less foliage near the ground than the top, so you could be topping a lot of the higher up foliage, and leaving lower culms that look a little bare. If you must top, don't do all the culms at the same height, so it will look a little more natural.

I know B. lako is beautiful, but I also have an alternate suggestion: get a smaller clumper (say, Bambusa multiplex 'Golden goddess'), that you won't have to crop. Or get an open clumper, like Yushania anceps, which acts like a clumper, but will spread out faster than a true clumper. However, it won't be so fast that you can't easily rhizome prune if it starts to move in the wrong direction (it simply doesn't send out long runners), and it only reaches a height of 12', so you wouldn't have to top it. Here is a picture of 3 of them (they're to the right of the lantern) that I planted against a 9' high fence.

That was right after planting; they've filled out nicely over the last 3 years, but I don't have a picture of that since I sold that house. My only concern in making this recommendation to you is that Y. anceps prefers something less than full sun, and your spot looks pretty sunny. Maybe someone here has some experience with growing it in your conditions.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 3:07PM
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socalboo

Or an otetea, which has dark brown/purple culms, and looks way more delicate than the lako. Also, having bamboos near my pool, including a half dozen big tropical clumpers, the otatea leaves are much easier on your pool equipment (particularly the skimmer) than the lako leaves. If you are in a windy area, this can mean the difference between cleaning the pool and skimmer daily, and doing it once per week.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 7:58PM
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orchidnuts(9a Florida)

Hi Mike,
I have lako and when it gets near freezing the leaves start to drop. I think you may not be happy with it. May I recommend B malingensis. It grows fast and has small leaves. It does get tall but I'm sure It can be topped. Also B textilis Gracilis would look nice. Ours grows fast and dosen't get too tall. Rich

    Bookmark   February 1, 2006 at 8:55PM
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