The Bamboo Barrier Installation Party

pcanMarch 13, 2011

I planted two running bamboos last year (Phyllostachys nigra & Phyllostachys decora). So this year it was time to get the barrier in before it "took over the world" lol.

We needed to dig an 85 foot long trench 28' inches deep which seemed like a long hard task. But I was able to trick all my relatives into coming over to dig by sending out an invite for a "Bamboo Party". I made it appear to be a party including pulled pork sandwiches and all. But I mentioned in the invite that a pick and shovel is required. lol

I had a great turn out and we were able to get the ditch dug in 4 hours with a lunch break. It only took us another 3 hours to install the barrier, fill it in and clean up.

Here are some pictures:

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stevelau1911

Wow, that's quite a bit of overkill in work. I have around 12 running bamboos in the ground, and I don't use barriers because they are much easier to control, and not even very invasive in the far north by Lake Ontario as people make it out to be.

Annual rhizome pruning can control them pretty easily, and I haven't even had to do that yet so if you are also way up in the north where I am, you might be putting in too much work.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 11:50AM
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pcan

We are not that far north. We are in the Salt Lake valley UT at about 4100 feet in elevation. I plan on pruning the rhizomes every fall within the barrier, but being so close to the neighbors fence line I did not want to take any chances. Overkill, maybe, but it was great family fun ;)

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 1:43PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

pcan-
You did a great job. I'm envious of the condition of your soil: it looks pretty diggable and not very rocky. With my hard pan soil, that job would have taken a couple of days using a jackhammer and a demo bar!

Now you don't have to worry, and, if you ever decide to sell your house, buyers won't be scared off because you have such a terrifying plant in your backyard!

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 3:08PM
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stevelau1911

I just noticed that your soil looks very easy to dig through, because there would be a huge pile of boulders/rocks if you tried to do that here. Now you just need to hope that those bamboos come back to life during the spring so all your hard work pays off.

BTW how cold did it get for you last winter? It got down to -9F here, along with 1-2ft of snow at all times, but none of my bamboos got completely defoliated even if they were above the snow line.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 5:48PM
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pcan

Kudzu, we do have good soil to work with, it is a sandy loam. Easy to amend with peat moss and compost.

Steve, I don't think we got below 0' here in the valley all winter. We had a lot of snow, about 1 ft most of the time. I was surprised they turned yellow like they did (but they have not lost their leaves) since my clumping bamboo stayed green. I think it may be because the clumping bamboo have protection next to a house and fence and the runners are out in the open. I did notice there are green shoots already on one of them so I have no doubt they will come back. We have been in the 50's and 60's for the last two weeks.

Today I spent the day out there finishing it up. Unfortunately I had no helpers today :(

I put down two wheel barrows of peat moss (only because I had some left over from another project), 8 wheel barrows of compost (didn't till, just layered) and 8 wheel barrows of wood chips. I am exhausted, but it was worth it.

The bamboo barrier comes in handy not only for controlling the bamboo, but to keep the irrigation out. We have an irrigation ditch along the back of our property with water rights so our entire back yard is watered all summer by flooding it about an inch deep. It works great and is cheap, but last year it kept washing all my wood chips on to the lawn.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 8:31PM
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stevelau1911

It looks like a job well done especially with the big contrast with the black mulch. I don't think P Decora is supposed to leaf burn in the single digits. I have both decora and nigra which stayed in my unheated greenhouse over winter which got down to 14F with frozen pots and they both got no leaf burn so maybe you had some very nasty wind-chills.

Those also look like new boos planted in 2010 based on their size so that probably makes them extra sensitive. Once they put on a little bit of size, they should be able to handle single digits without going blond.

They might still re-leaf as long as the leaf buds are still viable.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 9:59PM
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pcan

Steve, I did a little research since I have always been confused about my actual zone. I found that we get down to 0'F about once every 20 years. This year the coldest temp at my house was 4'F. I guess I have a micro climate were I am at. The mountains directly to the east and north block artic weather from us. We are also considered a semi-arid desert, meaning no humidity (in fact the second dryest state in the US, next to NV). That makes it so that even 4'F doesn't feel all that cold, not like it does in more humid places.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 6:09PM
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lucille(Houston)

Wow that is a gorgeous job, the shaped bed and mulch is going to make it a showpiece once the bamboo gets a little larger!

    Bookmark   March 14, 2011 at 9:35PM
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alan_l(6)

That is a very nice job! Since you didn't show photos of this part, how did you connect the barrier ends? I know some places sell a stainless "clamp" that gets screwed on, and some places sell a double-sided tape. I'm just curious which you used.

Also, I suggest next year that you bend the plants over to the ground and tarp over them for the winter. That will keep all green leaves and give them a faster size-up.

Finally, once your plants green up via new shoots/leafs or by leafing out on the existing culms, please post a follow-up photo. It's hard to find photos of bamboo grown in colder places (I think I had the same low temp in St. Louis as you did this winter) where there's total leaf loss, then showing how the plant came back the next year. Seeing that sort of thing would have made me much less nervous during my bamboo's first winter. =)

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 6:55PM
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pcan

Alan, I used the stainless metal clamp with bolts to connect the two ends.

Thanks for the suggestions about the tarp. I was just out there today and noticed the Ph Decora has one shoot (that was new last year) that still has green leaves so I am optimistic. ;) I will post some pictures in July of the progress they make.

Just for reference on the progress of the yard. This was what it looked like in the summer of 08' when we bought the house. We have been very busy and still have a long way to go. The pole on the right of the photo is the same pole you see to the right of the bamboo now.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2011 at 7:21PM
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silversword(9A)

Amazing progress Pcan!! I'm impressed. I hope they fill out nicely for you.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2011 at 11:45AM
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pcan

Hello everyone! I am back with some follow up info about my bamboo. They have come back and are gorgeous green again :) However, they aren't any taller (even a little shorter) than they were when planted last year. :(

I am disappointed, since I would love the shade and to block the view. They should be 20-30 feet tall but if they turn yellow each year and have to start from scratch I am afraid they will only be as tall as they are now.

I will post updated pics later this evening.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 4:56PM
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pcan

BTW, for being the most invasive plant in my yard, it sure is growing the slowest. ;)

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 4:58PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

pcan-
Be patient. Often, bamboo don't do a lot for the first three years. By year five it will be quite apparent why you were wise to install the barrier.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 10:00PM
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pcan

Here is the bamboo, pic taken yesterday. At least it proves one thing, that it survived :) This is my Black bamboo (the smaller one) and my Ph. Decora.

Here are some pics of my clumping Fargesia Rufa (Green Panda), they are doing great, doubled in size this year. I have two:

And here is a new addition to the yard we placed about 10 in front of the "bamboo grove".

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 11:21PM
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alan_l(6)

Wow -- your yard sure has changed! Definitely pin the running bamboo to the ground and tarp over this winter.

That rufa will eventually get pretty wide, so you'll end up moving some of those perennials. Mine looks like it was about that size in 2006, and now it's probably 6' wide (and 4' tall).

Looks great!

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 5:33PM
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pcan

Sorry I just realized I said the pond was 10 in from the running bamboo grove... That is about 10 feet not inches.

Alan I figured I would have to move some of the perennials around the bamboo and that's ok. That is actually part of my gardening hobby.. planting things then moving them. lol

I seem to do it a lot. You can't imagine the joy when a plant actually finds a permanent spot in yard ;)

    Bookmark   August 10, 2011 at 4:02PM
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