Bamboo in a Retaining Wall

lawnnewbeeMarch 15, 2010

I was wondering if any of you bamboo experts can help me out. I live in the suburbs of Chicago and I want to add some bamboo to my new landsaping plan.

The location that it will be will be on the side of my house (north side) within a 2-foot high stone barrier wall. The retaining wall runs around to the front of my house (west side) which goes to my front door. At the corner of the house (within the wall), I have planted a crabapple and that is all the vegetation currently there. I was interested in putting 2 maybe 3 areas of bamboo along the north side which is about 28 feet from the end of the wall to the crab tree. The wall is 4 feet off the house foundation.

My question are as follows:

Is the wall high enough to prohibit the bamboo from running through/under the wall into my lawn?

How close to the tree can I plant the bamboo?

What kind of bamboo should I plant if I want it to be 10 approx. 10 feet high at maturity yet be very unique? Clump, Running with barrier between the tree and bamboo.

I'm completely confused, and maybe bamboo isn't the best for my situation, but I love its look and really want to incorporate it into my new landscaping. I hope I didn't leave out any pertinent information.


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daveh_sf(San Francisco)

The 2' height of the wall is fine for preventng rhizomes from going under the wall into your lawn, but there are other concerns. If the wall is made of mortared stone, rather than reinforced concrete, the bamboo may eventually crack and break the wall. Another concern is how close to your house it is. Most bamboo leans out at least some, so if there is a pathway beteen the bamboo and the house you might not have enough room to get through. Also, you don't say how big the crabapple is now, but you might want to have that be a focal point and not have any bamboo of similar height near it. If it's 28' from the tree to the end of the wall, you could probably have room for a clump or two of bamboo near the end of the wall. There are many varieties, but you will be limited by your zone 5. You might want to browse through the species list at the ABS website.

Here is a link that might be useful: ABS website

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 7:36PM
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Sorry for the left-out info. It is a dwarf coralburst crabapple that is 3 inches diameter at the base (approx. 7 feet wide and 9 feet tall). I do want this to be a focal point, but not sure what else to put along the rest of the house length. I figured a clump of bamboo would look nice. It is an ordinary landscacping wall--4 inch high by 12 inch wide x 8 inch deep stones. It's not mortared or reinforced by any means. Each stone has a lip on the back where the weight of the stone ontop and the pressure from the soil behind keep it in place. I guess you can say it's porous. There is no walkway between the house and the wall. It simply grass, then 2 feet vertical of wall (stacked stones), then 4 feet horizontally of soil, then the foundation/siding. The bamboo would go within the 4 feet of soil. Would this work? Any type that you would recommend?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2010 at 7:59PM
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I would reccommend one of the many fargesias unless you plan on digging and splitting every 5-7 years. Runners will fill that little space in no time and let me tell you digging bamboo is not for the faint of heart. It is extremely hard to dig out. I have dug 10 groves so far and I would much rather dig a clumper than a runner. But If you don't mind the hard work I think runners look better. A good runner for your zone would be phyllostachys aureasulcata or yellow groove, or phyllostachys bisetti, or P. nuda, or p. atrovaginata or p. rubromarginata. In clumpers I would go with fargesia rufa, or fargesia scabrida. It just depends on what look you are going for and the amount of work you are willing to put into it. I also think that once your running bamboo runs out of growing area that it might travel deep enough to escape your wall especially if the dirt inside the wall is loose enough for the rhizomes to travel easily. In loose soil runners have been known to travel deeper than normal. I hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 8:20AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

Just be aware that, even with the hardiest bamboo, you are probably going to get substantial plant damage in the winter in your Zone. This would include foliage/culm loss, and -- in severe winters -- loss of the entire plant. For example, below is a link to a photo of Ph. nuda, one of the hardiest runners, exposed to winter temperatures of -12F.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ph. nuda in winter

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 12:11PM
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