Can I grow bamboo in the woods?

bdankApril 9, 2010


I am in need of a privacy screen to block the view of my neighbors. I live on two acres of wooded land in Northern Virginia (zone 7). There is about a 30 ft depth of woods between my house and this neighbor, but it does not provide a dense enough screen to give us the privacy that we would like. In the fall/winter I have full view of their house/deck/yard. I was thinking of planting some sort of evergreen trees, but (from what I've read) most grow slow and don't do well in shade. I have recently discovered bamboo as a privacy screen option. But I have no idea which bamboo I should grow (if any). I'm hoping you can help me decide. This is what I'm looking for:

1) fast growing

2) a very tall thick screen (I would like privacy on my second story deck if possible)

3) can be grown in wooded/shaded areas

4) can be grown in clay soil

5) tolerates cold winters (zone 7)

Can you recommend the type of bamboo that might work for me? Also, I have a very large yard and don't care how much of it the bamboo takes over. But, the area where I will plant this is wooded and there is no mowing, so how far would I have to plant it from the neighbor's yard to keep it from invading on them? Can bamboo grow up through underbrush or will I need to clear that out before planting? And finally, how many plants would I need (planted how far apart) to provide a decent 100 ft long privacy screen.

Thanks for your time!

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botanicalbill(9b SWFlorida)

Dont forget about eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana). Its cheap (Two bucks a plant) and native. Grows in very thick.

The link is a nursery that I have delt with before and ships nice plants. (I live in Florida and have nothing to do with cold stream farms.)

I dont want to knock bamboo but I love the look and smell of cedar, it will grow execelent in your area.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheap Red Cedar

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 2:50PM
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The problem with that tree is it takes 40 years to reach maturity. By the time it became a decent privacy screen I may not be around to enjoy it ;0)

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 3:42PM
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When you say "shade", does it get any sun at all, or is it full shade all day long?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 4:04PM
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In the late spring/summer there is only dabbled sunlight through the trees. In the early spring, winter and fall there is almost full sunlight because the leaves are off the trees.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 5:46PM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

This is definitely a possibility for you. I see you are in Zone 7, but can you describe your winters a little more as regards lowest temperatures, duration of below freezing weather, and the amount of snow?

    Bookmark   April 9, 2010 at 7:02PM
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Winters here are generally mild with very little snow. But this year was crazy, we had two snow blizzards with over 3 feet of snow. But this is not the usual weather here. We normally only get a few inches of snow a year, if that.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 10:16AM
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kudzu9(Zone 8a - PNW)

That's helpful, but I would also like to know about the winter temperatures because various bamboo have various hardiness ratings.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2010 at 9:02PM
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I'd be interested in finding out about this matter of discusion my self! I live in a much colder climate, but have the same situation; a patch of woods between my house and a public area. It was recently timbered, leaving no privacy! In my case I'm just concerned with not choking out the saplings and other indigenous plants that are trying to poke up through.
Best of luck with your garden, let me know what you end up with!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 10:28AM
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Your problem is the shade you describe. The bamboos that I am familiar with are sun lovers--they won't grow into shade. Soil should be less of an issue but they tend to prefer good drainage--while loving tons of rainfall year round.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 4:04PM
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It's gets as low as the 20's here in the winter. The lowest recorded temperature is -12 back in the 1940's

I've been thinking about Fargesia Robusta. Don't the clumping types like shade? And I was thinking if I go with a clumping type I won't have to worry about it spreading into the neighbor's yard. They sure are expensive though!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 5:44PM
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Yes, you are correct about Fargesia appreciating shade in warm/hot summer areas. You're also right about them growing at a much more modest pace--and being costly! I am trying to establish a bank of Fargesia and Borinda in an area that get direct sun all morning to early afternoon. They are doing fine but relatively slow. They may pick up though --as do the runners. We'll see. Phyllostachys species (the temperate runners) are sun lovers though.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2010 at 6:26PM
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can you plant a 'strip' of bamboo on your side of the woods.
that way if the one edge wanders into the woods a little you'll be OK and on the other side your lawn/house side you'll just control the spread with your lawnmower. If you can get around 6 hrs. of good sun. You should be able to grow a running type.As long as the bamboo isn't on the north side of the woods you'll probably be OK.
You could also just go for some native hollies and sweet bay
they should be evergreen and grow fine in the area you describe. Hardiness shouldn't be an issue on either of those. I think you could probably find sweet bay magnolia
for relatively cheap. I've seen 10-15 gallon plants that
were easily 6-8' for around $30.00, hollies will definitely
be able to grow there as well,go for some of the taller
types.Again these should be able to be gotten for relatively
cheap at anywhere specializing in native plants. Both the
magnolia and hollies can/should be planted right in the 'woods' or along the edge.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2010 at 8:17AM
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I grow Japonica here in the shade with great success. In our climate it acts as a running clumber, not spreading as vigorously as the Phyllostachys I have but filling in and screening the property line with a profusion of close packed culms. It's also drought, shade and cold tolerant and does well in pots and can be divided and multiplied easily. An excellent bamboo for many uses.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 7:24PM
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Arrow Bamboo, will grow just fine in your application, I have it buffering a cabin in a very shady environment and it is flourishing!!! dipped into the low teens at the Cabin this year and it was not affected at all..this bamboo is a runner but with Clumping tendencies....good luck

    Bookmark   April 18, 2010 at 7:59PM
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