Durability of Bamboo Fences

joshin(5)October 23, 2007

I am new to this forum. I am a Zen teacher and Zen Buddhist Priest living in Chicago. I am the Abbot of the Zen Community of Oak Park - Emtpy Sound Temple. I am in the process of designing my first Japanese Contemplative Garden for our temple, which is a beautiful old Victorian house in a residential neighborhood. So I am grateful there is a forum like this where I can learn more from other peoples' experiences.

I have already started to set a rock path which is working out very well.

But I was surprised to read on one of the posts here someone saying that bamboo generally only last 5 to 7 years. That seems like a very short time, for the cost involved. Many of the bamboo suppliers say it will last 20 years.

I have also ready others saying that after about 5 years time, it starts to look pretty tattered and funky.

So I'm trying to decide whether to put in a bamboo fence, which I find aesthetically very pleasing, or, perhaps, be more practical and put in a cedar fence, which is what everyone in our neighborhood here in Oak Park puts in.

My question is this - does any one here have actual experience with a bamboo fence of a longer duration than 5 or 7 years?

I would appreciate your feedback.


Robert Joshin Althouse

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joefromsd(San Diego)

You're right, bamboo fences don't hold up for very long, especially exposed to alot of heat and sunlight. People can coat all the canes, and even the tie cord with marine varnish, for UV protection (min. 3 coats), and that works very well, but you have to maintain it! You need to do a mildew wash, lightly sand and re-coat, every year!

Larger canes split more than smaller tighter canes, and you should always cut a vertical cane with a node at the top.

A good protection is to design a wooden roof over the bamboo fencing. I've even used copper H cap (get it made up at a sheet metal shop) to cap straight runs of bamboo fencing. Looks pretty nice after awhile.

There are some very nice wooden fence styles you could use though, and maybe only use a short section of bamboo.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 8:25PM
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Thanks for the reply.

I'm still not sure about this.

The Bamboo Fencer in Massachusetts sells a very hard bamboo called Iron Bamboo that they claim lasts 20 years. It's not supposed to crack or split either. It's not as straight as some of the other bamboos, but it's very tough and thick.

I understand it will turn grey over time, and that can be forstalled by different treatments of the bamboo, but cedar also turns grey.

So perhaps the durability of bamboo also has to do with the kind of bamboo that is used for the fence. What do you think?

thank you,
Robert Joshin Althouse

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 7:16AM
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joefromsd(San Diego)

I've never seen that type bamboo Robert so I can't say, but yeah, some types definitely split alot more.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2007 at 8:20AM
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yama(7b Ga)

Dear Joshin zenshi
we normaly use Madake and moso bamboo for fence making. some fence like "ajirogaki" use shino dake. In south eastern US, I can find find enogth bamboos on ground to make fence.

In your area Easter star trading company carry bamboo. Check American Bamboo soceity's web site to find bamboo also.
We expect bamboo fence last about 5 year more or less. Bamboo fence is not for permanent fence.

Since you are Buddhist monk, you may not have enough budget. ^^.

I am buddhist and professinal gardener. I reguraly visit to Chinese Purland temple( dojo) and Korean zen temple/ Chogyo order.

If you need to have free publication of Buddhism for fellow buddhits, I can make arrengement also.
Please contact to me at
If I may to ask you what zen sect do you teach?

I am gradly help you
Gasho. mike yamakami

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 12:40AM
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joefromsd(San Diego)

Thank you Yama, I was hoping someone who really new about bamboo fences would come along!

Yama, can you tell us what the proper name for a roofed fence is? Someone asked about it in the thread below, and I'd like to know too.

Here is a link that might be useful: roofed fence

    Bookmark   October 29, 2007 at 9:03AM
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