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Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Posted by jasonlmarsh 7 (jasonlmarsh@yahoo.com) on
Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 17:11

I'm hoping to get a little advice and/or comments here.

I have a 2 story house overlooking my back yard & patio. To make matters worse, they installed some super bright down-lights in the 2nd story eaves that wash out my whole backyard (including bedroom windows) and they are set to stay ON from dusk till dawn. It really ruins the ambiance of the patio area in the evenings, especially the Hot Tub area! So A hedge of Bamboo along the fence line is in order.

I've prepared a spot along the fence, and intend to trench and apply some 20" flashing to help keep the bamboo on my side of the fence. Our soil is pretty heavy clay so I hope 20" is deep enough. The trench will be about 12" from the fence so I can still get back there to check on rhizome growth. My first question is whether I should fully encircle the bamboo grove with the barrier? Or just put it along the fence line and curve the ends inward toward my property? The bamboo grove will be about 50' long and about 3'-4' deep. My side of the bamboo is lawn for about 15' to my house. I mow weekly during the spring/summer/fall, will that be enough to keep it contained? If I go that route, will it do any damage to my house foundation, patio, or sidewalk? I really dont want to have to trench all the way if I can keep from it (It's on the easement with lots of underground utilities, so I have to do it by hand).

Next, what is the fastest way to get a good 15-20 foot tall grove to block out the house? I have (2) one year old potted P.nigra bamboo plants that are pretty thick, but only about 18" tall that I will put in the ground. How long would it take those to fill in that area? or should I buy 4 or 5 more plants, and if so how big should I get them?

Thanks for any help, I really appreciate this site!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

I have several observation to make, and, unfortunately, they are mainly negative:

1) If you are going to put in a barrier of flashing, it will eventually corrode and fail, even though it's galvanized. You won't realize it immediately, because the rhizomes may travel pretty far underground before they send up culms. When new growth shows up 10 feet into your neighbor's yard, you will then have a pretty widespread rhizome system well-established where you don't want it. Therefore I am encouraging you to use regular bamboo barrier, which is a thick, high-density, non-corroding plastic.

2. I tried to get by for years with minimal barriers, and practiced rhizome pruning to keep it under control. However, with a lot of bamboo, particularly, something as aggressive as Black bamboo, it's hard to keep it 100% under control without a barrier. Your plan to mow down new growth will wipe out new culms, but it won't control subsurface expansion of the rhizome system. After you mow it, the rhizomes will just keep spreading and moving toward all the perimeters of your yard (and your neighbors' yards). If you want to not worry about this, put barrier on all sides of your hedge.

3) Regardless of where the rhizomes go, they will not damage intact foundations, concrete slabs, or underground piping. They might go between big cracks in a concrete block foundation, but wouldn't damage it, like a tree root would. However, if the rhizomes get under asphalt, which is a very pliable material when hot, the rhizomes will cause very noticeable humps to form.

4) Starting with 18" tall plants will not give you the hedge you want for many years. It will take a year or two after you put those plants in the ground before they put up any significant new growth. To get a Black bamboo hedge from them that is 15'-20' high will take more than 5 and possibly as much as 8-10 years. If you want results sooner, you need to start with much bigger plants.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Ah, Thanks for the comments. I wasn't sure about the galvanized flashing, but I can get the same stuff in Aluminum for $10 more, which is still a little more than half the price of the Plastic stuff I'm finding online. Plus I can get it locally. Do you think the Aluminum should be as good as the plastic as far as corrosion resistance?

I will definitely take your advice on completely circling the bamboo with barrier. I did not think about it going out into the yard and then changing directions and going around the barrier ends back into the neighbors yards. Now if I can just find some bigger bamboo plants so the privacy screen gets a jump-start.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

I just don't know about the corrosion of aluminum in the ground. It may vary depending on the pH of your soil. What kind of price are you finding on regular bamboo barrier?


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Jason, if you want some large Golden bamboo plants, free, I know who you can call! Bring a shovel! :)


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

LOL Mia, i emailed you about an hour ago :-) drop me a line and lets work something out .


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

  • Posted by pcan 7 UT (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 3, 12 at 10:27

I put in a bamboo bed and used the regular bamboo barrier circling the bed with the proper brackets and overlap to keep it contained. However, I still dig a trench and cut down into the ground just inside the perimeter to keep the rhizomes from pushing up against the barrier each fall. And once the bed gets more established I will do regular rhizome thinning each fall so it doesn't get too crowded. May seem like a lot of work, but not really. Just once a year get out there and do some maintenance in late fall.

Also I planted black bamboo and ph. decora in June 10', it yellowed the first winter and didn't get any taller in summer 11' but did get wider. This winter it stayed green so I am expected some growth this year. Kind of give you an idea of how slowly it can get started.

But, listen to Kudzus advice, I have done a lot of searching for information about bamboo over the net and he is spot on.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Jason, your email went to spam but I just found it and emailed you back!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks everyone for your comments and advice. I found a local place to buy the plastic 24" rhizome barrier. So this past weekend I trenched in the barrier with a couple inches above the ground. Next weekend (weather permitting) I will be digging up some large plants from Mia's backyard. Hopefully I will be able to get enough plants at full height to have an instant privacy hedge. I'll post some before & after pictures when it's all done.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Some of my thoughts on the taller plants, and I would love for more experienced peeps to chime in... this is more based on my experience with perennials, shrubs, etc, and not bamboo, so I don't know how the circumstances differ.

Would shorter, bushier plants be better supported by the smaller root system in the transplant? i.e., dig from the fringes of the grove rather than the middle, where you can get transplants of waist-and-chest high plants?

It seems that the full height plants (I'd guess these are 14-18 feet high) might not be as successful transplanting as they need to have much more extensive root system to maintain the taller top growth.

I'd guess that the top growth would mostly die back, while the roots develop further, then the plant would regenerate from the rhizome, so essentially, by transplanting full height plants you might be pushing yourself back to having much smaller plants in the next season. If you transplant smaller plants with more compact growth, will they reach the full potential of fast growth in the first year? I've heard some bamboos can grow culms a foot a day. Not sure if Golden is of that same speed.

For most perennials, it seems the first year is kind of "eh" as all energy is put into root development, the second year it starts to take off, and the third year it is going great. Is this similar for bamboo transplant life cycle?


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

You could be right, on having better luck with shorter plants, but I dont know. I might try to take a combination of tall & short (really, whatever you are allowing me to take) and see how they all work out. Maybe I can stagger the short plants between the taller ones.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia-
If the transplants have been potted up and look healthy after about 6 months, then it means they are stabilized and it shouldn't matter what size they are when they are planted. You're right that a smaller, established plant that is dug up and then transplanted will probably be easier to keep healthy than a large division that is dug up and transplanted because there will be less shock. But that also assumes it is an established plant...not something that came up several months ago.

I've dug up large divisions (with large root balls) many times and they were just fine. Basically, a large division is usually going to: 1) do well, or 2) be in shock for a few months (maybe even dropping lots of leaves) and recover, or 3) die within 6 months. If it doesn't die, the little healthy plant is never going to catch up with it.

Whatever bamboo you put in the ground will usually take at least 1-2 years to get established, even with no shock. So planting small plants is not a shortcut to having them promptly spring up into much larger plants.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks, Kudzu. Jason is going to come and dig from my smallish backyard bamboo grove, but I've just recently acquired it so don't know what is the preferred way of doing things. I think we will see about doing a combination of bigger and medium plants - a lot will depend on the stamina of the people doing the digging, I think.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia-
Do you know what is involved in taking a proper division? There's more to it than just digging. If you want me to send you some info on how to go about it, click on "My Page" and email me.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks, Kudzu, you helpfully sent me division instructions back in December and I have shared them with Jason. Appreciate your help!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Yes thanks Mia & Kudzu9 I have read through the instructions. Hopefully things will go well. I'm just watching the weather right now. Looks cold & wet, so we might need to wait another week. Although I think the rain might make the digging go easier.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia-
I send those instructions out often enough that I forgot you already had them! Wet is good for taking divisions...Good luck.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia, thank you so much for letting me come dig up some bamboo from your yard! I hope we didn't leave too much of a mess. And thanks to everyone who posted here.

This turned out to be much harder than I expected, but I managed to get a few 20' tall plants, some 6'-8' plants and a bunch of smaller ones. I also damaged a few tools, and I think I gave myself nerve damage or just bruised soft tissue around the kneecap when I went down to a knee right on 3 small bamboo stubs that were about 1" tall. OUCH!

Some of the smaller plants had the leaves roll up on me by the time I got them in the ground (they were out for about 3-4 hours. I soaked them really well and by the next morning the leaves has mostly unrolled. I'll be sure to keep these plants really wet for awhile!

So here is the main reason for my bamboo transplant. As you can see here from the patio/hot tub area, the 2 story house gives you NO feeling of privacy whatsoever.

After the plants You can see there is a little more privacy, but when they fill in, it will be the perfect view!

And this view is from my master bedroom window. This window is a bay window, so you are seeing the same angle that the window has. Notice all of the lights that shine into my bedroom at night, and the speaker/tv placement that is sometimes left on too late at night, while it's "owners" are inside watching the other tv....

Once the bamboo fills in a little more, the lights will be blocked, and hopefully there will be a little sound deadening as well.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Looking good, Jason! You know where to call if you want any more bamboo to fill in any gaps - once you get feeling back in your legs and arms, that is.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

HAHA, I have you on speed dial. Maybe another week or so I'll try to come get a little more. I see a lot of buds on the rhizomes I planted, so I'll have to hurry.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Jason, how has your privacy boo hedge fared over the last year? We're tackling our bamboo this year (digging it where it's gone out of the main grove, and thinking of either a trench or barrier installation to maintain the area) and I was wondering about you!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia, It is growing like crazy. I had some shoots back in september/October, but not not that many. This past 2 weeks I probably have over 100 new shoots coming up. A few of them have reached about 8 feet tall, and there are more on the way. I'm very happy with the growth and I think it will look great as soon as these new shoots pop out their limbs. I only had 1 rhizome run out across the yard, so as soon as I saw shoots coming up in the grass, I dug up that rhizome. I think I will probably go ahead and trench in a barrier on my side this spring so that I'll have less hassle. I also cought 1 rhizome hopping over the barrier by the fence, so I cut it back as well.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Great! Sounds like it will really get to filling in soon. Ours has been shooting, too, lots in the yard and flowerbeds of course, so that's got the containment methods at the top of our minds. We've already had shoots go over 6 feet this year, in only the last week or so. They really can grow a foot a day, it's amazing. If we get closer to pulling the trigger on the barrier (last night I lobbied for trench rhizome pruning, Mike is still for the physical barrier) I might see if I can impose on you to come see your barrier in person. He thinks if he cannot easily see it (in the trench, if we mulch in it or whatever and only rake out the mulch spring and fall to check on rhizomes) that we'll be in the same boat that we are right now with escapees. IIRC, the barrier was about $3/ft at the place on 10th, so cost is a factor, too. Trench = free with labor, barrier = spendy.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Just my opinion, but if you're going to the trouble to trench it, you should go ahead and drop in the barrier. I have no worries about the bamboo going through that and under my neighbors fence. I just wish I'd have fully circled mine with the barrier like was mentioned above. I will probably go ahead and do it this spring/summer. There's really nothing to see once it's installed. If you look toward the fence in this picture, you will see about a 2" black edge sticking up from the ground. That is the top edge of a 24" wide strip of barrier. So in other words, it's buried in a trench almost 2 feet deep. It's real easy to catch the rhizome hopping over it, and if it hits underground, it will turn the rhizome up, left, or right, but there's no way it's going to puncture through it.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Cool, thanks for the pic, I'll share with my husband. We won't know until we get in there if we can really get the barrier in at all. There are several full sized trees "in" the bamboo, whose root zones I'm sure extend way into the yard and I don't want to kill the trees by chopping off too many roots. We're also in our utility easement with the 'boo and have no idea as to each utilities' depth, plus possible plumbing and electrical lines running through for the pool. It will be an adventure to try to get barrier in!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia-
You are not going to damage your bamboo by chopping off even a large number of rhizomes. Bamboo are grasses. Despite their size, they are not like trees. All the plants you have already growing are fully self supporting and they send out rhizomes mainly to expand...not draw in nutrients. You could probably chop your whole grove into foot square pieces and suffer little or no loss.

Your main concern should be hitting a utility line, not a rhizome. And you can generally have your local utilities come out and mark all of the utility lines very accurately. In my area, one phone call results in all the utilities showing up within 2 days at no cost. They use locating equipment and mark with various colors of spray paint.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks, kudzu. I meant I'm worried about literal trees and their root zones; there's a huge Texas live oak, Asian pear, a redbud and several evergreen bushes that I think started out in the foreground of the bamboo and have now been engulfed by it. I don't want to kill those trees by damaging their root zones when trenching.

Our utility will come mark for free within a few days, too, we've had the lines marked a few times.

Unfortunately, the bamboo grows right over some of the lines and they cannot get into the grove to mark some. The paint lines weave in and out of the bamboo based on what they can reach.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks, kudzu. I meant I'm worried about literal trees and their root zones; there's a huge Texas live oak, Asian pear, a redbud and several evergreen bushes that I think started out in the foreground of the bamboo and have now been engulfed by it. I don't want to kill those trees by damaging their root zones when trenching.

Our utility will come mark for free within a few days, too, we've had the lines marked a few times.

Unfortunately, the bamboo grows right over some of the lines and they cannot get into the grove to mark some. The paint lines weave in and out of the bamboo based on what they can reach.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia-
Sorry to confuse the issue. I thought you were referring to the bamboo as "trees," which people often do. Re-reading your post I see what you really meant.

As for addressing the situation you face, that's a tough one. I would be equally cautious about taking out roots of real trees, but I have previously sacrificed one or two to deal with a similar issue. If you have a lot of big tree roots, that makes it harder. However, even placing barrier which is discontinuous will help with the control issue.

As for the utility lines, it would be good to ask how deep they bury them. In my area, only the cable tv lines are close enough to the surface to be a problem. I have sometimes placed barrier as shallowly as 18" with good results.

Good luck. It would be interesting to hear back about your experiences when you are finished.

This post was edited by kudzu9 on Sun, May 12, 13 at 14:32


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia, Hopefully the tree roots go more "down" than "out". The neighbor behind me planted a Willow tree about 2 feet from our fence (smart huh... a giant willow 2 feet from the fence). I only hit 1 root from that tree when digging my trench. Maybe you'll get lucky, as long as you can stay 5 or so feet away from those trees.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Thanks, Kudzu and Jason. It's good to know even a discontinuous barrier will help somewhat (and of course, now that the house isn't practically abandoned, we'll be mowing the yard and the runners that might escape through the areas near the larger trees should be mowed/dealt with sooner.) We can hope that our root zones are as friendly to barrier as that willow, Jason!

I won't hijack this thread any more, I'll start a new one with pics of our bamboo and elevation changes soon, and will update with pics as we get towards the barrier stage. This forum has been so helpful to us and I'd like to contribute our experience to help others!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Hello All!

My understanding of Phyllostachys nigra is non invasive clumped bamboo . This bamboo is a " running " species?


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Paulie-
Ph. Nigra is not only a runner, but one of the more aggressive ones. All Phyllostachys are. I guarantee it.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Kudzo9 Thankyou so much! The nursery at fast growing trees .com states its a clumped non invasive that's why I'm confused.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Paulie-
There is a clumping black bamboo, but it is semi-tropical, and would not survive in your Zone. If it's a Phyllostachys, it's a runner...and it causes me concern about how knowledgeable that nursery is. If you are looking for a clumper that will be hardy in your Zone, get one of the Fargesias.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

I highly recommend Fargesia! Don't know too much about the other species of Fargesia, but rufa (Green Panda Bamboo) seems to do fine in the Northeast. Mine gets an Eastern exposure, gets mostly dappled sun due to fence and tall oak tree nearby. I bought a single, small pot (it was expensive at the time--like $16.99. Every year I divided the clumps, and in a few short years I have a dense 6 foot row of it. Also am growing the clumper Borida angustifola which is also elegant. P. nigra is definitely a runner though. As Kudso says, there is a tropical one that is clumping and also goes by the name 'Black Bamboo'. Am also going to experiment with Bambusa multiplex (supposed to be hardy to 10 F., it's a sub tropical clumper) and at least I won't have to worry about taking over. Suffice to say, my running (bamboo) days are over.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

i read the whole thread…great stuff everyone…Im learning the real basics of bamboo!…….Man o man!dont you just love thy neighbor!!Man i wish i could find someone with some free bamboo….

Thanks again, Bob


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Just an update to this thread. We had a big ice storm that covered everything with an inch or so of ice. All of the bamboo laid over onto the ground for about 4 days. It all stood back up once the ice melted. About 75% of the leaves all turned brown, although the main stem of the plants are still green. If my understanding is correct, those leaves will not regenerate right? and I will have to wait for new shoots to give me some new greenery?


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

If it didn't get too cold, they could still releaf. Even in zone 7, the coldest temperatures could fry p nigra.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Hey, Jason, wanted to post a pic of the parent bamboo - it's almost all yellow from the cold temps but I'm not too worried, think it will be back. :) Pardon our mess, we are doing some construction around our pool. When we rebuild the retaining all, there will be a rhizome barrier on the backside of the cinderblock wall.

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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

I looked at the pictures before I read the text and I thought you were building the world's most bombproof bamboo enclosure...then I realized it was actually your pool!


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Ha ha! You know how people are really afraid of bamboo escaping? Just build an 8 foot deep, 12 inch thick, concrete bowl! The drainage wouldn't be ideal, but .... :)


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Mia,
I was wondering how your bamboo was doing after all the ice a few weeks ago. Mine took it pretty hard. Most of the smaller plants look completely dead, and may be. The bigger healthier plants look mostly brown but do still have some green in them. I'm waiting for spring to see what starts shooting and cut out the rest.

Looks like you are going to have a great backyard escape this summer.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

Anyone interested in a partial bamboo swap/trade in Seattle area? I live in Seattle and have been researching tall clumping or running bamboo. I have 16 large nursery pots (24 gallon) of mature Golden (at least 4 years old that have been split/repotted a year ago). I'm looking for something a bit more shade tolerant and preferably greener. I prefer green to yellow, black, or red, though I'm flexible. My bamboo needs (feel free to chime in if you have a species you think would work for this scenario): I'm trying to screen out a 3-story apartment building on the western border of our property. I am a little apprehensive about the use of aggressive runner bamboo in an urban area (even w/ rhizome barrier) but I've researched my options online and it seems the only very tall clumpers (which thrive here) are Borinda Boliana, or Chusquea Gigantea. The B. Boliana I've heard might not over-winter well and possible isn't upright enough to act as a screen. I'm concerned about using a timber bamboo like C. Gigantea since I'm not sure how manageable that size would be in our 5K sf lot. I'm looking for something w/ a very upright habit (maybe Semiarundinaria fastuosa viridis, green temple bamboo) and maximum screening capabilities that will reach a height of at least 25'. Any recommendation for good bamboo screens would be very much appreciated. FYI: this bamboo would only have direct sunlight in the morning as the western apartment building would block afternoon sun. The soil is on the rich, loose side, though I'm not sure of its acidity.
Thanks in advance for any info you can provide.


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RE: Starting my Black Bamboo (P.nigra) this weekend

My money is on the S. fastuosa to do the best screening job due to its dense foliage and erect habit. It may also get taller faster than the others you mentioned. But it is a runner so you should put in barrier.


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