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Questions on screening

Posted by sjhoag NC (My Page) on
Wed, Jul 1, 09 at 17:49

My wife and I are looking for a way to screen our backyard from our neighbors in back of us. We really want to go natural and have been trying to decide what type of hedge to use. I have read that bamboo is fast growing and we really love the look as well. We would really like something fast growing though. Our neighbors are loud and have a bunch of dogs that are constantly getting off the chain. We have a chain link fence at the moment, but that is just not cutting it. Any information on type, spacing, and rate of growth would be much appreciated. The span that we need to cover is just shy of a hundred feet.

Thank you in advance.


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Questions on screening

  • Posted by kudzu9 Zone 8b, WA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jul 2, 09 at 13:30

Bamboo is relatively fast growing, but it usually doesn't hit a real growth spurt until its third year in the ground. To cover a 100 foot space at a reasonable cost, you would probably want to plant running bamboo, as that will fill in fastest. However, because it is running, you will need to decide whether you are going to install bamboo barrier around the perimeter or whether you intend to control it by rhizome pruning (shovel and pickaxe work) once or twice a year.

In your Zone, you should be able to find quite a few species that are evergreen. You would probably be looking at bamboo in the Phyllostachys genus as these are the most commonly available hardy bamboo in the U. S. Because you will likely be planting your plants close -- maybe about 5' apart -- you will need quite a few, and that could get pricy. It would be good if you could find someone in your area whose bamboo has gotten out of control, and see if they are willing to let you remove some for free. Digging is a whole other subject, so re-post if you need advice in that area.

You should also plant several species of bamboo: bamboo flowers very infrequently (like once every 20-150 years) but, when it does, all the plants of that species will typically decline and die off over a several year period. That's why it is never a good idea to go with only one species of bamboo in a long hedge. Finally, while the bamboo will give you visual screening after a couple of years, there is no hedge that will cut down a lot on the noise from your neighbors.

RE: Questions on screening

I would give some serious thought as to using a spreading bamboo to help you with your obnoxious neighbors. An aggressively spreading bamboo that will eventually expand into their yard will not help the situation. If you put in a running bamboo, you really need to consider containment (both on your account and your ignorant neighbors). Some people contain runners by regular mowing, rhizome barriers, digging trenches and/or regular pruning of the rhizome--if all else fails you could always move. Keep in mind though that even bamboo will take a few years to take off and really establish a grove. Also, have you ever been in a mature bamboo grove of Phyllostachys? It's not like they are impenetrable to either dogs or humans--you could run through a grove of timber Phyllostachys as most of the foliage is well above your head. So, if you go with a running bamboo, I would suggest a medium or shorter growing bamboo--maybe Pseudosasa japonica. They form a nice hedge, are denser and even more manageable than the taller Phyllostachys. I have just started growing clumping bamboos (Fargesia and Borinda) but they seem to be much slower growing than Phyllostachys. Bamboo may be an option you you but there are others (Barberry for example). I personally don't like the Barberry for the thorns but a bit of research based on your growing conditions (sunlight, soil, etc) might yield alternatives to bamboo. I've used any of the following for "privacy hedges" with success: Photinia "red tip", Rhododendron, Holly, Canadian Hemlock, Privet, Boxwood, Taxus (yews), Magnolia grandiflora, in addition to Phyllostachys (vivax, viridis, nigra, and aurea) If the shrubs/trees you select are tall enough though they WILL help to cut down on the noise from your neighbors.

RE: Questions on screening

Thorns make for great neighbors, a little hawthorn instead of bamboo perhaps?

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