Containing Bamboo in Seattle

'Containing' bamboo in plastic is like trying to cage a dragon in a chicken wire fence. If you completely surround your grove in a plastic 'barrier' you will soon find that you have a huge problem as the roots and aggressive rhizomes of this giant grass soon fill the containment and will escape over, through, even under the plastic.

You may have seen images like this:


bamboo seattle

This is almost the most dangerous way to try to maintain a bamboo grove. Note the length and depth of the trench. Planting bamboo in a lined trench like this will create a 'rootbound' situation very quickly. The bamboo will suffer from lack of space, lack of adequate nutrients as the containment will fill quickly with roots and rhizomes, replacing the soil with wood. Removing such a stand is a labor intensive job that takes specialized equipment and is almost impossible for the home gardener.

If the bamboo rhizomes go under the barrier you will have to remove layers of soil to get to them, increasing the work and problems associated with removal efforts.

The only thing that is worse than this is to surround a mature grove with the 'barrier'. A mature grove will fill the containment within a very short time, especially if the plant is threatened by digging and cutting the rhizomes in order to install the barrier.

Plastic rhizome barrier is useful as a 'fail safe' measure, but does not replace the necessary digging around the plant that is the preferred method of rhizome control. In other words, whether you install barrier or not the grove still needs to be maintained by digging around the perimeter at least once a year.

Seattle Bamboo has a very helpful page showing the problems associated with attempts to 'contain' bamboo: Seattle Bamboo

Here is a great article about bamboo containment that may answer many questions: Bamboo Containment in Seattle