Bamboo Root Barrier: Keeps Bamboo Firmly Under Control!

How to block Bamboo

Bamboo - it’s incredible stuff. Fast growing*, the largest member of the grass family**, tough as steel, edible (by Pandas at least) and beautiful. But, put the wrong kind of bamboo in a residential garden and it can be a recipe for disaster. Bamboo comes in two types, clump forming and running. As you can guess, clump forming pretty much stays put, whereas running bamboo will, well, run. Left unchecked, running bamboo will spread all over your garden and your neighbour’s garden if you’re not careful. This type of scenario does not do much for your popularity. Thankfully, there are bamboo root barrier solutions to hand, whether you’re planting bamboo from scratch or dealing with an established bamboo that’s running riot

How does bamboo spread?

Bamboo spreads by putting out rhizomes (underground stems). These can grow very quickly under the right conditions, creating new shoots many metres away from the parent plant. Fortunately, most bamboo rhizomes tend to sit in the top 20 cm of topsoil, reducing the effort it takes to get at the bulk of the migrating shoots.

Using bamboo root barrier to prevent spreading

The best way to prevent the spread of bamboo is by controlling the rhizome. An appropriate root barrier, like FlexiRoot UV10 HDPE root barrier, can be used to contain the rhizomes of a new planting. The barrier is best left open along one side or section; this allows drainage to occur and offers a way to trim the rhizomes once each year. This can be done by cutting through the rhizomes with a spade and digging/pulling out every bit of the cut sections. The top edge of the barrier itself needs to stand above ground level by around 15 cm. A bark mulch can be used to fill the area to hide the visible bamboo root barrier. FlexiRoot UV10 HDPE root barrier has built in resistance to damage from sunlight, making it ideal for situations where some of the bamboo root barrier remains exposed after the installation.

If you’re already facing a runaway rhizome scenario, with bamboo shoots in places they shouldn’t be, you’ve got a slightly harder, but not impossible task. Full containment would be the way to go, but using a permeable bamboo root barrier (not weed mat!) to allow good drainage. After digging a trench all the way around the bamboo stand to about 50 cm and, after removing all the bits of rhizome you find, the barrier can be installed and the trench backfilled. BioRoot-X Barrier is a really versatile bamboo root barrier product that allows drainage to occur whilst preventing roots and rhizome from escaping.

* The world record for the fastest growing plant belongs to a bamboo, which has been found to grow at up to 91 cm per day. If that bamboo was driving a car, it would be doing 0.00002 mph. Not bad for a plant.

**According to the RHS Dictionary of Gardening, the tallest bamboo recorded to date was found in the tropics at a height of 40 m (130 ft). If you were sitting at the top of London Eye, you’d be eye to eye with the top of the stems!

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