Thinking About Planting Bamboo? Think Again….

“It’s the clumping kind”

“If you plant it in the pot and cut out the bottom it won’t spread”

Have you heard these claims?  I have, and I fell for them.  I love the look of bamboo, the sound of bamboo rustling in a gentle wind, the quick screening it provides…what I don’t love is that the bamboo I planted was scheming to take over not only my yard but the whole neighborhood.   Over the two years it was growing it was secretly spreading underground until suddenly it started popping up all over, in some very inconvenient places – like in my neighbor’s yard.

I planted Black bamboo (Phyllostachys nigra), which is supposed to be clumping (meaning it should not spread but grow in a controlled fashion)  As a safety precaution I also planted it within its container with only the bottom of the container removed (just in case it decideds to spread it can’t).  I’m not the only one, some very good friends of mine planted this same variety, in the same manner, a year earlier and they are now finding shoots 10 feet away, with some coming up through the their raised beds.

It was clear the bamboo had to go – and so began Operation Bamboo Extraction.  I have to say it was one of the most back-breaking projects I’ve taken on to date…meaing in my whole life.  I had to start digging in the neighbors yard and trace all the roots back the fence line.  I had lots of help from the neighbor’s 3-year-old daughter who loves dirt and loves to “help”.  I just had to keep her from falling into the holes I was propagating throughout their yard.

Once I got the problem contained back in my yard I started digging…and digging…and digging….

The whole process took me over a week.  Once I was able to get the root balls free I had to enlist help to actually get them out of the trench and into the truck.  I was left with complete mess. In the end I was sorry to lose the bamboo, it served me well during our time together but I came up with a much better use of the space.  You will see this amazing transformation in my upcoming blog post entitled “My Orchard”.

The Learning?  I’m sure if I put my mind to it I could come up with some deeper message about trying to control something you can’t, trying to force something to behave in a way that is not natural to it just to suit my needs…and the only way to truly address the problem was to dig it out by the roots…but I’m not feeling that clever at the moment…it was just a VERY difficult project so take heed my friends when the temptation to plant bamboo overcomes you too.

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