Bamboo root barriers are vital for containing the invasive running bamboo. This article presents 5 bamboo root barrier practices in the UK Use them to stop your bamboo plants from invading other spaces.
Top tip for planting bamboo plants
Before planting the running or clumping bamboos, you should build a barrier especially when growing them as hedging plants. This is an important containment measure because as the runners and clumpers grow, they’ll either spread or expand, respectively.
Barriers can be root barriers, trenches, raised beds or contained structures – any that works for you.
Lay root barriers around matured bamboo plants
The problem with bamboo invading other spaces is due to a lack of care and attention. Bamboo like other plants will grow as long as the conditions are ideal.
Many bamboo growers are using the bamboo root barriers successfully. These barriers are often put in place before or after planting.
So, let’s start with how to build root barriers when you’ve inherited a bamboo or when your bamboo has outgrown its space in the garden.
1. Solid plastic bamboo root barriers
A solid plastic bamboo root barrier or narrow trench can stop the bamboo from spreading if you did not create a root barrier before planting the bamboo plants.
Building a bamboo root barrier is probably the most common intervention if you have not put any root barrier in the first place when planting your bamboo. But what are the options for root barriers?
Many DIY shops and online garden shops sell various root barriers. The best thing to do is to choose solid plastic sheets of bamboo root barriers. These barriers are flexible and bendable, tough and can last over 20 years.
To lay the bamboo root barriers, firstly, dig a narrow trench 30cm to 50cm along or around the bamboo. This is the ideal depth because bamboo rhizomes are in fact horizontal stems and do not grow deep into the dirt like other plants with taproots do.
Secondly, lay the tough plastic root barriers neatly into the trench with 10 cm to 15 cm layer above the ground level. The external layer will stop rhizomes from growing over the barrier as leaves and dirt build up over time.
The bamboo root barriers can cost anything from £30 to £250 depending on how thick and strong the plastic barrier is. You can find the tough bamboo root barriers at YouGarden.
An alternative to the reinforced plastic root barriers is patio slabs. They are a good barrier too, however you may have to cover the gaps between the slabs properly as you lay them down because the rhizomes will still make their way through any tiny gaps in the slabs.
2. Dig a narrow trench as a bamboo root barrier
If you want to save money, dig a trench 30cm to 50cm deep around the bamboo plant. The trench will help you to easily spot the rhizomes as they grow out so that you can trim them before they reach other spaces.
This may not be the best way to stop the rhizomes from growing into the garden, but it is often effective if you clean the trench and maintain it at least once a year. Spring is the best time to check the trench, clear any leaves and dirt and trim the rhizomes.
The two containment methods in 1 and 2 are necessary for those homeowners who may have inherited bamboo or others that have not placed a barrier before planting the bamboo.
Therefore, for the benefit of bamboo growers and homeowners, it is perhaps important to either build bamboo barriers prior to planting bamboo in the garden or simply plant bamboo in pots and containers.
3. Build raised bed – Could it be the best root barrier in the UK?
Here are three common ways many bamboo growers have used successfully to stop bamboo from spreading.
Bamboo roots, rhizomes and base buds do not grow deep into the soil though they form an intricate root network that is often tough, compacted and solidly strong. Raised beds are an effective way to elevate the rooting layer and spot the rhizomes (especially in running bamboos) as they spread and trim them.
For the clumping bamboos, raised beds are perfect because they enable you to see the new base buds, nodes and culms which makes it easy to thin the bamboo when they expand out of the beds.
Building raised beds does not have to cost a lot of money. You can use the solid materials that you already have such as patio slabs, rocks, bricks, treated timber or any material that can last for over 20 years.
As mentioned earlier, bamboo underground parts can reach a depth of about 50cm at the most. Not often do the roots of the common bamboo cultivars in the UK penetrate the soil deeper than half a metre.
So, a raised bed elevated at 50cm could be just enough to act as a barrier for growing both the running bamboo as well as the clumping bamboo.
4. Contained building structures
Some areas such as the boundary wall, driveway enclosures, or a backfilled area are perfect for planting bamboo for hedging and privacy screening. These building structures are already formidable barriers you do not have to create a new one.
One top tip though is to ensure that the soil is not too compacted, especially in the new building sites. Bamboo plants do not like compacted soil or soil that is high in pH, or acidic.
In such cases, prepare the area well by adding compost or loam soil before planting the running bamboo.
5. Use pots and containers as root barriers
Pots and containers are perfect bamboo root barriers. They are often the preferred medium for growing bamboos for small spaces and hedging screens.
Best of all, once you’ve planted bamboo in the pots and containers they’ll grow for years without having to worry about the bamboo invading other spaces.
However, bamboos do not like waterlogged and dry soils. In addition, the underground parts of bamboos such as the rhizomes, base buds and roots will quickly occupy the spaces in the containers.
In fact, these are the common shortfalls of growing bamboo in pots and containers, but they are the best solutions for growing running bamboo for privacy screens, garden hedging and for small outdoor spaces.
You can still grow bamboo in pots and containers and enjoy them. So, ensure the soil remains well-aerated, moist and well-drained. This will keep the bamboo happy, and they’ll thrive for many years.
Here are practical tips based on our experiences over the years and provide practical solutions to many problems bamboo growers face when planting bamboo in contained spaces.
Where to buy bamboo root barriers in the UK?
We would recommend using the tough plastic bamboo root barrier when planting the running bamboo such as Phyllostachys bamboos.
Though the clumping bamboos tend to behave well, it is a good practice to use root barriers when planting the Giant Timber Bamboo and other large clumping bamboo varieties for privacy screening or garden hedging.
Here is a list of renowned UK retailers where you can get the recommended root barriers and bamboo care and maintenance accessories from.
Slugs and Snails Killer
Feeds and Fertilisers
Heavy Duty Pots and Planters
Why it is important to put in bamboo root barrier before growing bamboo?
Maintaining bamboo plants is surely hard work. The intricate overlay of the rhizome and root network makes it difficult to dig, pull and remove the bamboos. You’ll have to do it bit by bit until you remove the whole lot or use a machine or additional help.
Therefore, it is vital to put in place a root barrier before planting bamboo in the garden, especially if you are growing the running bamboo near the boundary, driveways or close to the house. Alternatively, plant bamboo in pots and containers.
All in all, bamboo root barriers are vital for containing the invasive running bamboo and large clumping bamboos.
The 5 formidable ways of building the bamboo root barriers will help you to contain the bamboo from spreading in the garden. Always put in the root barrier before planting your bamboo.
Leave a comment and let us know about your personal experiences and what you think about bamboo and bamboo root/rhizome barriers.