What’s the best spacing for bamboo screens or hedges?
The majority of our customers buy bamboo for hedging and it makes an excellent screen for a number of reasons. Bamboo is strongly vertical with a small footprint, requiring very little space but providing lots of high screening and privacy. It gains height very quickly but once it reaches its genetically programmed height it stops growing taller, making maintenance easy and topping unnecessary. Bamboo provides a translucent, softer effect than a conventional cedar hedge and can easily be thinned by removing culms (canes) at ground level to allow more light penetration. Thus working on ladders is not required.
So how close should bamboo be planted? Bamboo planted too closely together will compete, potentially resulting in smaller plants. But the further the spacing the longer it takes to produce a screen. Generally a good compromise is three to five feet apart for smaller running bamboo and four to six feet apart for larger running species. If you are starting with very big bamboo plants or have lots of time the distances can be extended. Clumping bamboo can be planted three to four feet apart. To encourage the hedge plants to link together faster dig a narrow, continuous trench the width of your shovel and refill with improved soil. Put an irrigation emitter line along the trench line and the bamboo will tend to grow along the rich, moist soil. Semiarundinaria fastuosa Viridis , with its strong vertical canes and short branches, produces an excellent, tall, dense windbreak with a narrow footprint. Phyllostachys aurea and its cultivars, Phyllostachys aurea ‘Koi’ and Phyllostachys aurea ‘Holochrysa’ produce a shorter but equally dense and vertical screen. Both will remain bushy right down to ground level or you can prune away lower branches (“leg up”) to show off the lower culms (canes). Starting with very small plants (around one gallon size – about one to two feet high) will reduce costs but take about three or four years longer to establish a good screen than using larger five gallon plants (which are usually six to eight feet high with multiple culms).
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