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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:45 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:01 pm
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Location: United States
Hello. Our friend and landscape designer came up with a nice concept model that does some great things design wise. I've been trying to get educated enough to figure this out - but am confused by all the differing information I am getting.

A key element are 3-4 clumping bamboo plants that will be planted in a bed right next to the house. Because of some hardscape (some pavers) the size of this bed is limited. It will be about 8 feet long, but only 2 or maybe 2.5 feet deep (as in front to back - not actual soil depth).

My main question, is there a clumper that can work in this space? I know that ideally there would be more space - but the architect is recommending this and I've seen bamboo doing pretty well in big pots which offer even less space. While recommended space is easy to find; there isn't much consensus on bare minimum requirements.

The other related question of course, is which variety would be best suited for this application?

The property is north of San Francisco in Mill Valley CA (94941). It is in zone 8b and only about 5 miles from the Pacific Ocean as the crow flies. We get quite a bit of fog and it rarely gets above 75 degrees or below 30 degrees. Since the house blocks the sun the bamboo receives at most some dappled sunlight and is 100% shade for most of the year

Your advice is greatly appreciated.


Last edited by jsmbythebay on Thu Jul 24, 2014 7:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:53 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 12:28 am
Posts: 1216
Location: Island off Cape Cod Massacusetts
Ideally, even clumping bamboos would be better off with wider footprint.

Hopefully someone more familiar than I with clumping bamboos of your climate will chime in on best variety, there may be some smaller ones than what I am thinking of.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:29 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:07 pm
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Location: Southern New Jersey 7b about 5 mins from Philadelphia, PA
Your climate is very different from mine, so what works well for me may not work well for you; that said 2.5 ft for the width of the planting bed is at least 1 foot to small. Avoid the open clumpers in the Yushiana genus, and focus on the compact fargesias instead. Thats about the best general advice I can give, hopefully someone from the Pacific Coast will respond with more local information.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 10:23 am 
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Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia
min 30F and rarely above 75F? Foggy and with a lot of precipitation? Ideal for Borinda genus, especially if it doesn't get bothered by strong sun too much, like in your case. There are Borinda bamboos, that will grow up to 20 feet with culm diameter of around 2 inches. They can be vigorous, but if you confine them, I doubt they will thrive as much as somewhere in partly shaded open field.

-edit: Oh, and one more thing, they have extremely dense foliage and start to 'weep'. You'll have to top them and prune some of the branches or tie them against something to keep them upright. I tied the whole clump together so all the culms that want to go into seperate directions keep the thing upright. In a while I'll try something else, especially if it goes past 10ft mark - first snow will level it with the ground.

Mine is shooting and new shoots are really getting thicker and thicker. It's around 9 feet tall, perhaps even closing on 10ft already.

I'm in 7b (sometimes more like 7a) zone and it's not hardy enough to expect miracles. Despite everything it survived 2 winters outside and it looks it bounces back after complete defoliation and even manage to upsize considerably.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2014 4:56 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 23, 2014 4:01 pm
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Location: United States
Thanks for the info, I wasn't aware of that genera (not sure if that's the right term...)


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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2014 4:49 am 
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Besides concern of the limited footprint noted already by others, which if you don't stay on top of--and maybe even if you do--it might displace some of those pavers, being right up against the house, I presume there might be some sort of eaves above the planting area? If so, then you don't really have 2 to 2.5 feet there, but whatever footprint minus whatever overhead.

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PostPosted: Sat Aug 02, 2014 2:53 pm 
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Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 9:48 pm
Posts: 85
Location: NE Illinois, zone 5, USA
I have a bed of bamboo that is 32 feet long by 30 inches wide. It has been planted with a running bamboo, Phyllostachys aureosulcata, for over 25 years. My bamboo has matured to normal height, 18 feet, for the species in my climate zone 5, so at least in my experience I would think that The dimensions of your planting be should be just fine - with a couple caveats.

My bed DOES HAVE rhizome barrier to keep the bamboo confined. With a bed as narrow as 2.5 feet even a clumping bamboo will want to spread out, so for a long trouble free future - instal a rhizome barrier to aid in keeping the bamboo confined in the narrow planting strip. Paving stones are not a very effective barrier, and will be easily invaded should the bamboo head that way. In some ways, the dense nature of clumping bamboo, they may actually put as much or more mechanical pressure on a barrier than a running bamboo. I speculate this would be due to the clumper's culms being much more tightly packed together, and when they fill in against a barrier, because of the density, they may be able to put a lot of pressure against their barrier. The looser habit of a running bamboo may actually be easier on a barrier. Though running bamboo are probably better at finding that one gap in the barrier system.

In a 2.5 x 8 foot bed, I think all bamboo should be treated as if they were capable of being invasive. Doing so, would make for fewer complaints and less maintenance 5 or 10 years down the road.

My climate is wildly different than yours, so any species recommendation I would make should be viewed as mostly BS. The climate sounds like it would be perfect for many tropicals and montane tropicals. Borinda, Chusquesia, Chimonobambusa, Drepanostachyum, Himalayacalamus, Indocalmus, Sasa, Pleioblastus, Semiarundinaria, and Thamnocalamus all have possible candidates for your planting. I would consider Himalayacalamus or Depanostachyum especially, but I am not certain what their sun requirements are.

If you make certain your planting bed has a decent 30+ inch deep rhizome barrier (vertical, width is the word for horizontal dimension) you don't have to worry about how invasive a choice would be, and then you can choose your bamboo based only on appearance and cultural requirements.

Hope these thoughts help.


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