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Bamboo: The Pros and Cons

Bamboo can be a great feature in your garden and can offer wonderful, natural screening as well as being a great carbon absorber. However, because of its vigorous nature, if you are not careful, bamboo can easily take over your garden. In this series we will go over the pros and cons of bamboo and how you can get rid of it – or at least control it – in your garden.

What’s so special about bamboo?

There are plenty of advantages of growing bamboo, not least its versatility. With over 1,000 varieties of bamboo, there is a bamboo for every location and climate, with some tolerating temperatures as low as -29°C and others thriving in tropical climates. Bamboo is also brilliant for the environment – not just the bamboo products that you can buy now, but growing it yourself, as it absorbs large amounts of greenhouse gases and emits oxygen. What’s more, the plant’s extensive root system helps to prevent soil erosion. Bamboo is also pest resistant to most potential munchers except bamboo mites, which aren’t a problem in the UK, and very easy to grow; even the least green-fingered gardener can manage a bit of bamboo!

So, if you want a quick and easy natural screen that needs little maintenance and does its bit for the environment, bamboo may be the way forward! Make sure you choose a variety that isn’t too rampant or it could take over your garden; clumping bamboo is a good choice as it reaches about 2m in height and doesn’t spread more than 2-3 cm a year.

So, is there a downside?

Anybody who has tried to limit a bamboo’s domination of the garden will tell you that there is definitely a downside to bamboo! While bamboo is undoubtedly a great way of creating a natural border or privacy screen within a limited period of time, it can be difficult to control. In fact, bamboo is one of the most invasive plants in the world; in the right conditions, the plant’s rhizomes can grow a metre in 24 hours. Thankfully, the Great British climate isn’t conducive to this massive rate of growth, but your bamboo can grow a couple of metres in the space of a year, with shoots popping up all over the place. However, you will still need to control the shoots that arbitrarily sprout in your garden, under your decking or patio, or in your neighbour’s garden, and that is a job which is much easier said than done, even by a professional gardener.

There is certainly a time and a place for bamboo but before you commit, take some time to consider the consequences as you can guarantee you will have bamboo for many years to come.

If you do have an unruly bamboo that you are constantly battling with, follow us on Facebook or Twitter for next week’s instalment when we discuss what you can do to control your bamboo.

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