Pros and Cons of Running Bamboo

There are pros and cons of running bamboo, whether you wish to plant it as an ornamental grass or use it functionally and aesthetically as a privacy fence. A common misconception about this species is it is some sort of tree; it isn’t, bamboo is actually a giant woody grass which grows chiefly in the tropics. This grass plant is characterized by its tall shoots, rising several feet in the air, with hard, hollow stems. It’s widely cultivated and can be found in many climates, even in non-native settings. Before you plant this beautiful grass, you should know the pros and cons of running bamboo.

Pros and Cons of Running Bamboo

Here in Sarasota, the Sunshine State lives up to its name nearly every day of the year. In the summer, temperatures can reach into the low to mid 90’s, with overnight lows cooling to the mid to high 70’s. Dew points run into the low to mid 70’s, with the relative humidity varying greatly, from the low 60’s to the 80’s and 90’s. This subtropical climate, as you might guess, is one in which bamboo thrives because it’s much like its native climate.

Bamboos can be broadly grouped into two categories. The first is the running variety, which grows very fast and can be quite invasive if not controlled properly. The second is the clumping variety, which is slower to grow, but is easier to contain within a specified boundary. Running bamboos provide a quick and tall fence, but they may require more work in terms of containment. Some of the popular species that can withstand most weather conditions include Black Bamboo, Golden Bamboo, Meyerii and Arcana Bamboo. —Do It

This is why it’s common to find beautiful bamboo privacy fences all over Sarasota County, as well as many other localities in the state of Florida. Though running bamboo does well in this climate, it’s wise to learn a little about the grass plant before you plant it on your property. You must also be careful and prepare before planting: like calling before you dig (Sunshine 811); preparing the soil; wetting the area; shovel a berm; fill the berm with mulch; and, water the bamboo properly for it to grow strong.

Pros of Running Bamboo

There are a few good reasons to choose running bamboo for your landscape, such as the following:

  • Provides a visual barrier. The biggest reason homeowners choose to plant running bamboo is because it provides a visual barrier and a beautiful one at that. It works as a privacy fence with its natural look.
  • Bamboo is a perennial. One great thing about bamboo is it is a perennial grass plant, which means it will come back each year. That’s an advantage but is also a slight disadvantage because there will be less foliage to provide privacy.
  • Bamboo is drought tolerant. Because bamboo is drought tolerant, it takes very little to care for it to keep it healthy and looking its best. This also help curtail the amount of watering you must do.
  • Provides more oxygen. Another wonderful aspect about bamboo is it actually provides more oxygen per square inch than practically any species of tree or grass. This is a big benefit for people and for the environment.
  • It helps to control erosion. Bamboo has an extensive root system, which is a much welcome help to control erosion.

Another benefit of bamboo is it can be cut and repurposed. For instance, you might opt to cut down a section to build a table, a small gate, or an outdoor decorative feature.

Cons of Running Bamboo

Of course, with the good comes the bad and there are cons of planting running bamboo:

  • Leaves shed and fall off. Like many species of trees and grasses, bamboo does shed its leaves and this can be problematic, in some situations. For instance, planting running bamboo near a pool means having to skim leaves from the water as they are blown in by the wind.
  • Running bamboo is an invasive species. Perhaps the biggest problem with bamboo is that the grass plant is an invasive species. This means it will take over a larger and larger area in your yard, forcing other plants out by taking up more nutrients, sunlight, and moisture.
  • Does not provide much shade. Unless you plant a large swath of running bamboo, don’t count on it to provide much shade. Here in the Sunshine State, shade is welcome anywhere it can be found.
  • Difficult to get rid of it. Another problem with planting bamboo is once it takes hold, it is difficult to rid your yard of it.

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