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Bamboo Rhizome Barrier
two gauges of barrier thickness:
A picture guide for barrier installation
(click on link or photo)
Open Sided Barrier System
Fully Enclosed Barrier System
1. Dig a trench 28 inches deep around the proposed site, removing the top soil first, then the heavier sub-soil. Stack these separately. If the site is very narrow, it may be easier to remove all of the soil from the installation rather than digging a trench. Avoid creating tight corners, as this may cause the barrier to fail due to undue stress to the material. For larger Phyllostachys, the total enclosure should have a circumference of at least 30 feet for the bamboo to reach its full potential.
2. Place the barrier into the trench. Being 30 inches tall, the barrier will stand proud of the soil by 2 inches. This stops any rhizomes escaping over the top without being detected.
3. Secure the overlapping ends with the stainless steel strips. Be sure that the overlap is only 2 or 3 inches, as a longer overlap may allow the rhizome to slip in between and negate the tightness of the joint. Merely overlapping the ends of plastic will not stop the escape of the rhizomes. The strips are 28 inches tall (the same as the depth of the trench) and must not protrude above soil level, thereby avoiding injury to feet.
4. Back fill the trench first with the sub-soil, and compact this to drive out all air pockets. Then complete backfilling the trench with the top soil and pack that tight, too. At all times, make sure no sharp objects (stones, glass, metal, or tree roots) come into contact with the barrier. If the backfilled soil is not packed in tight, when the rhizomes contact with the barrier, they may be able to travel down through the loose soil and escape beneath the barrier, undetected.
OPEN SIDED BARRIER (see above for illustration) -- a good choice for long term health
and bamboo control. It requires annual root pruning on the side left open. There
are some advantages to doing this, mainly it will prevent bamboo from becoming
too root bound within an small, enclosed space. It also assures that the
planting area has adequate drainage which is especially important in certain
areas that collect a lot of water in the winter. It is often used to create a
border along a fence line or property line if your main concern is keeping good
neighborly relations. An open-sided barrier (half circle or U-shape) will
focus the rhizomes in one direction, thus reducing and simplifying the area that
needs annual pruning. This is a good technique to use for small areas
(less than 30 feet total circumference), or if you are planning to dig divisions
of the original plant at a later date. The stainless steel clamp is not
needed for these applications. See this link for open-sided barrier:
Maintaining the Enclosed Bamboo
Check around the perimeter of the barrier once or twice a year, removing any rhizomes trying to escape over the top of the barrier or rhizomes that track just underground along the edges. Avoid digging too close to the barrier with a sharp tool or anything that could potentially damage the barrier, and never allow a mower or any other machinery to damage the protruding edges. This could cause the rhizomes (underground spreading stems) to escape undetected. The use of bark mulch or other loose, organic substances spread 2 to 5 inches deep over the top of your planting area within the barrier encourages the rhizomes to spread just inches below the surface, making them very easy to locate and prune. It also makes for a healthier bamboo! It is recommended that you annually prune any rhizomes that track along the edges of your barrier as, over a several year period, they can build up a tremendous amount of pressure which, in some cases, can eventually cause the barrier to fail.
Pruning the underground rhizomes around the perimeter of your bamboo
planting area once in Summer and in Fall during their active growth period is
the single best way to control the bamboo and prevent it from spreading.
This should always be considered as the first option, and, if not possible or
the area inaccessible for pruning, install the rhizome barrier. Remember:
Barrier does not stop the bamboo from growing, rather, it forces the
underground rhizomes to grow in a certain direction. A bamboo enclosed inside a
barrier still needs annual maintenance for long term health and control.
Timber Bamboo (Phyllostachys)
30 to 70 ft. tall
Mid-sized Bamboo (Phyllostachys)
15 to 30 ft tall
Cold-hardy Clumping Bamboo
6 to 25 ft. tall
6 to 50 ft. tall
Other Running Bamboo
6 to 25 ft. tall
Small Running Bamboo
1 to 8 ft. tall
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