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Running bamboo vs clumping bamboo, should you even bother?

Running bamboo vs clumping bamboo, should you even bother?

Close up on Bamboo damage

In the United Kingdom, bamboo has rapidly become a popular choice for gardeners and landscapers alike due to its unique aesthetic appeal and ability to bring instant impact to a garden design. Its tall, leafy appearance also makes it an ideal solution for garden privacy. When considering bamboo for your garden, it’s important to understand the key distinction between two main types: running bamboo and clumping bamboo. These bamboo varieties differ significantly in their growth habits and management requirements. 

Running Bamboo: 

Growth Pattern: Running bamboo, as the name suggests, has a more aggressive and invasive growth pattern. It spreads rapidly via underground rhizomes, sending up shoots at various distances from the parent plant. 

Spacing: Because of its invasive nature, running bamboo should be planted with caution and often requires containment methods like barriers or regular root pruning to prevent it from taking over your garden. 

Maintenance: Running bamboo demands more maintenance, as you need to be vigilant in controlling its spread. Without proper containment, it can become a nuisance, encroaching on neighbouring plants and structures. 

Hardiness: Most running bamboo species are extremely robust in the UK climate, but they may be more susceptible to cold and frost damage compared to clumping bamboo. It’s important to choose a variety that can withstand local weather conditions. 

Clumping Bamboo: 

Growth Pattern: Clumping bamboo has a more restrained growth pattern. It forms tight, non-invasive clumps, with new shoots emerging closely around the parent plant. 

Spacing: Clumping bamboo is ideal for gardeners with limited space, as it doesn’t require the same level of containment as running bamboo. It’s easier to manage and won’t spread uncontrollably if reasonable steps are taken when purchased. 

Maintenance: Clumping bamboo generally requires less maintenance than running bamboo, making it a more user-friendly option for gardeners with various levels of experience. 

Hardiness: Many clumping bamboo species are well-suited to the UK climate and can withstand colder temperatures without significant damage. 

Clumping or Running, Bamboo will most likely become a problem. 

Irrespective of the bamboo variety chosen, it poses a significant risk of transforming your garden into a battleground. Its aggressive rhizomes can stealthily spread underground, emerging unexpectedly, and encroaching upon neighbouring properties, potentially leading to legal disputes, and causing headaches for both you and your neighbours. Even with meticulous planning, containment measures, and ongoing maintenance, preventing bamboo from escaping and causing damage to your property can be almost impossible. Typically, bamboo-related issues tend to manifest around 7 to 10 years after the initial planting, making long-term management a complex endeavour. 

Given the substantial challenges associated with bamboo cultivation, it may be prudent to reconsider whether it’s worth the potential headaches at all. An optimal solution often involves refraining from planting bamboo in your garden altogether. Numerous other plant varieties possess comparable beauty and screening capabilities, such as pleached trees, living green screens or native hedges, offering viable alternatives that can enhance your garden without the associated risks and maintenance burdens. 

Has your bamboo become a problem? Environet can help. 

With over 25 years’ experience in invasive plant removal and containment, our no-nonsense, straightforward removal approach involves excavating and eliminating the entire problematic root/rhizome system. This can be challenging, especially for mature bamboo stands that often impact a substantial amount of soil, but always proves successful.  

For more information, contact our knowledgeable team at [email protected] or give them a call on 01932 868 700.  

Robert Spaceman

“We had a large stand of bamboo removed, thinned, contained and replaced. The customer service has been first class. Joe and Jason were fabulous and kept me well informed at all times”.