Pros and cons of growing bamboo

Pros and cons of growing bamboo

Bamboo is one of those plants that have very divided opinions about them. Some people absolutely love bamboo, others have horror stories to tell and want bamboo nowhere near their home. 

Let`s look at some of the main pros and cons of planting bamboo in your yard. 

Pros

Versatility 

There are more than 1 5000 different species of bamboo and they come in all kinds of colors, growing habits, and sizes. Some prefer shade and others thrive in bright sunlight.

You can get yourself running bamboo that will easily fill any space you give it or choose a clumping bamboo that spreads only a few inches every year.

Bamboo can serve as an accent piece, a windbreak, privacy screen or grow wild as a bamboo forest. You can mix and match different bamboo to make yourself all kinds of landscape designs  – from Japanese gardens to lush tropical paradise to minimalist designs with bamboo as an accent piece.

Grows in almost all climates

Most bamboo species are native to warm and moist tropical or to warm temperate climates. However, grows in diverse climates, and thrives in environments where it is native and where it is not.

Bamboo can grow in hot and dry places like the Sonoran desert or be covered in snow in Canadian winter. And of course – anything in between. 

Not all bamboo will grow everywhere, you must find and choose species adequate for your weather, but you can be pretty sure that you will manage to find something suitable.

Prevents soil erosion

Bamboo is an ideal plant for soil erosion control. Running bamboos spread out forming a dense, underground network of rhizomes and roots. This dramatically reduces rain run-off, preventing massive soil erosion. Planted along streams or gullies it can help to stabilize the sides.

High pest resistance

Bamboo is rarely bothered by insect pests. And other typical problem animals like deer and rabbits tend to stay away from bamboo.

Of course, there can be exceptions but generally bamboo is a pest-free plant. 

Great for environment

Planting bamboo is a great way to help the environment.  Bamboo is a crucial element in the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

A grove of bamboo releases 35% more oxygen than an equivalent stand of trees. How about offsetting those overseas flights?

Easy to grow 

Pros of bamboo include the plant’s easy growth habits. As long as the climate is right, bamboo grows in nearly any type of reasonably fertile well-drained soil. It requires little maintenance and is relatively drought-tolerant, although it performs better with regular irrigation.

Grows quickly

Typically a bamboo will reach their mature size in about 3 years given it`s in optimal growing conditions and there’s no great disruption like a drought or an unusually cold winter. 

Cons

Not everyone’s experience with bamboo is great. Some people regret planting bamboo.
So, what are the main problems with growing bamboo?

Can be invasive

Bamboo is sometimes called one of the most invasive plants on the planet.

While it is definitely a bit of an exaggeration, especially because many bamboo species spread very slowly, there is some truth to the statement. 

Many homeowners choose bamboo for a fast-growing privacy screen around their property. While the growth speed is desired, when quick-spreading running bamboo species get out of hand, they can spread not only deep into your own property but also cross borders and invade the neighbors’ yard. 

Sometimes installing bamboo barriers just does not stop the plant. It is enough a running bamboo to find just one crack and it can spread out from there.  

Misunderstood by neighbors

Now, even if you have carefully considered the purchase and have chosen a nice clumping bamboo plant that does not spread, you can still face problems. 

Not caused by the bamboo itself but by concerned neighbors. Because bamboo has a reputation of spreading wide, many people are worried your bamboo will get into their property.

And a lot of people are not aware that there are different types of bamboo that do not cause problems. 

Difficult to eradicate

If you are one of those gardeners who like to redo their garden layouts, replanting things every season to try something new? If so, bamboo is not for you! 

To get rid of bamboo it is not enough to just dig it out and move on with your life. It is very hard and takes lots of time to remove once it’s established.

It usually takes some combination of digging, mowing and many applications of herbicide. And you must be patient. It can take several seasons before it is gone for good.

So this means that choosing to plant bamboo is almost like going into marriage – it`s best to assume that it is going to be a relationship for life. Otherwise, it gets messy and difficult.

Featured image by Leonora (Ellie) Enking , Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0