Grasses and bamboos come in clump-forming types and running types.
Controlling Running Grasses & Bamboo
Clumping types stay where you plant them and won't ever hop your fence or stray across your yard. Running types are the ones that can get away from you.
The good news is that if a few precautions are taken when planting, bamboos and grasses that want to stray can be kept in place. Download our Bamboo at a Glance handout for a handy reference to clumping and running bamboo types.
Bamboo Root Barrier
In the above photo, bamboo root barrier surrounds a planting of Black Bamboo Phyllostachys nigra. The barrier is made of 60ml (very thick) plastic and is planted in a 3 feet deep trench and sealed with a stainless steel clamp.
A few inches of barrier are allowed to show above ground. Bamboo roots are most likely to attempt escape by hopping over the top of the barrier, so if that happens, roots can easily be seen and cut back before they become a problem.
Bamboo root barrier works well to contain running grasses as well as bamboo. Blue Lyme Grass Elymus, Japanese Blood Grass Imperata and Giant Reed Grass Arundo donax are candidates.
Root Pruning & Trench Approach
The Bamboo Garden recommends digging a trench around plantings and pruning roots as they attempt to move into the trench.
Bamboo looks great growing in containers and using them is a good way to control spreading as well.
- Choose a large pot.
- The pot should be wider at the top than the bottom or have sides that are straight up & down. Any type of lip that narrows the opening will be very difficult to work with when roots require pruning.
- The pot should have drainage holes in the bottom.
The roots of this bamboo have grown under the sidewalk and sprouted on the other side. Once this happens it is very difficult to handle.
Removing the growth above ground will only work until new shoots come in spring. To dig out the roots, the sidewalk will have to be removed. Spraying with herbicide to kill the roots becomes a viable option.
Bamboo at a Glance
- Borinda angustissima - Narrow-leaf Borinda
- Borinda boliana
- Chusquea culeou – Chilean Feather Bamboo
- Fargesia dracocephala – Dragon's Head Bamboo
- Fargesia murielae – Giant Panda Fodder Bamboo
- Fargesia nitida – Blue Fountain Bamboo
- Fargesia robusta – Walking Stick Bamboo
- Fargesia rufa
- Himalayacalamus asper – Tibetan Princess Bamboo
- Thamnocalamus crassinodus
- Thamnocalamus tessellatus
Running Bamboo - Tall +20"
- Phyllostachys aurea – Gold Bamboo
- Phyllostachys aureosulcata – Crookstem Bamboo
- Phyllostachys bambusoides – Madake Bamboo
- Phyllostachys bissetti – Bisset's Bamboo
- Phyllostachys congesta – Incense Bamboo
- Phyllostachys decora – Beautiful Bamboo
- Phyllostachys dulcis – Sweetshoot Bamboo
- Phyllostachys edulis – Moso Bamboo
- Phyllostachys heteroclada – Water Bamboo
- Phyllostachys nigra – Black Bamboo
- Phyllostachys nuda – Green Bamboo
- Phyllostachys rubromarginata – Red Edge Bamboo
- Phyllostachys vivax – Giant Timber Bamboo
Running Bamboo - Mid-Size 6-20"
- Hibanobambusa tranquillans
- Pseudosasa japonica – Arrow Bamboo
- Qiongzhuea tumidissinoda – Chinese Walking Stick Bamboo
- Sasa palmata – Palm-leaf Bamboo
- Semiarundinaria fastuosa – Temple Bamboo
Running Bamboo - Low Growing
- Pleioblastus pygmaeus – Dwarf Bamboo
- Pleioblastus shibuyanus
- Pleioblastus variegata
- Pleioblastus viridistriatus – Dwarf Greenstripe Bamboo
- Shibataea kumasaca – Ruscus Bamboo