What to do when canes overhang a neighbor's yard

A customer who planted a hedge of Graceful Clumping Bamboo along his property line several years ago recently wrote with the following question:  

Our clumping bamboo is growing really well, but starting to hang into our neighbors yard,  should I cut the offending canes in the middle or at the ground level to prevent this in the future?

My response:
You can cut the overhanging canes anywhere but I usually like to cut them off at the base for aesthetic reasons.  However, trimming existing canes won't stop new shoots which come up around the base to grow tall and eventually do the same thing - overhanging the neighbor's yard.  The only way to prevent that is to knock over the new shoots coming up on your neighbor's side so they won't grow tall.  When bamboo gets to the stage your has, it needs maintenance once a year.  Remember that the growing season continues through November so new canes will keep coming up.  We suggest doing a pruning once in the late winter before the growing season begins and then knocking over unwanted new shoots as they appear during the spring-summer-fall.


Creating a beautiful bamboo hedge

Two lovely hedges of clumping bamboos

Some of the best bamboos for creating dense living walls of green are in the Bambusa multiplex family of clumping bamboos.  Bambusa multiplex alphonse karr (Golden Hedge), Bambusa multiplex golden goddess (Golden Goddess) and Bambusa multiplex silverstripe (Green Hedge) are all very hardy, broad growing bamboos that make wonderful hedges.  If you wish to create a privacy barrier, buffer sound or block the view to something objectionable, these three bamboos will quickly accomplish your goals. 

Of the three, Green Hedge will get the tallest (35'), Golden Hedge (25') and Golden Goddess tops out between 12' and 15'.  Golden Hedge has golden-yellow canes with green stripes while both Green Hedge and Golden Goddess have green canes. 

Attractive new shoots of Golden Hedge Clumping Bamboo

For variety and attractiveness, we like to mix up the different Multiplex bamboos when creating hedges.  For instance, Golden and Green Hedge look lovely together since both grow to similar heights and have identical shapes.

Green Hedge and Golden Hedge bamboos blend together nicely

The end three bamboos are Golden Goddess next to a line of Golden Hedge bamboo to add variety and interest to the hedge.

Similarly, Golden Goddess, which is shorter than Green or Golden Hedge, works well when placed at the ends of a hedge of either or both of the larger bamboos.  Doing so creates an interesting visual arc when mature without sacrificing privacy.

No matter what types of bamboo you purchase, it is important to include soil amendments and irrigation in your plans.  Bamboo grows best in a rich but light soil (we suggest our custom mix called Bamboo Booster) and likes a high-nitrogen  fertilizer.  Water daily after planting and as often as possible during the first growing season.  


A bamboo teacup

What can you do with bamboo?  How about making teacups?  Here's a photo sent by one of our customer who not only made a set of teacups out of bamboo poles but used a wood burning tool to etch a design into the wood.