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LeBeau Bamboo Nursery      Medford, Oregon 541-499-4992

Creating an Above Ground Bamboo Barrier

Posted on December 10th, 2015 by LeBeau Bamboo Nursery in Bamboo Care and Maintenance

When and How To Use Partially Above Ground Barriers

Installing bamboo rhizome barrier requires that a trench can be dug at least 24 inches deep. When the soil is very rocky, has large roots, or has possible burried utility lines it becomes very expensive and labor intensive to get the barrier installed to the necessary depth. In these situations, one of the best options is to install bamboo barrier which is partially above ground, similar to a raised bed. Dig a trench as deep as you possibly can, and then place the barrier in the trench. Build a rock or paver wall at least a foot from the outside edge of the barrier and backfill soil behind it with each layer of stone laid. Pack the soil down so it doesn't compress later. Remember to leave about two inches of barrier above ground so you can more easily spot rhizomes that might sneak over the barrier. It is also important that the bottom foot or so of soil within the barrier is hard, compacted soil. Although you still want it to drain well enough, you want harder soil that will discourage the rhizomes from growing any deeper. In loamy or sandy soil, the rhizomes will often travel deeper than with most other soils which can rarely lead to rhizomes growing under the barrier. With the compact soil, this issue can usually be avoided.

See the below diagram for a comparison between standard in ground barrier and the partially above barrier. Below the diagram click the two check boxes to switch between the two methods.
Good Soil
New Shoot
Mature Canes
New Rhizome
Compact Soil
Use the above buttons to switch between standard and raised bamboo barrier.

How Well Does Above Ground Barrier Work?

Barriers that are raised above ground will actually work just as well as standard in-ground barriers as long as the bottom foot of soil is compacted dense soils and the barrier has enough support. Eventually, as the root and rhizome mass of the bamboo grows, it will put quite a bit of pressure against the plastic barrier. Even though it is pretty tough stuff, the force from continual expansion within the barrier could crack or split the material. Putting the soil and rock wall around the outside of the barrier reduces the strain on the plastic by providing a large amount of weight against the barrier. You should aim for at least one foot of soil between the bamboo barrier and the inside of the rock/brick wall but two feet would be more ideal. Again, be sure to compact the soil as much as possible while laying the bricks or stone for the wall so that compression doesn't sink the soil level later.

Can You Use Wood or Other Materials Like a Standard Raised Bed?
Other materials can be used instead of a soil and rock wall, especially with smaller groves. A wooden planter box is really the same idea, but on a smaller scale. You just have to be sure to build a strong wall that can apply enough force to hold the barrier in place. A wooden planter box is held together by strong corner joints at the end of each board, but a longer side means that there will be very little support towards the middle. Posts stuck deep into the ground would be necessary at intervals of about four feet to support the structure, with some variance depending on the height of the wall of course.

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