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Narihira bamboo - running or clumping??

adjsandersadjsanders Posts: 19
Newbie here  :disappointed:

The back of my garden is incredibly overlooked (new build!). I'd like to create a living privacy screen above the fence and after a but of research am thinking bamboo could be a good way to go.

BUT, I'm a bit nervous about what I've read about runners and containing them!

I came across Narihiri bamboo (Semiarundinaria fastuosa) which looks very nice, is tall and takes up little horizontal space, but I seem to be finding contradictory information as to whether it is a runner or clump-forming?

Anyone have any direct experience with this plant or expert knowledge who could help demystify?

I'm also stumped as to the best way to contain it. Barrier in the ground? Raised sleep bed? Or raised concrete block bed? Something else?

The garden isn't huge so we're trying to conserve space - how deep should the area be? I was thinking around 40-50cm?

TIA!
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  • MarlorenaMarlorena East AngliaPosts: 6,379
    ...that is a running bamboo... for your purposes, if you must plant Bamboo.. consider Fargesia robusta 'Campbell'... these are clumpers with a narrow habit..
    ..however, if you are nervous about it, you might be best advised not to plant any at all and look for some alternative, because even clumpers can get a bit alarming when you see the new culms coming up...  I have also found them to be impossibly difficult to remove after about 5 years or so, without using chemicals.. should you change your mind about them..
    ...I like a quiet life...  
  • adjsandersadjsanders Posts: 19
    Thanks Marlorena.

    You may have confirmed my suspicions! It's weird that the RHS website says that it's clump-forming. I guess they get things wrong occasionally 😂

    I have looked at alternatives to bamboo but couldn't find anything that fit the bill (albeit, I didn't look all that hard!)

    Do you have any recommendations of a non invasive evergreen screen that would provide instant screening above the fence and wouldn't take up too much horizontal space?
  • Excitable BoyExcitable Boy Posts: 165
    As someone who has had to hire a digger to remove supposedly clumping bamboo I'd warn you to be very cautious about putting bamboo in the ground. It's a great screening plant but I would advise you to put it in a sturdy planter off the ground and to keep a careful watch for runners. You don't have to have a particularly deep planter as it tends to stay in the top 6 inches.
  • adjsandersadjsanders Posts: 19
    Thanks @Excitable Boy - hiring diggers does not sound like something I want to be doing!

    Would a sturdy raised bed, about 20-25 inches high do the trick, do you think? Either sleepers or concrete block?

    I'm concerned that most things we put in pots/planters seem to die if/when we forget to water it!! 

    Do you have any suggestions for alternatives that might give the same screening effect as bamboo, taking limited space from the garden yet is not going to cause spreading headaches?!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,325
    edited May 2020
    If you can't remember to water, bamboo won't work either.
    It's better to have a screen nearer the house. It's a common design trick [someone else has just posted a similar query] and means you don't need anything huge.
    If you have some photos it'll help with advice.

    Anything in a pot needs extra care - regardless of the plant. If you build raised beds - make them big enough - in every direction.

    Here's the link to the other query
    https://forum.gardenersworld.com/discussion/1038680/screening#latest
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Excitable BoyExcitable Boy Posts: 165
    Hi @adjsanders, yes, concrete block of sleepers would do and would get around the watering problem. Don't fill to the top as it will then be easier to spot and eradicate the runners.

    As regards alternatives you could try dogwood but it is deciduous and also spreads, although mainly by rooting branches which is easier to control.  Gross to about 3m. If it's sunny I'd go for Californian lilac which is very fast growing and attractive but again won't get taller than 3 - 4 m. If you have a big garden plant a cherry tree!
  • adjsandersadjsanders Posts: 19
    Thanks @Fairygirl

    Just posted over on that thread to ask about one of the trees he has planted! :smile:

    Unfortunately, my situation is far far worse with regard to privacy. 


    We don't have a huge amount of depth to the garden - about 9 metres - and we plan to extend which would take out another 3ish metres, so I can't really visualise how the layering effect would work.

    Any ideas or advice would be very much appreciated. Getting close to giving up and selling up!
  • FairygirlFairygirl west central ScotlandPosts: 46,325
    A pergola. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....


  • Excitable BoyExcitable Boy Posts: 165
    Yikes! If you extend you won't have much left and your overlook problem would be worse as growing something tall round the edges will make your garden and extension very dark. It appears that you have little ones so you need to think longer term really.
  • adjsandersadjsanders Posts: 19
    @Fairygirl - A pergola is definitely an option. The garden is north facing (seriously, why did we buy this house?) so we plan to deck the back of the garden as it is the only area that gets some sun. My concern with a pergola is that we may actually shade the only sunny patch!!

    @Excitable Boy - Thanks - raised bed might be a way to go then. 

    Ideally, we're looking for something evergreen as the top windows from the houses at the back look straight into our living room at the back of the house so we could do with some all year round privacy. 

    We actually already have 2 cherry trees, in a relatively small garden. I hear they can get to about 8m wide, is that right? If so, that would pretty much cover the whole garden. I've no idea why new-build developers put such large trees in small spaces. Do you think we should be considering taking them out?

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