When Designing Eden is installing a new landscape, we have a rather large set of signature plants we use. Even so, we are always trying new plants in our landscapes. When we are considering a new plant, we always spend significant time researching plants in regards to the growth characteristics and desired culture. Last summer, as I walked into a surprise birthday party for a friend, I was met by a couple who knew I owned a landscape design and installation company. After apologizing in advance for asking a work question on a Saturday night, this couple proceeded to tell me about a concern within their pool area. They told me how they hired one of the other landscape companies in New Milford to landscape their pool area about 5 years ago. Part of that landscapers plan included bamboo. The homeowners questioned the plant choice but were assured that the bamboo would be fine and would ‘look cool’. I think most would agree that the form and growth habit of bamboo can add interest to any space and may be tempting to try. In this case, the landscaper installed some type of running bamboo that has jumped the garden bed and is now spreading aggressively throughout the lawn. Worse, as the plant spreads, it sends up spear like points that are dangerous to anyone trying to traverse the lawn. They were wondering what my strategy would be to remove the original plant as well as all the little siblings colonizing around their lawn. I know there are clump forming bamboos as well as a lot of varieties you’d be crazy to plant. What makes bamboo so scary is some varieties have an uncanny ability to run underground for long distances before popping up far from the parent plant. If you are thinking of trying bamboo, I would suggest researching the cultivar for aggressiveness and watch it closely from year to year.
As a side note, the state of Connecticut has added running bamboo to the ever growing list of invasive plants and has gone so far as to enact a law that fines homeowners that do not control bamboo from within their own boundaries.