By Eric Triplett
The weight of conventional wisdom opposes me here, but I love using bamboo around many of the ponds we install. In the right setting with a pond large enough that the vertical plants are appropriately scaled to the horizontal watershape, bamboo looks great, grows rapidly and brings a wonderful architectural look to the composition – not to mention great sound when the wind blows and rustles through the leafy canes.
The key to using it, as I discuss in this installment of “Ask the Pond Digger,” is selecting the right species and doing what’s required to protect the pond from any damage the planting might invite.
To be sure, installing an effective rhizome barrier is a hassle – trenching down 24 or, better still, 36 inches to install one is never truly a welcome proposition, and there’s always the issue of deciding where the barrier should begin and end – but the benefits that flow with that extra effort are, in my book, well worth it if using bamboo is the right decision in a given setting.
And as I point out in the video, bamboo is only one among many plants that can cause trouble by poking holes in a pond liner. Any type that propagates via runners is suspect, and that includes a number of trees, lots of shrubs and dozens of grasses (of which bamboo is one). The key is staying informed, talking with nursery professionals, communicating with other pond professionals and, above all, using a bit of common sense.
I didn’t mention it in the video, but it’s also important to communicate with pond owners about the plants installed around their ponds. They’ll be around the water much more often that you will ever be, and if you teach them what to watch for – say, bamboo shoots probing the air beyond their containment barrier – they can either prevent problems on their own or call for guidance or support.
It’s too great a class of plants to dismiss the way some pond professionals do. That’s why I am so determined to work against conventional wisdom here and in lots of other places where it raises its boring head!
To see a detailed discussion of what to watch for with bamboo, click here.