Trimming a Bamboo Hedge June 2015

Last year I was hired to trim a bamboo hedge that had been overgrown for some years .  I had never ever trimmed a hedge of bamboo this size and thought it would be like trimming a cedar hedge.  Wow…was I ever wrong!  The difficulty lies not only in the size of the bamboo, but the bamboo itself.  Bamboo continues to grow and rejuvenate itself by throwing new shoots from the ground.  The problem is, that the old shoots become woody and dry and do not compost down for many years.  Even the leaves are slow to compost.    So the build up of dry material inside the hedge was over 3 feet deep and pose a serious fire hazard.  One spark and the entire hedge would have caught fire, taking the garage with it.

Bamboo can be very sharp and cuts skin very easily.  Long sleeves and long pants are a necessity.  It is also a good idea to have good work boots or shoes on as the new shoots that have sprouted can be very hard on the feet when working continuously on the hedge and are also a tripping hazard.  Safety glasses are also a necessity to protect eyes from the many branches and overgrowth when trimming as well as the dust and debris stirred up from working in it.  This was one of the most labour intensive jobs I have ever done and I can honestly say I was shocked at the intensity and amount of labour it took to bring it under control.  In retrospect, I must say, never ever plant a bamboo hedge in an area where it must be kept neat and tidy.  This hedge should be trimmed every couple of months to ensure it maintains its shape and size.  Bamboo not only survives here but thrives here and continually grows at an astronomical rate all year long often becoming invasive within the first year of growth.   The branches and leaves are difficult to trim and prune and it is virtually impossible to keep it under control.  There were many new shoots that were growing up to 30 feet away from the hedge.  The tools I used were hedge trimmers, loppers, hand trimmers and pruning shears.

I would strongly recommend the following: Do not plant it near buildings as it can pose a fire hazard.  Do not plant it near a pond as its roots will grow towards the water and possibly cause problems with your pond liner.  It is a plant that loves room…lots of room…so remember the gardener’s motto…“Right Plant…Right Place”


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