Install bamboo barrier retrospectively - instructions

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Bamboo - Bambusoideae

Already when planting a bamboo shrub, protection against uncontrolled spread of the growth-friendly roots should be planned. Especially if the bamboo is to find its new location near property boundaries, garden paths, ponds, roads and foundations. Such protection can also be retrofitted. However, it is important to have the right material and the appropriate installation depth for the bamboo barrier. The root spurs, called rhizomes, are very strong and pierce just about anything that gets in their way.


  • Bamboo barrier is also called rhizome barrier, root protection or root barrier
  • protects against uncontrolled spread
  • only makes sense if the plant propagates through the roots
  • Materials: special foil
  • Thickness: at least 2 mm
  • Depth: at least 70 cm, in some plants 100 cm
  • usually with locking rail for the ends

Why is a bamboo barrier necessary?

Bamboo is one of the plant species that proliferate over long, root-like extensions (rhizomes) deep in the ground. These foothills can become up to a few meters long in older bamboo plants and then suddenly again form shoots in neighboring beds, on the lawn or even on neighboring properties. From these individual shoots quickly develop whole plants, which in turn multiply by rhizomes. Within a few years, a larger species of bamboo occupies entire areas in this way and stifles everything that has grown there before.

Do all bamboo species need a lock?

Not all bamboo species also form a pronounced root shooter. For each species a distinction is made between:
  • Foothills driving (bamboo barrier urgently needed)
  • horstig growing (without bamboo barrier)
Clumping bamboos do not form an offshoot, but multiply via seeds. These include only a few varieties:
  • Fargesia (garden bamboo)
  • Borinda (new breed, breeding since 1994)

What to do if the bamboo barrier has been forgotten?

Bamboo - Bambusoideae

Often a gardener is not sufficiently advised when purchasing a bamboo on the extreme propagation behavior of the bamboo. For many years ignorance was widespread in this area. The gardener only then realizes that the plant is quite spreading when it is almost too late. But do not worry, you do not have to dig up and destroy the whole plant, a bamboo barrier can also be retrofitted.


In general, the subsequent installation of a bamboo barrier is not a problem, but is very labor intensive. The solution is simple: Lift a narrow trench around the bamboo and insert a rhizome barrier. Then the trench is refilled. Depending on the nature of the soil and the amount of work involved, this can be done with different tools.
  • hardened drainage spade and pickaxe
  • grave cutter
  • Mini excavators
Tip: With very large-growing bamboo species or old stands, an installation depth of 70 centimeters is no longer sufficient. Here it makes sense not to save at the wrong end and immediately set a barrier with a depth of 100 centimeters.

Materials for the film

For installation as a rhizome barrier commercially available special films are available. Simple pond liners, root barriers or root protection foils are not suitable for this purpose because they are quickly broken by the hard root shoots. Variants made of polypropylene, as well as rubber mats, old rain barrels or thinner foils do not withstand the rhizomes. Good protection is provided by a 2 mm thick film made of High Density Polyethylene. In the specialized trade this bamboo barrier is also available under the name PEHD or HDPE film. Pay attention to when buying on:
  • root strength
  • Frost resistance (at least -30 degrees)
  • rodent protected
  • Chemical resistance
  • harmful substances
  • UV stability
Tip: On average, good slides cost per meter running: 6 euros (70 cm wide) or 9 euros (100 cm wide). In addition, there are about 20-30 euros for a connecting rail made of aluminum.


The vigor of the rhizome-forming bamboo species should not be underestimated. Even under our climatic conditions larger varieties reach an extension of about 20 mĀ² without bamboo barrier after about 5-10 years. Recommended are limited areas of at least 8-12 mĀ², so that the plant can still develop well. Simple rule for calculating the space requirement:
Growth height x 2.5 = minimum space requirement
Example: Expected plant height of adult plant: 10 m
This results in 10 x 2.5 = 25 mĀ². A square area would therefore have the edge length 5 x 5 m.

Install bamboo barrier

It's best to use a 100-centimeter-wide foil right away. And you have to dig an equally deep ditch around the plant. The area that still remains for the bamboo to grow must not be underestimated.Just as important as the right material and installation depth is that the film must never be flush with the upper edge of the earth. It must necessarily survive at least five inches above the ground level. Otherwise, the rhizomes can also grow over it and spread further.
  • Dig trench around the plant
  • Depth: about 65 or 95cm
  • (Note space requirements of the bamboo)
  • Leave the foil 5 cm above ground level
  • Both ends of the film with a closure (security rail) provided
  • Ditch again
  • Compact the soil well
If you do not want to or can not provide your bamboo barrier with a screwed-on locking rail, you have the option of leaving the film on one side open about 50 centimeters. There is not filled with earth from the outside, but only filled with dry leaves or straw. If rhizomes form, they are automatically guided to this free spot and can then be tapped with the spade one to three times a year.
Tip: Attention, the bamboo rhizomes do not stop at walls! If you plant a bamboo on the house wall, you must seal it with a bamboo barrier in all directions (also towards the house wall).

Supply inside a bamboo barrier

Bamboo - Bambusoideae

The gardener must never forget that a bamboo within a rhizome barrier is no longer comparable to plants that grow outside in the wild. Water and nutrient content in the soil are available only to a limited extent. The bamboo can now be almost compared to a container plant. Therefore, the larger the limited area, the easier to care for and the harder the plants are. Furthermore, note:
  • Water regularly (even on frost-free days in winter)
  • Bamboo out again and again (shoots cut close to the ground)
  • dig out a complete piece of soil together with roots and rhizomes after a few years and fill it with new soil (only then can the roots have permanent space)
In order for the root shoots of bamboo do not spread throughout the garden, must be installed in many species necessarily a bamboo barrier. If this was forgotten during planting, it can also be used later without problems. However, this is associated with a lot of work. For this, a narrow ditch about one meter deep has to be dug around the plant and a special foil made of high density polyethylene has to be embedded. After that, the bamboo is no longer a real outdoor plant, but more like a container plant to treat.

Tips for installing a rhizome barrier

The rhizome barrier should be used at the same time when planting the bamboo. This way, the plant can be put in its place right from the start. If it is a subsequent installation, it should first be seen in how far the roots of the bamboo has already spread. According to this spread or the area in which the bamboo is to grow, a ditch is dug.
Now a correspondingly long rhizome barrier is needed, whose beginning and end is connected to the above-mentioned aluminum rail to form a ring. The HDPE sheets should overlap slightly in the rail and then be fixed with screws in the corresponding holes. This ensures that a complete connection is available.
If this were not the case, the roots of the bamboo could grow into the rail and destroy it. It is crucial to know that bamboo needs a lot of space. A rhizome barrier should be at least 1.5 meters in diameter.
Recognize that the rhizome barrier was chosen too small, it can be because the bamboo gets over time yellow leaves and suddenly stunted.
The rhizome barrier itself should be placed about 64 centimeters deep into the soil. At the top she should protrude about five inches from the ground. Although this is not the best visual highlight, it is important to avoid further spreading. This overlap can be cleverly fixed with some stones and concealed at the same time.

Video Board: Root Barrier Installation.

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