Bamboo is a tall grass which grows in straight, strong and flexible canes. A vigorous plant, bamboo is the fastest growing thing on the planet with some species growing more than 20 inches a day. Bamboo comes in a variety of heights, colors and appearances and you should take care to pick bamboo that is right for your garden. Some types of bamboo are highly aggressive, and can quickly overgrow your garden if they are not controlled.
Bamboo species grow quickly and many grow quite tall, making them a smart choice for privacy screens. Bamboo comes in two main varieties: running and clumping. Clumping bamboo grow in small, tight clumps, making it ideal for blocking windows and other peeking spots. Used a raised planter in your garden to block a neighbor's window looking out onto your property. Or, grow a grove of clumping bamboo in front of your own window to filter the sun or increase indoor privacy.
While clumping bamboos make good privacy barriers for small spots, running bamboos can be used as privacy hedges. Dig a trench around a rectangular patch of dirt at least 1 foot deep and 6 inches wide and fill it with a non-decomposing mulch, such as gravel or river stone. Or, surround the patch with plastic or metal barriers at least 2 1/2 feet deep. Plant running bamboo at several spots in the dirt. It will quickly spread, creating a continuous barrier wall to safeguard your privacy. The barrier or trench will prevent it from spreading beyond the designated area.
Many strains of bamboo like wet conditions, and the thick roots help prevent soil erosion. Grow running bamboo along the sides of a river or stream to help keep the banks from eroding. Use large boulders, retaining walls or buried barriers to prevent the bamboo from spreading too far from the river bank.
With its lush leaves and segmented stems, bamboo makes an exotic addition in a Western garden. Plant an unusual bamboo species, such as black bamboo, as a specimen plant. Black bamboo has dark brown to black stems and bright green leaves, creating a striking contrast. It is also a non-aggressive spreading bamboo, making it relatively easy to control even without a barrier. Grow it in planters on either side of your front entrance to add definition and draw the line. Or, grow it in the corners of a square garden or patio to give definition and structure.