Fast-growing bamboo makes an ideal backyard privacy screen. The soft rustle of bamboo canes in a breeze is an added peaceful touch. However, bamboo is a potentially invasive plant, spreading through the ground via rhizome runners. Opt for the less-invasive clumping varieties, such as dwarf Buddha belly (Bambusa vulgaris), giant timber bamboo (Bambusa oldhamii) or 'Alphonse Karr' (Bambusa multiplex). All three grow in many warmer United States climates, with the latter two able to tolerate temperatures down to 15 degrees F.
Till the ground in the area where you want to create the bamboo screen. Many bamboo species will grow up to 3 feet in the first year. Ideal soil for bamboo is moist but not marshy. Bamboo also prefers free-draining but not too sandy ground. Add rotted manure to the soil for extra nutrients and to help water drainage.
Add 18-6-8 fertilizer to the soil in doses suggested by the package. Ideally prepare the soil in February or March for planting soon after, in early spring.
Buy either rhizomes or young bamboo clumps from a garden nursery, or remove some carefully from a growing bamboo plant. Dig a hole in the soil larger than the spread roots of the bamboo clump.
Insert the bamboo clump gently, then firm up the earth around the stems. Water the soil deeply to help establish the roots. Space the bamboo clumps 2 to 3 feet apart for screens and hedges.
Spread a 4-to-6-inch layer of straw or grass mulch around the base of the bamboo clumps, leaving a 2-inch gap around the stems. This will keep moisture locked into the ground and increase soil temperatures to help promote rapid growth.
Prune bamboo screens in spring, just before the canes develop leaves. Cut to the preferred hedge height. Make cuts an inch or two above a node bud. Shape the bamboo screen by trimming off side branches.