How to Plant Bamboo or Reeds


Bamboo and reeds are both members of the grass family. They both are quick-growing, ornamental grasses that can be used to create natural barriers and wildlife habitats. Bamboo creates a perfect screen or windbreak, while reeds are key in preserving a shoreline by preventing erosion. Likewise, bamboo and reeds can quickly take over any area where they are planted. Careful planning is important before you plant to ensure you do not lose your yard to these woody grasses, but the planting and care are simple tasks.

Step 1

Prepare the soil for bamboo by adding compost to create a slightly acidic, loamy soil. Bamboo will need well-drained soil--it does not like to have saturated roots. Reeds, on the other hand, grow best in a soggy environment. Choose a spot for your reeds on the shoreline of a pond, marsh, lake or stream.

Step 2

Dig holes to be about three times the size of your rootball for both bamboo and reeds. Alternately, you can dig a trench for the planting of your bamboo or reeds. Bamboo plants should not be placed closer than 4 feet apart. Once the hole has been filled back in with soil, carefully tamp down the soil to ensure there are no air pockets. Plant your reed clumps about 2 feet apart from one another--or as close as 1 foot apart if you are building a reed bank.

Step 3

Mulch around your bamboo plants with leaves or grass clippings to help create the desired soil. Spread 2 inches of mulch in the area you have planted your bamboo. Apply a topsoil rich in organic matter for your reeds. Bamboo, as well as reeds, are low maintenance and will spread quickly. Newly planted bamboo will require frequent watering. Reeds will need water if a drought occurs and causes the water to recede away from its roots.

Tips and Warnings

  • In the United States, common reed is an invasive species that can take over its environment, driving out native plant and animal species.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Mulch


  • American Bamboo Society: Planting and Caring for Bamboo
  • Bamboo Nursery: Maintenance Tips for Growing Happy, Healthy Bamboos
  • Mississippi State University: Reed Banks

Who Can Help

  • Plants for a Future: Common Reed
Keywords: planting bamboo and reeds, ornamental grasses, growing bamboo or reeds

About this Author

Em Connell McCarty has been writing for 27 years. She studied writing at the University of Iowa and at Hollins University in Virginia. She writes fiction, creative non-fiction and essays. McCarty's work has been published in Hip Mama magazine.