Bamboo Screen


There is a narrow strip of ground between my driveway (which runs all the way to the back of the property) and fence on the north side.  On the other side of the fence is a two-story apartment building.  I think it’s rather a hideous thing to look at from my kitchen window, or out in the yard for that matter.  Additionally, there is a second-floor window which faces towards my property.  Thus, I have an issue of psychological privacy.  It’s not like the people are looking out their window at my house all day or anything, but I feel uncomfortable opening the blinds on the kitchen window.  So I tend to leave them closed.

My plan, therefore, is to plant some bamboo in this strip between the driveway and the fence.  With about 32 inches of width to work with, it’s about the only thing that would be that narrow but grow tall enough.

I wasn’t exactly sure how tall I would need it to be, however.  So yesterday I went to Lowes and bought some 1/2″ PVC conduit to use as a story pole.  I used a fat marker to mark off one-foot increments.  Using some duct tape, I temporarily attached it to the fence, and then went in the kitchen and took a photo.  As you can see in the photo below, fifteen feet should block my view of that apartment window.

There is a place that grows and sells bamboo about 45 minutes from Portland called, oddly enough, Bamboo Garden Nursery.  I have been looking through their website for a while, considering the options and gathering information.  There are two basic types of bamboo: running and clumping.  The running types have a bad reputation for escaping and wrecking havoc.  The clumping varieties expand at a considerably reduced rate, and so are easier to contain.  For obvious reasons, I first looked into the clumping bamboos, but I realized two problems.  One, they don’t grow very tall, maybe twelve feet at most, and it would take many years to get even that high.  Two, they are understory plants in their native habitats (usually the mountain forests of Asia), and so do not like a lot of direct sun.  I need bamboo that grows at least to fifteen feet, and can handle full southern exposure.

I emailed the people at Bamboo Garden yesterday with that photo and some explanation of what I had in mind.  They responded today with a couple suggestions and some pricing information I had asked about.


Today I moved the pile of masons sand from the driveway onto a couple tarps along the back fence.  It’s not any prettier, but at least it gets one pile out of the drive.


Today I started clearing off the area where I want to plant bamboo.  Some previous owner had put down black plastic covered with gravel all along that strip between the driveway and the fence.  Over the years, soil has blown in, allowing weeds to grow anyway.  So I began hacking away with my hoe and shovel, stripping off that top layer of weeds, clay, gravel, and plastic.