Friday, June 30, 2006

Bamboo - a blessing or curse?

When we moved into our house in West Meade twenty years ago, we had a small bamboo patch that the previous owners had planted. Within time, the bamboo proliferated like bermuda grass or Georgia kudzu. Bamboo shoots would pop up everywhere and even punture the lining of a above ground swimming pool. We were told nothing short of a nuclear bomb would kill bamboo. We even had a construction grade bulldozer up on its two rear wheels trying to push back the massive roots! We tried laying down steel, metal, old plywood and throwing bush on top to choke the bamboo out with no luck.

A couple of years ago, a church did a teaching series using Survivor as a theme. We gladly supplied all-you-can-cut bamboo for background props. We were disappointed that the series only lasted six weeks rather than two years. Recently I posted on Craigslist free bamboo and had a few takers, but not enough to clear away but maybe 20% of bamboo available (offer still stands by the way! - just me mail me at wonderdawg at gmail dot com)

Rather than curse the bamboo, I was able to turn it into a blessing. Recycle!

The more mature bamboo was approximately 20 plus feet tall and up to 1.5 inches thick. So after harvesting the bamboo, I built a fence using pressure treated 2 x 4 's, 1 x 6 planks for a decorated finish, cement for anchoring the posts and lagbolts.

The method is simple - harvest the bamboo, cut off the leafy tops, dig a hole, sandwich the bamboo between the 2 x 4 's every 4 feet, using a block of 2 x 4 s for a spacer. Level the bamboo every five poles by drilling the bamboo with drywall screws into the studs, otherwise it's like building with pick up sticks. Add a lag bolt to tighten up the middle of the 2 x 4, pour cement to anchor the footings, nail 1 x 6 deck planking to finish off the fence. Plant hostas and iris for effect.

Here's the finished fence between the two sheds (took a weekend and was easier as I could nail to two existing structures for support).

Here's a previous fence built five years ago - as you can see the bamboo ages well - stain or sealer could be added to preserve the bamboo, but I just find it easier to thread in a newer piece of bamboo.

I planning to build another fence along the driveway, but this time, use concrete blocks for the footers; assemble the fence flat on the ground using a prefab method. With forty feet of fence to assemble, and knowing that it takes 20 poles of bamboo for a 8 x 8 section of fence, I'm looking to take the fast and easy way out while maintaining the integrity of the structure.


"The Glenifer" said...

I like that fence. If I can talk the hubby into it, maybe we'll take some off your hands and build one, too.

We went to a park near Montgomery, Alabama called the Bamboo Forest that has old, giant bamboo with 8-12 inch diameter stalks. It was big enough for a guy of your talents to build a bamboo house.

Kerry Woo said...

Hubby needs a project - start with a little fence to hide the trash cans and go from there.

I'll have to check out the Bamboo Forest online - thanks for the info!