By Dianne Timmerman
The recent Emergency Drought Declaration illustrates how serious the lack of water has become for businesses and homeowners throughout California. Bamboo can help as a water wise plant. It is widely appreciated in many countries. But in the U.S. its many virtues are less well-known and it is often considered a runaway plant. Actually bamboo is very controllable and has many wonderful, environmentally friendly features to recommend it.
Bamboo has a shallow root system (about 18″) so it takes less water to maintain the lush green beauty of this fast-growing perennial (think grass!), and its height is controlled by the variety chosen (8-35′). If a gray/reclaimed water source can be provided, bamboo thrives. It gives off more 02 than other plant on earth, sequesters carbon dioxide, is deer-resistant and can help to control erosion. Bamboo is actually used as carbon credits in China and Africa, in short, an environmental marvel.
Major uses of bamboo are for privacy screening plantings making unwanted views disappear and quickly too, since some bamboos grow up to 18′ in one year. Bamboo can line driveways and roadways for wind and erosion control. To replace large water-thirsty lawns, homeowners can create a 3-sided bamboo outdoor paradise where it’s 10-15° cooler. Such calm, peaceful, shaded environments form relaxing spaces for entertaining enjoyment yet with a considerable use of less water.
As a landscape design element, bamboo is versatile for all types of architecture. Bamboo plants are aesthetic marvels beautifying businesses and homes, inside and out. Bamboo’s reputation as a sustainable, “green,” environmentally supportive plant is well deserved.
San Luis Obispo County’s only bamboo Farm – Paso Bamboo Farm & Nursery, has 4 acres of groves with a wide variety of species to help enhance landscapes while addressing current water realities as well. Come take a personal tour of Paso Bamboo Farm led by Chief Bambuseros Gavino and Xavier Villa.