Americans have a love/hate relationship with bamboo. They love its appearance but hate its wanderlust. You can be a step ahead of the competition if you learn about this interesting plant and are able to advise customers on its growth habits and how to keep it in check.

Bamboo is considered by some (but not the federal and state governments) to be invasive. This is because bamboo is not a true tree. While it may look like a tree, its biology is completely different from that of a tree. Bamboo is actually a member of the grass family (Poaceae), and its family lineage is also why it spreads by rhizomes. That’s how turfgrass spreads.

American Arborist Supplies in West Chester, Pa. sells a custom-manufactured bamboo root barrier. Bamboo Blocker is 30 inches wide, 60 mil thick, sold in 50 and 100 foot rolls, and is easy to install.

Rhizomes are root extensions that grow laterally and, periodically, send new plants to the surface. The barrier doesn’t hold the rhizomes back like a dike. Rather, the rhizomes turn upward and continue to grow along the surface inside the barrier. The surface rhizomes have to be cut back if they begin to put pressure on the barrier. Trimming bamboo rhizomes can be an additional source of revenue for your business.

The barrier is installed by digging a trench around the bamboo patch to a depth two inches shallower than the width of the barrier material. The barrier is inserted into the trench. The two ends are overlapped by four inches and the seam is sealed with construction adhesive.

The American Arborist Supplies team has studied bamboo’s behavior and is ready to answer your questions about growing it and controlling it. Call 800-441-8381, e-mail, or visit