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Bamboo spacing

To determine how close to plant - divide your budget by your patience...
Bert Silverman

The spacing of bamboo for screens and hedges will depend on the variety you choose and your patience.

If you want an immediate screen, you will have to plant closer. If you have the patience to wait, you can plant further apart. Regardless of the size plant you start with don't expect a bamboo rated for 35 feet to produce a 35-foot culm the first growing season after planting. It will take 7 to 15 years for the plant to develop sufficient root mass for the culm to reach the maximum height it will produce in a given location. Of course, your local growing conditions will determine the actual time required to produce a mature grove. The larger the plants you start with, the quicker the grove will produce its maximum height; generally each 2" of root mass diameter will double the energy potential for the plant.

Remember the bamboo saying: The first year it sleeps, the second it creeps and the third it leaps...

As a general rule, depending on the variety selected, bamboo will provide a full screen in the time indicated below:

Screens and hedges
Time Bamboo required
Immediate Mixed D size field specimens and C size plants, planted 2 feet apart in two rows checkerboard style
2 growing seasons D size field specimens planted 2 feet apart
3 growing seasons D size field specimens planted 6 feet apart
4 growing seasons C size field specimens planted 15 feet apart
5 growing seasons C size field specimens planted 30 feet apart
15 growing seasons 1 A, B, C, or D size bamboo planted 60 feet apart

Poles and shoots
For commercial pole and shoot production plant:
220 bamboos per acre on a 10 x 10 foot grid
You can start harvesting shoots in the 5th year with commercial quantities in the 8th to 12th year.
Pole harvest should start in the 10th year with commercial quantities in the 12th to 15th year.
When harvesting shoots and poles, clear an 8- to 10-foot aisle every 40 feet to allow access for removal of the poles and shoots. With proper selection of varieties you should be able to harvest shoots from March to June. Pole harvest can be scheduled any time after shooting until Feburary.
When planting for bio-mass, divide your plantings into 5 areas and plant 1 area each year for 5 years. Then clear cut harvest the oldest area each year thereafter providing a yearly harvest.
It is a good idea to plant several varieties so if one variety flowers your harvest can continue while the grove recovers.
For more information read Durnford Dart's book The Bamboo Handbook. It will give a good overview on the selection, establishment and utilization of bamboo for shoot and pole production.