The Many Uses for Bamboo
Poles in a Garden

Copyright 2010 McGroarty Enterprises Inc.

Bamboo poles have many uses. In just about any garden, there's always a need to stake or support a certain plant, and another plant may need something it can climb on. There's usually a need for one sort of pole or another in a garden, and bamboo poles can come in very handy. Bamboo is also a renewable resource, as anyone who grows bamboo can attest.

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Bamboo poles come in a variety of diameters and lengths, so there is a size for any need you may have in the garden. If bamboo poles are too long for their intended purpose, they can easily be sawed down to the perfect length. Because bamboo is strong yet lightweight, it is quite versatile and easy to work with. Bamboo poles will also last for several seasons, making bamboo an economical addition to the garden.

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Bamboo poles can be used to construct a simple teepee for climbing plants. To make a bamboo teepee, insert one end each of three or more bamboo poles into the earth, then lash them all together at the top with some twine. This simple teepee is ideal for climbing plants such as pole beans or morning glories. Climbing plants can grab hold of the raised joints along the length of the bamboo with their tendrils as they grow.

A trellis for climbing plants can also be easily constructed from bamboo poles. Whether you want a rectangular trellis or one with a fan shape, bamboo poles can be used to create the trellis you desire for your plants. Pre-built trellises can be found for sale at nearly any place that sells gardening supplies, but they may not be tall enough for certain plants, or they may not fit well into their designated space in the garden. But a bamboo trellis can be custom-made for a perfect fit.

Bamboo poles can also be used to support plants that would otherwise tend to flop over. Using soft rope or a strip of cloth tied loosely to the plant's stem, tie the plant to a single bamboo pole that has been stuck into the ground next to the plant. Be careful to not tie the stem too tightly to the pole. The plant needs some growing room, and the stem could snap in a stiff breeze if it is tied too snugly.

Wire tomato cages can fall over from the weight of a fruit-laden plant, or a strong wind can blow them over. This can be a disaster if the ripening tomatoes are damaged or knocked loose from the plant, and sometimes the entire plant can even be uprooted. But if two or three bamboo poles are sunk into the ground around the cage, then tied to the cage, the cage will be sturdier and much less likely to fall.

Bamboo poles are often used in Japan to create garden fences, gates and screens. Beautiful fences and gates are created by lashing together separate pieces of bamboo in lovely patterns, and sometimes fences are built from bundles of thin bamboo poles that are then lashed together. 

Bamboo screens can be used to accent a garden or to hide an unsightly spot. Bamboo poles with a small diameter are most often used to make screens, and they are typically lashed together with rope or wire. It would require a lot of bamboo to create a screen, so this is something you may want to purchase rather than building it yourself. Bamboo screens can be found in gardening catalogs or even at import shops.

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Bamboo poles that have been bent into an arch shape are also very useful in the garden. If you already have the equipment available for steaming and bending wood, you could also use that equipment to steam and bend bamboo poles. If you don't have the specialized equipment already, it's a lot easier to purchase the bamboo arches from a garden center or catalog. Bamboo arches are becoming more popular, therefore more places are selling them these days.

Some bamboo arches are rather tall and narrow. These would be most useful as small trellises or supports for climbing plants that don't grow extremely tall. Wider bamboo arches are more versatile, and can be used to outline a border or to support floating row covers over plants. To learn more about using floating row covers, go to http://freeplants.com/floating-row-covers.htm 

To use bamboo arches with floating row covers, first push the ends of bamboo arches into the soil over the plants that will be protected with row covers. Then lay the floating row cover fabric over the arches to create a tunnel, and secure the loose ends of the fabric to the ground with earth staples, or cover the ends of the fabric with soil to hold it down to the ground. The arches will support the fabric so it won't be lying directly on the plants and they'll still have some growing room. This tunnel will protect plants from a light frost or hungry insects, while still allowing sunlight and rain to reach the plants.

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Making a border for a flowerbed with bamboo arches is incredibly easy. Simply push the ends of the bamboo arches into the soil, allowing the arches to overlap each other slightly for a pretty effect. If the arches are too tall for your needs, just saw the ends off a bit to make them the perfect size for your border.

The next time you walk past a display of bamboo poles at a garden center, you might want to grab a few poles for your own garden. With a little imagination you'll find all sorts of uses for this environmentally-friendly and versatile product.

by Michael J. McGroarty
Copyright 2010