The reader who inspired this FAQ series asked me a question about using bamboo privacy hedges. He is a denizen of a cold climate. In addition to using them to make his yard more private, he wondered how they would perform as noise barriers (since he now lives on a property just off of the main road). Here was my response:
Bamboo Hedges as Noise Barriers
Yes, bamboo can be an excellent choice, both as a noise barrier and as a privacy screen. The ideal way to buffer street sounds is to interpose a solid (or nearly solid) mass between your home and the street, as explained in my FAQ on noise barriers. A bamboo privacy hedge can form just such a mass, because its canes grow together so densely, by nature. It also offers the benefit of being able to do the job at a break-neck speed, relatively speaking: no traditional hedgerow plant would allow you to erect so much mass, so quickly.
A word of warning, though: when you buy plants for your bamboo privacy hedge, make sure the plants are labeled as "clumping" bamboos, as opposed to "running" bamboos. The latter give bamboo a bad name, due to their proclivity to spread out of control.
One cold-hardy clumping bamboo that would be a great choice for either a noise buffer or a screen that will make your yard more private is Fargesia rufa. A fast grower, Fargesia rufa tolerates more sun than many of the other cold-hardy clumping varieties (although I’d still try to make sure it received some afternoon shade in the summer). Space the plants about 5 feet apart to form the hedge. They’ll reach 8 feet in height.
So far, so good. You've learned some of the basics in this series of FAQs about having fun with bamboo in the landscape. But what happens when you discover you have a running bamboo on your land, and it's out of control? Learn how to control it in this article on bamboo eradication.