Bamboo privacy screen in lush green

What Bamboo Is Best for Privacy Screens?

Elevating your landscape with a bamboo privacy screen is a substantial undertaking that requires pertinent knowledge. The main issue that many people face is not knowing which types of bamboo are best for privacy screens. 

There are many varieties of bamboo that are good for privacy screens, including:

  • Blue Chungii
  • Scottish Bamboo
  • Seabreeze Bamboo 

Each bamboo species has unique qualities that should be considered prior to purchasing and using it to form a screen. These qualities include the average height, diameter, USDA Zones, appearance, and upkeep requirements. 

Continue reading to discover how to choose the best bamboo for privacy screens and to learn about some of the best-known bamboo species to use for privacy screens. In the end, we have a quick guide that helps you determine which bamboo will be best for YOU and YOUR HOME.

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How to choose the best bamboo for your privacy screen

Choosing the right bamboo is possible once you consider several factors. Some of these factors include: 

  • whether the bamboo is a clumping or running variety
  • the appearance: color, size, and height of the bamboo
  • the bamboo’s sensitivity and care requirements
  • USDA zones and where you’re located

Below, we will examine each of these factors in more detail, as each will help bring you closer to the best bamboo for your privacy screen. 

Clumping vs. running bamboo

There are two main categories that bamboo species fall under, and these are clumping bamboo and running bamboo. 

Clumping bamboo, the non-invasive type, is the preferred variety of bamboo for screens in most cases. This is because clumping bamboo “clumps” and stays in a defined area. It grows from the center outward, and the growth is gradual and easily controlled. This makes clumping bamboo a great option for forming screens without the use of planters. However, you can, of course, plant them in planter boxes.

Running Bamboo, the invasive type, is not often preferred for privacy screens. 

The main concern with running bamboo is that shoots from the mother bamboo plant can spread randomly and over great lengths. This is not always conducive to creating a privacy screen, because the bamboo plant could easily become spread out and non-uniform. If you have fallen in love with a running bamboo type, you can contain it by mowing a wide area around the planting bed, installing a (natural) barrier, or using a planter. This type of bamboo needs more maintenance for root control. You don’t want your neighbors upset and start a war, so keep this in mind when picking the type of bamboo.

For your privacy screen, you’ll likely want to go for a clumping bamboo species. That way, you can essentially mold your privacy screen at the time that you plant your bamboo. 

Bamboo appearance: color, diameter, and height 

Bamboo comes in a wide range of colors, textures, sizes (diameter), and height. Each of these aspects of appearance will determine how your privacy screen will ultimately look. 

You’ll find bamboo in various colors, including shades of: 

  • Green
  • Yellow
  • Brown
  • Red
  • Black
  • Blue
  • Combinations of the above colors

Bamboo shoots can grow more than 98 feet (30 m) tall and as large as 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. So, picking the right bamboo also comes down to your preference in appearance. 

Bamboo sensitivity to the environment

It is imperative to consider specific bamboo species’ environmental sensitivity and care requirements. Otherwise, your bamboo privacy screen will (1) never come to full fruition, or (2) will die off due to some environmental influence. 

Some species of bamboo are more sensitive than others. For instance, some bamboo species flourish in a tropical climate while others do well in cooler climates. Cold-hardiness (resistance to cold weather) varies across bamboo species, so this should be considered. Hardiness temperatures (the lowest temperature that the plant can survive in) can be easily found online. 

Be careful of the hardiness temperature. If the temperature outside dips below the specified hardiness temperature for your specific bamboo species, your bamboo could become horribly damaged and long-term growth of the plant could be negatively affected. 

The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is widely used as a tool to determine which plants might thrive at different U.S locations. If you would like to familiarize yourself with which zone you reside in, click here for more information. Think about how the climate is where you live and choose a bamboo type that is receptive to the climate there. 

Bamboo care requirements

Although bamboo isn’t a maintenance-intense plant, you still need to know what you’re up to. This includes watering, trimming, pruning, root control, and fertilizing.

Different varieties of bamboo have different care requirements, and these requirements should be fully disclosed prior to planting your bamboo plant. 

Most bamboo plants require full sun while others do fine without loads of sun. For instance, the Fargesia variety of bamboo should have a little shade when it gets too hot. The soil is an important factor for a beautiful privacy screen. It needs to be well-draining and well aerated. On the subject of pH, bamboos like slightly acidic soil (a pH of 6 is perfect). Fertilizer may need to be used to stimulate the nutritional needs of your bamboo. In addition, you might find that your bamboo species needs more water than the average bamboo. 

Learn more about pH testers for soils here!

Do a little self-reflection and determine how much work you’d prefer to do to maintain your bamboo privacy screen. If you know that you don’t have much time or energy to put in lots of care for your bamboo, choose a variety that is known to be easy to care for. Also, definitely don’t pick a running bamboo if you are unable to control the spreading!

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Bamboo species for privacy screens

Now that you know about different factors to consider when choosing your bamboo, let’s look at some specific bamboo species that are great for privacy screens. 

Species Type USDA Min. Temp. Av. Height Dia.
Fargesia Dracocephala Clumping 6-9 -10°F (-23°C) 8-12 ft (2-4 m) 0.5 inch (1.25 cm)
Scottish Bamboo Running 6-10 -10°F (-23°C) 10 ft (3 m) 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Fargesia Murielae Clumping 5-9 -20°F (-29°C) 10-14 ft (3-4 m) 0.5 inch (1.25 cm)
Pseudosasa Japonica Running 7-10 0°F (-18 °C) 18 ft (5.5 m) 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Bambusa Nana Clumping 8-9 29°F (-2°C) 20 ft (6 m) 2 inches (5 cm)
Phyllostachys Bissetii Running 6-10 -10°F (-23°C) 20-24 ft (6-7 m) 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Zig-Zag Bamboo Running 6-10 -10°F (-23°C) 25-30 ft (8-9 m) 2 inch (5 cm)
Seabreeze Bamboo Clumping 8-11 15°F (-9°C) 30-35 ft (9-11 m) 2.5 inches (6 cm)
Phyllostachys Decora Running 6-10 -10°F (-23°C) 30-35 ft (9-10 m) 2.5 inches (6 cm)
Bambusa Textilis Gracilis Clumping 9-11 20°F (-6°C) 30-40 ft (9-12 m) 1 inch (2.5 cm)
Blue Chungii Clumping 9-11 20°F (-7°C) 40 ft (12 m) 2 inches (5 cm)
Bambusa Ventricosa Clumping 9-12 18°F (-8°C) 40-55 ft (12-17 m) 2.25 inches (6 cm)
Phyllostachys Rubromarginata Running 5-10 -5°F (-20°C) 40-60 ft (12-18 m) 2 inches (5 cm)
Bambusa Oldhamii Clumping 8-11 20°F (-6°C) 40-65 ft (12-20 m) 4 inches (10 cm)

Clumping types: Non-invasive bamboo for privacy screens

Green Seabreeze Bamboo plants in a row for privacy screening
Seabreeze Bamboo (Source)

Bambusa Malingensis (Seabreeze Bamboo)

  • Average height: 30-35 ft (9-11 m)
  • Diameter: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 8-11 
  • Hardiness: 15°F (-9°C)
  • Light: Full sun to shade

Seabreeze bamboo is ideal for creating beautiful privacy screens in coastal areas. It’s a gorgeous bamboo plant with small dark green culms and leaves and wood that has a fine grain. It’s a clumping (non-invasive) bamboo that originated in Southern China. A cold-hardy plant, Seabreeze bamboo is able to withstand temperatures as low as 15°F. 

Not only can it withstand low temperatures, but it’s also resilient when it comes to floods and drought. You’ll also find that this bamboo variety is wind-tolerant. Seabreeze bamboo has no problem with salty air, which makes it a great choice for the coast.

Seabreeze bamboo is also fast-growing, and it has a moderate need for water (not too little, not too much). You can let it soak up the sun or chill out in the shade – either one is fine. 

Seabreeze Bamboo is the dream choice for privacy screens. If you‘d like a robust and no-fuss bamboo type, this one is a great option.

Blue Chungii Bamboo with a blue hue on the stems
Blue Chungii Bamboo (source: Flickr)

Blue Chungii (Tropical Blue Bamboo) 

  • Average height: 40 ft (12 m)
  • Diameter: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-7°C)
  • Light: Full sun to shade

Blue Chungii or Tropical Blue Bamboo is another species of bamboo that’s great for creating privacy screens. What’s super appealing about this bamboo plant is its color. The culms have uncommonly long internodes and a stunning blue hue. The branches and leaves are a rich, vibrant green color. 

Tropical Blue Bamboo is of the clumping type. This species originated in Southern China and Vietnam. 

This bamboo is able to withstand temperatures as low as 20°F. It likes both full sun and shade. You should water this bamboo regularly but not too often. 

This variety may be a good choice for you. If you are looking for a bamboo type that doesn’t require too much maintenance and is breathtaking, you should consider the Blue Chungii for your privacy screen. 

Culms of Bambusa Textilis
Bambusa Textilis

Bambusa Textilis Gracilis (Weaver’s Bamboo)

  • Average height: 30-40 ft (9-12 m)
  • Diameter: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-6°C)
  • Light: Full sun

Weaver’s Bamboo is another fabulous option for privacy screens. These plants have evergreen foliage, meaning that the bamboo always has leaves that are green, no matter what time of year it is. The culm is a vibrant yellowish-green. 

This variety of bamboo has average water needs (not too little, not too much). It tolerates heat, cold, and wind really well. 

This bamboo species grows well in pots both indoors and outdoors. You could simply line up several potted Weaver’s bamboo plants outside to create a privacy screen. 

Shot from below of tall Bambusa Oldhamii plants
Bambusa Oldhamii (source: Flickr)

Bambusa Oldhamii (Giant Timber Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40-65 ft (12-20 m)
  • Diameter: 4 inches (10 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 8-11
  • Hardiness: 20°F (-6°C)
  • Light: Full sun or partial shade

As the name dictates, Oldhamii (or Giant Timber Bamboo) is a tall species of bamboo. It’s of the non-invasive, clumping type. The Oldhamii’s timber is large, tall, and clumped together very tightly. The species has fresh green foliage and culms that are various shades of green and brown. 

As a giant bamboo species, this plant requires a lot of fertilizer and water for the first year. This way, the plant has a good start and can grow to its full potential. Not much upkeep is required after the first year. 

This bamboo shoots from late in the spring up until the end of the fall. It takes 3-5 years for the plant to fully mature. Full sun is best for the Oldhamii. 

This bamboo will produce a high, substantial privacy screen. If you are looking for a bamboo variety that is enormous and doesn’t take much upkeep, this bamboo may be the right pick for your privacy screen. 

Bambusa Nana plants in a garden
Bambusa Nana

Bambusa Nana (Thai Silk Bamboo)

  • Average height: 20 ft (6 m)
  • Diameter: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 8-9 
  • Hardiness: 29°F (-2°C)
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade

The Thai silk bamboo species has tiny green leaves and culms of varying green. This bamboo produces delicate foliage that forms a lush canopy at the tops of the culms. 

This variety likes full sun and is cold tolerant. It’s got a tiny footprint, meaning that it can fit into the smallest of garden spaces. Thai Silk bamboo is not as cold hardy as some of the other bamboo species featured in this article. However, it can still withstand frigid temperatures. 

This bamboo variety stands out from the others for its aesthetic appeal. It’s elegant and makes a substantial impression as both a privacy screen and a conversation piece. 

So, if you are looking for a mid-height privacy screen that has a beauty that’s impossible to ignore, this bamboo species is for you. 

Bamboo culms of the Buddha Belly species with rounded internodes
Buddha’s Belly Bamboo

Bambusa Ventricosa (Buddha’s Belly)

  • Average height: 40-55 ft (12-17 m) / potted usually 8-15 ft (2-5m)
  • Diameter: 2.25 inches (6 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 9-12
  • Hardiness: 18°F (-8°C)
  • Light: Sun to shade

Buddha’s Belly bamboo is originated in Southern China and is often seen growing in Southern California, Southern Florida, and Hawaii. 

Aesthetically, the plant has tiny green leaves (which are evergreen) and green culms. What’s really special about this bamboo species, it has internodes that swell (which is how the bamboo species got its name “Buddha Belly”). They swell whenever the plant is under stress. This reaction may make it easier for beginner bamboo owners to pinpoint issues with the plant. 

As far as care goes, it’s relatively simple. They need regular watering (not too little, not too much) and they thrive in both sun and shade. 

An important thing to note about this bamboo species is that it cannot survive where there is substantial frost, so if you are living in an area where frost might be prevalent, you’ll want to pass on this species. 

All in all, this species is an awesome choice for privacy screens if you live in the appropriate USDA zones and prefer a plant with little required upkeep. 

Fargesia Dracocephala (Dragon’s Head Bamboo)

  • Average height: 8-12 ft (2-4 m)
  • Diameter: 0.5 inch (1.25 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 6-9
  • Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
  • Light: No full sun, better in shade

Fargesia Dracocephala is a good option for privacy screens. The plant is low to mid-height and boasts beautiful green culms and evergreen foliage. It has a weeping form, meaning that the leaves fall over as they grow. 

Dragon’s Head Bamboo is very cold hardy, withstanding temperatures below 0°F. It’s also wind-resistant and drought-resistant

Before bringing this species home, it’s important to know that too much sun is bad for Dragon’s Head Bamboo. Prolonged sunlight will burn its leaves, and these burns will be visible. 

You’ll love this bamboo species for your privacy screen if: 

  1. you find the drooping, willow-like leaves appealing
  2. you don’t mind taking extra care to make sure the leaves don’t burn
  3. you like that the species is relatively no-fuss
Fargesia Muriliae bamboo in a garden
Fargesia Muriliae

Fargesia Murielae (Umbrella Bamboo)

  • Average height: 10-14 ft (3-4 m)
  • Diameter: 0.5 inch (1.25 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 5-9
  • Hardiness: -20°F (-29°C)
  • Light: Part-shade

Umbrella Bamboo is a non-invasive clumping bamboo with a canopy of evergreen leaves and shoots that are light blue/tan when new and a yellowish-green when they are mature. 

This variety is known as the cold-hardiest of all bamboos, being able to withstand temperatures as low as -20°F. While it does great in cold temperatures, it does not do quite as well in climates with high heat and/or humidity

This bamboo looks its best when it gets some degree of shade. This species is also wind-resistant and drought-tolerant

As beautiful as this bamboo is, it doesn’t take much work to keep it looking great. It’s a fabulous choice for your privacy screen. 

Running bamboo species for privacy screens

The only issue that running bamboos entail is containment. People desire a thin lengthy patch but running bamboo spreads into every direction. Therefore, you have to either use a large planter or use root barriers. There are different ways to build root barriers. Once you did the initial installation, you’ll just have to do yearly checks and maintenance.

Learn how to stop your bamboo from spreading here!

Bushy green bamboo plants - Phyllostachys Humilis
Phyllostachys Humilis (Source: WikiCommons)

Phyllostachys Humilis (Scottish Bamboo)

  • Average height: 10 ft (3 m)
  • Diameter: Less than 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 6-10
  • Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
  • Light: Sun to shade

Scottish bamboo is a short, but cold-hardy bamboo that is perfect for privacy screens in-ground or in containers. This species has evergreen leaves that grow from bottom to top. This will ensure the privacy you need with its hedge-like appearance.

Although we say the average height is 10 ft, P. Humilis can grow up to 20 feet if grown under the right conditions. USDA Zones 7 and 8 are the perfect location. In Zone 6, mature canes can reach around 8 to 14 feet.

Shoots start out in a reddish color, then turn mint green as they mature and eventually have a yellow-greenish color. The culms of Scottish Bamboo are quite thin with around 1 inch or less. However, they grow pretty dense even in confined places. This is what makes Scottish Bamboo a great species for privacy screens.

Once the roots are established, P. Humilis plants can withstand short-term drought and frost. The plant may take damage but it will recover in the next growing season. This species is really easy to take care of. However, if you place it in a sunny place, be aware that it will grow and spread faster because it loves the sun.

Get more information about Phyllostachys Humilis!

Phyllostachys Decora (Beautiful Bamboo)

  • Average height: 30-35 ft (9-10 m)
  • Diameter: 2.5 inches (6 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 6-10
  • Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
  • Light: Sun to shade

This bamboo is called “Beautiful Bamboo” for a reason. It’s got straight culms and green foliage. The main aesthetic appeal comes from the newer shoots which have a multicolored culm sheath. Shades of yellow, red, green, cream and maroon make the plant stand out. 

Not only is the plant beautiful, but it’s also just about as strong as a bamboo plant can be. It can withstand temperatures as low as -10°F. In addition to being able to withstand the cold, Beautiful Bamboo can handle heat and drought while still looking great.

This bamboo species is perfect for creating a tall, dense privacy screen. It’s a good choice for your privacy screen if you want a screen that has multiple colors, you live in an area that is prone to relatively extreme temperatures, and you don’t mind putting in work to ensure that the shoots don’t spread out of control. 

Get more information about Phyllostachys decora!

Pseudosasa Japonica bamboo plant with thin culms and dense dark foliage
Pseudosasa Japonica

Pseudosasa Japonica (Arrow Bamboo)

  • Average height: 18 ft (5.5 m)
  • Diameter: Less than 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 7-10
  • Hardiness: 0°F (-18 °C) 
  • Light: Full sun to partial shade

Arrow Bamboo is one of the most widely grown species in the U.S. It is an excellent choice for low privacy screens. It will simply branch out low to the ground with its large drooping leaves. Pruning will give you an even denser hedge of whichever height you desire. The glossy leaves are greener in full sun and lighter green in the shade.

If you live by the coast, this is a great choice for you, too. Arrow Bamboo can tolerate windy areas, salt, and loves the sun. So, it is literally perfect for coastal and beach locations. It can also survive shortish frost periods. Some culms may look damaged after the winter but you can remove those and wait for the fresh shoots to fill it up.

Get more information about Pseudosasa Japonica!

Phyllostachys Bissetii Bamboo in a garden
Phyllostachys Bissetii (source: WikiCommons)

Phyllostachys Bissetii

  • Average height: 20-24 ft (6-7 m)
  • Diameter: 1 inch (2.5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 6-10
  • Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
  • Light: Sun to partial shade

Dark green thin culms with evergreen thick foliage provide great privacy for your garden. Bissitii can grow up to 30 ft tall, but often only gets around 20-24 ft. It has thin but strong upright culms, that sometimes get a bit leggy. However, the foliage is dense and all-year-round.

This cold-hardy runner can withstand low temperatures. It will grow well in planters as well.

Get more information about Phyllostachys Bissetii!

Fresh red margin bamboo shoot
Red Margin Bamboo shoot (source: Flickr)

Phyllostachys Rubromarginata (Red Margin Bamboo)

  • Average height: 40-60 ft (12-18 m)
  • Diameter: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 5-10
  • Hardiness: -5°F (-20°C)
  • Light: Full sun to shade

Red Margin is a vigorous grower, perfect for people who want to see fast results. It produces more culms per year than any other bamboo species. The name comes from the red shades on the sheaths of new shoots. The culms are actually lush green with long internodes. They grow upright and are solid, perfect for holding up the dense emerald-green foliage.

This species is hardy and can withstand cold dry winds. However, it grows best in full sun. Culms will become taller and thicker and the colors will be more brilliant than in the shade.

Get more information about Phyllostachys Rubromarginata!

Zig-zag-style bamboo species with green stripes and magenta spots on yellow culms
Phyllostachys Aureosulcata Spectabilis

Phyllostachys Aureosulcata Spectabilis (Zig-Zag Bamboo)

  • Average height: 25-30 ft (8-9 m)
  • Diameter: 2 inches (5 cm)
  • USDA Zones: 5-10
  • Hardiness: -10°F (-23°C)
  • Light: Full sun or light shade

If you want something really special, a highlight in your garden, then get the Zig-Zag Bamboo. This rare bamboo develops a zig-zaggy shape mostly at the base of the culm. The rest of the culm is very upright. They have a light green color, sometimes with a yellow touch. There is a green stripe between the internodes. If grown in full sun, you’ll find red or magenta above internodes on fresh culms. This will disappear after a couple of months.

The leaves are pretty small but they have a “two-sided coloring”. The underside is a matte green. This seemingly two-tone colors will especially come out when the leaves swing in the wind.

Although Spectabilis is cold-hardy, it thrives in subtropical to warm climates. It can tolerate low winter temperatures. All the growth above the ground will die below 0°F but don’t worry. It will grow back in spring.

Get more information about Phyllostachys Aureosulcata Spectabilis!

More bamboo species for privacy screens here!

So, which bamboo species should you choose for your privacy screen?

Now that we gave you buckets full of information, it’s your term. We cannot take the decision off of your shoulders. But, of course, we still want to help you until you find the species that is perfect for you.

Here are some questions that you should ask yourself before you pick any bamboo:

  • What temperatures do I expect over the year? What USDA Zone do I live in?
  • Do I have the time every year in order to control the roots? Are you willing to put more maintenance work in? No – Go for clumping species. Yes – look at both types and decides from appearance and hardiness.
  • Will you plant your bamboo in full sun, half shade, or full shade? How many hours of sun will you expect at the specific spot?
  • Is the spot where you’re going to plant the bamboo windy?
  • Are you going to plant them in-ground or in planters? Not all varieties like planters. You will also need to water them more.
  • What height would you prefer? Do you want to get privacy from neighboring tall buildings? Or is a regular height enough?
  • Do you want a very dense privacy screen like a hedge?
  • What should your bamboo look like? What colors would fit into your garden design?
  • What is your budget? There are rare varieties that you may want to avoid because it could get pricey.

By the way, don’t be shy with your pick. If you cannot settle for one plant, pick 2 similar plants that have the same needs.

Any questions left unanswered? Then leave us a comment!
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Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo

We are James and Natalie – newly-weds & nature lovers!

We want to give you the best information possible on bamboo. Get inspired to grow bamboo or to switch to natural bamboo products!

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