Seattle's boom in high density housing has increased the need for privacy screening. Unfortunately, the city doesn't allow fences to be taller than 6 feet - which is not very useful next to a 3-story building. In the past, this problem could be solved by planting trees and shrubs to create a living wall. But new zoning laws have shrunk the space available for planting to the barest minimum, and few plants can thrive or grow tall enough to provide privacy in the narrow spaces between modern buildings.
Except for bamboo.
Bamboo can get as tall as 20' - 25' and can be squeezed into a planting strip barely 3' wide. It is relatively low maintenance. And most varieties prefer a part-shade location, which is perfect for a plant that sits in the shadow of a tall building for some portion of the day.
The other advantage is that there are many varieties of bamboo, offering different leaf textures and variations in canes that range from striping, to multi-colors, to leopard spots, to "root thorns." We recently added some new cultivars at the nursery that you might find interesting. Follow the links to find photos and information about these unusual cultivars.
Fargesia murielae - Umbrella Bamboo
Fargesia juizhaigou - Red Dragon Bamboo
Fargesia nitida - Blue Fountain Bamboo
Borinda angustissima - Narrow Leaved Clumping Bamboo
Chimonobambusa quadrangularis 'Suow' - Golden Square Stem Bamboo
We know that bamboo gets a bad rap because it can be invasive. However, barriers are very effective when installed properly. Keep in mind, too, that not all bamboos run. Some are clumpers that stay within bounds. A good source for information on how to grow and maintain bamboo is on the Bamboo Garden website.