To determine how close to plant - divide your budget by your patience...
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. If your location is poor you may need to supplement with fertilizer and mulch for your bamboo to reach its full potential. 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|
|Immediate||Mixed D size and C size plants, planted 2 feet apart in 2 rows checkerboard pattern|
|2 growing seasons||D size plants, planted 2 feet apart|
|3 growing seasons||D size plants, planted 6 feet apart|
|4 growing seasons||C size plants, planted 15 feet apart|
|5 growing seasons||C size plants, planted 30 feet apart|
|15 growing seasons||A, B, C, or D size plants, planted 60 feet apart|
|Poles and Shoots|
|For commercial pole and shoot production, plant:||
220 plants per acre on a 10x10 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 isle 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 February.
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 flowered 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.