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Welcome to the world of bamboo! This fast-growing, renewable building material offers unparalleled strength and a graceful form, not only for supporting plants but also for creating decorative structures.
Below you'll find directions for constructing several traditional Japanese garden structures. These designs typically use three or four different sizes of bamboo. Very few tools are required, and with a little practice in knot-tying, you will be able to customize fence and trellis designs to suit your own garden.
This knot is a variation on a standard looped square knot. While any tight knot will hold most bamboo joints, this style of knot gives a neat, finished appearance and is the standard in most Japanese construction.
In most cases, hemp twine or waxed lashing cord will make snug, weather-tight joints.
Significant joints may need to be reinforced with slender nails or wrapped with fine wire.
This low fence design is popular in the Kansei region of Japan, where it is often used as a property border fence. Sometimes, this type of fence is mounted on an existing stone wall.
This typically 3-foot-high fence panel that can be easily varied in height, length or in the number of canes used.
This basic fence design is the most popular form in Japanese landscape architecture and has been used since ancient times. Its simple, open lines blend well with any landscape.
The fence shown here is constructed for maximum durability using naturally rot-resistant wood posts (such as cedar) into which bamboo crosspieces are inserted and vertical canes are then tied on.
Yotsume design variations
The same techniques used in fence construction apply to the design and construction of trellis pieces to support climbing plants. For longer-lasting trellises, minimize contact between the soil and bamboo, and store them in a protected location during the winter.
This trellis design uses three widths of bamboo in a door-style frame. The three long vertical posts are 1½" dia. canes, interior verticals and upper horizontal pieces are ¾" dia. canes and the panel at the bottom is made with pairs of thinner 3' canes (No. 2 Bamboo).
For a lighter, taller trellis, use 7-foot canes. Create a paravent, or fan-like screen, by placing two freestanding trellises together at an angle. Or string together several smaller panels as an informal fence.
Trim all edges close to the outside posts. This design can be mounted on hardwood posts for use as a gate or door.
Bamboo towers, teepees or tripods can be used to create everything from tomato trellises to arbors for annual climbing vines. Here are some ideas:
Make a tower: Form a circle of three to six bamboo poles in the garden, and tilt the ends into the center. Wrap the ends with strong twine to secure the ends together. Then, attach twine to create a web for climbing plants.
Connect towers: Positioning a horizontal bamboo pole between them at the top and bottom. Attach twine to these horizontals to create a web for climbing plants.
Last updated: 10/30/19
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