Most Americans’ perceive bamboo as hip new flooring or a giant panda snack at the National Zoo, but bamboo is actually a terrific, renewable grass that can be used in all kinds of eco-friendly savvy ways you can add to your home beauty, from an iPad cover, to bamboo shades, or dozens of other tech gadgets. And according to Tjerk Reijenga in the Dutch journal “Bear Architectun,” Asians, and South Americans are most familiar with bamboo construction, and use it in houses, flooring, bridges, fences, and even food (for humans, as well as pandas).

“Probably one of the first large applications was during the World Fair in Hanover, Germany in 2000,” Reijenga wrote. “This construction was a good example of bamboo as a building material and it’s possibilities.”

Man and Woman Born out of Bamboo Plant

A Filipino legend says the first man and woman came from a bamboo plant, discovered by a giant bird. God (Bathala) created the world and was bored, so he sent out a giant bird to survey the earth. The bird found a huge bamboo and heard a noise from within. The bird, than, split the bamboo and out came a man, whose name was Malakas- meaning strong.

Malakas’ mate, Maganda (which means beautiful), was freed from the plant by the bird. After a brief flight around the world on the bird’s back, the couple settled down near a beautiful lake with millions of children who populated the world.

From Pterodactyl and Tea Ceremony

Throughout history, the Japanese are probably most creative at using bamboo. Today bamboo is a very popular fence-making material, modeled after stylish Japanese gardens and courtyard trends. In the book “Bamboo Fences” published by Princeton Architectural Press, author Isao Yoshikawa discuss how a traditional fence has morphed into an art form.

“The wide range of fence designs has its origin partly in the full development of the tea ceremony during the sixteenth century, when elegant bamboo fences became important elements of tea ceremony gardens,” reported Yoshikawa.

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Folks in New England know about good fences and Robert Frosts’ iconic poem “The Mending Wall” contains the line, “Good fences make good neighbors.” offers easy instructions on building eco-friendly bamboo fence- whether for your own backyard jungle or tea garden. Here are some highlights:


1. Select sturdy posts; the website recommends #8 bamboo canes (1 1/2” in diameter) for fence rails. The upright canes should be narrower, possibly #4 or #6 bamboo, ¾” in around. You should order your posts fifty percent longer than what you want visible to ensure stability of the fence.

2. Traditional bamboo fences are lashed together. While you can use nails or wire for added stability- order lashing materials. Any dark colored twine will resist the elements, suggests dark colors to add the Japanese authenticity to the fence.

3. Posthole diggers can be fun. This is where we get serious about fence building. Check out the excellent specifics so you don’t end up hurting yourself or antagonizing good neighbors. This fence can be a work of art form, but also needs to function.

4. Stain or go au natural. You can stain the bamboo for a more authentic shade- left untreated and the fence will fade to a gray coloring.