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How to Frugally Build a Bamboo Garden Trellis

Updated on April 15, 2014

Reasons for This Article

The vines are taking over and winning the battle!

Sad, but true. My wife and I have an affinity for plants that spread. We love berry bushes. We love tomatoes. We love cucumbers and grapes and wisteria. Heck, if it has a vine we have a home for it….

But…..

As every gardener knows, at some point in time we have to gain control of our garden or the darned plants will take over the entire property.

Last year we planted gourds for the first time and oh my goodness….the little devils became what can only be described as an invasive species.

One thing I know for certain is that we are not going to give up on our vines, so the only logical solution is to find a way to control them, and that is my introduction to the subject of bamboo trellises.

Bamboo is the ultimate in versatility as a building material, and unlike so many other materials you can buy at the gardening center, bamboo is renewable. It is lightweight. It is flexible, and it is strong.

And with proper care, bamboo can last five to ten years and look great in just about any gardening scheme you have.

Oh yes, I love bamboo!

Sturdy and reliable
Sturdy and reliable | Source

Where to Find Bamboo

Of course you can go to a nursery or big box store like Home Depot and buy some bamboo, but for any frugal gardener that is akin to buying a pre-built planter…it just isn’t done.

We were recently out running errands when we came across a homeowner who was giving bamboo away. We loaded up our car with over fifty bamboo poles, all at least six feet in length….and they were free.

Walk around your neighborhood and chances are good that you have a neighbor with bamboo in their yard. Ask them if you can have some the next time they prune. Or ask for some cuttings and grow your own supply of bamboo poles. Bamboo grows like a weed….a twenty foot vertical weed….and it will grow that much during one summer from a small cutting.

Supplies Needed for a Bamboo Trellis

Chances are good that once you find some bamboo that you have everything you need already to make a great trellis. Here is what we need when we make our trellises:

  • Several canes of bamboo
  • Cord or twine for tying
  • Hand saw
  • Ruler or tape measure

Don’t buy anything! That is the first rule to follow if you want to be a frugal gardener. However, if you don’t have any twine, you can pick some up for about $2.50 for 100 feet, more than enough for these projects.

Please note that you do not need nails or screws. Bamboo does not handle nails well at all. We will simply be tying all pieces together. Easy Peasy my friends!

Create a Design That Works for You

When we are discussing trellises, one size does not fit all. That’s the problem with trellises that you buy at a store. They are all standard sizes, and most yards that I have seen need abnormal and not standard. So draw a design that works for you. Below I will explain how to make a very simple tee-pee design, but you can literally make any size or shape trellis that you can imagine.

Take a look at your needs. Will your future vines be climbing vertically or horizontally? How much space do you need, and how many feet of trellis will you need? Draw a simple design with accurate measurements and then head outside and make your trellis.

Look closely and you can see the notches that hold the twine
Look closely and you can see the notches that hold the twine | Source
This, then, is the top of the tee-pee
This, then, is the top of the tee-pee | Source
The finished product
The finished product | Source

How to Make a Simple Tee-pee Trellis

This is the simplest trellis project that you can imagine and it literally will take you a half hour max to complete it. Follow these steps:

  • Take three bamboo canes and cut to the same length. For ours we use six-foot lengths
  • Make notches about one inch from the end of each cane for the twine to fit into
  • Wrap twine around the end of the first cane
  • Put the second cane next to the first and wrap the same twine around the second, lashing it to the first
  • Put the third cane next to the first two and again, lash them together.
  • Tie off the loose end.
  • Take the three canes and stand them vertically in your garden, and then spread the legs outward to form a tee-pee.
  • Now take twine and wrap it around the tee-pee. Take the first strand and wrap about one foot from the ground. The next strand will go one foot above that, and so on up to the top.
  • Your trellis is completed.

This is a great design for tomatoes, beans, peas and cucumbers. Once those vines grow to be one foot tall, they will grab hold of your twine and willingly do the rest of the work as they climb towards the sun.

A simple box design for smaller plants
A simple box design for smaller plants | Source
A fan design
A fan design | Source

Other Designs Work Well

The picture to the right shows a very simple box design that we use when the plant is young. We will be taking that down since the berry bush is now in need of something bigger, but no problem because we have a lot of bamboo to play with. The small one can obviously be used again, and you can bet we will do just that.

If you plant in rows, try a rectangle design that follows the rows. Cut your bamboo to two foot or three foot lengths for your vertical supports. Then tie long lengths of bamboo horizontally to those vertical supports.

The picture on the right shows another popular trellis design. I call it the “Fan,” and it is quite easy to make following these steps:

  • Cut four or five bamboo canes to the same length but at least five feet.
  • On the end of all the canes, make grooves with a knife or saw so that your twine does not slip when you are tying it.
  • Bring all the ends together and interlace the twine to tie them all
  • Now fan out the tops so they, in fact, resemble a fan.
  • Tie cross supports horizontally every foot or so.
  • And you are done.

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The Battle Shall Be Won

The vines have fired the opening volley but they will not win this war. I have a lot of bamboo and an equal amount of patience. Victory shall be mine!

Go get yourselves some bamboo and have fun. One of the things I like most about it is its versatility. If you can imagine it then you can make it with bamboo.

If you are frugal then give bamboo a try. If you are into the re-using of resources, then give bamboo a try. If you are into self-sufficiency and the natural look, then you really do owe it to yourselves to give it a try. Why pay exorbitant prices for store products when nature has provided for you for free?

Now strap on your helmet, grab your saw, and get out there and teach those vines who is boss!

2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 3 years ago from New York, New York

      My dad works at Lowes and you know I am showing him this article for his spring garden now. Awesome Bill and thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful Tuesday now!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 3 years ago from New York

      Amazing! One suggestion better than the next. Bamboo is a very invasive plant so you probably can find someone willing to give it away and then make those lovely garden additions. If you keep this up Bill you're going to wind up with your own TV show "The Frugal Gardener"!

      Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine. Tell your dad I said hi and have a great Tuesday.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mary, you always make me smile, and that is the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you dear friend and Happy Spring!

    • carlajbehr profile image

      Carla J Behr 3 years ago from NW PA

      Cool!

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

      Bamboo! You are so full of great ideas! I will sure look into this for it could mean so many more planting places. Will be saving this hub, thanks so much!

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 3 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)

      Bill,

      Thanks for publishing this very helpful article. I have two rose bushes which are growing so much I was planning to purchase some stakes for them. They're close enough to each other, a fan trellis will work beautifully.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 3 years ago from Arizona

      You never fail to amaze me with your ingenuity. Finding free bamboo..and creating...Along with your writing talents... Is there a book in your past or future about frugality living well...

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      carljbehr, very cool! Thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Jackie! It really is this simple, and bamboo is everywhere if you are looking for it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Daisy! I think you'll find it really is a very easy project.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Carol, I have too many ideas for the time allowed...but maybe some day my friend. In the meantime...thank you!

    • profile image

      dragonflycolor 3 years ago

      I would love to make an actual fence out of bamboo. That would be amazing in our neck of the woods. Thanks!

    • one2get2no profile image

      Philip Cooper 3 years ago from Olney

      Very informative hub Billy...voted up.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mari, I have seen them, but it takes a heck of a lot of bamboo to do it. :) Thanks for the visit my wild and crazy friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, one2get2no...I appreciate you stopping by.

    • SpaceShanty profile image

      SpaceShanty 3 years ago from United Kingdom

      I have a load of Bamboo canes I was planning on using like this which I had forgotten about until I saw this, thanks!

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 years ago from Northern California, USA

      "Don't buy anything!" Those are words we speak around my household on a regular basis. I like this project.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      SpaceShanty, I am jealous....have fun with them and thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, it is sooooo easy! Give it a try my frugal friend, and as always, thank you!

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      This is great. Bamboo is so plentiful here, too, in the subtropics. I know people who cut their bamboo a couple times a year and are always giving it away. People should try freecycle, you never know. I love gardening-- wish I had the land, but I do make the most of my big screen porch (it's like a jungle of container herbs and veggies out there).

    • jhamann profile image

      Jamie Lee Hamann 3 years ago from Reno NV

      This is awesome. Thank you again for some great instruction! Bill we are building our chicken coop this weekend and I need to find you hub on how to build one for some instruction. I am excited to get started! Jamie

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 3 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Great idea, Billy! Bamboo is sustainable and strong--you don't have to worry about waste and it holds up well in the garden. When I visited Hong Kong years ago, I saw they used bamboo for scaffolding. Pretty cool!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Wiccan, that's one way to keep visitors away...make the porch so dense they can't pass through it. LOL Just a thought.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That is exciting Jamie. I'm not sure how detailed my hub is. We just made it out of pallets and plywood. Nothing fancy but the chickens seem to like it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Lizzy, I didn't know it was THAT strong. Wow! And you went to Hong Kong and didn't visit me??? What's up with that? LOL

    • Rebecca Furtado profile image

      Rebecca Furtado 3 years ago from Anderson, Indiana

      Another great hub. I would have never considered bamboo for a trellis. Shared.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Rebecca! This really is as easy as I have stated here. Hope you give it a try.

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

      This is awesome! My uncle had some large squash seeds from the Philippines which he needed to grow on a trellis such as this. I have heard that cucumbers like to grow up a trellis as well, but growing up I was taught to plant them on the ground.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Crafty, the more I read about cucumbers the more I learn that they do well climbing. We are going to try it this year and see what happens.

      Thank you as always my friend.

    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 3 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      I have come to the conclusion that I want to do more with my yard and garden. This sounds like a great idea! Does bamboo grow in North Dakota?

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 3 years ago

      Your trellises are so attractive, Bill, don’t you just love bamboo! I wish we had somewhere we live. Does bamboo take lots of sunshine? We have bamboo growing along the back fence of a piece of rental property, but it is spindly and doesn’t spread. Could it be too shady there? Would it help to bring some home and plant it in the sun? I would love to make some trellises similar to yours, and as you say, not pay for anything. Thanks for the designs. The video was interesting, too. Voted your great hub up++

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 3 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great idea. My dad used to raise bamboo here in Phoenix, and we put it to good use.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I have one fan desigh bamboo that i've used for sometime, it is wonderful for climbing clematis. I didn't know we could grow bamboo, i thought it only grew in the tropics. I have so many plants and flowers in my yard, i doubt that i will plant anymore, unless of course i get the bug. Thank you for a very useful hub.....

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Denise, I would be amazed if it doesn't. Bamboo is like a weed and it would be interesting to find out about ND. Good luck and thank for the visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      MizB, I do believe bamboo wants full sun. We grow it here and we have a moderate climate, but I think it needs to be in the sun to thrive. Try replanting it....or just take a cutting or two because those roots on established plants can grow quite a ways.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Will, I think the old ideas were the simplest and always the best. Thanks for stopping by.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Ruby. If bamboo grows in Washington then it has a good chance in Illinois.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

      Great idea Bill. I have some bamboo in the garage and will put it aside for the garden. We've had a few nice days lately but we are heading back to the 40's for tomorrow. May even get some wet snow tonight! Have a great week.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 3 years ago from California

      I love, love this idea! When I cut back my grape next winter, I think I will use the vines to build some trellises--

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Bill, it is unbelievable the weather you have had. Good luck and I hope you can put that bamboo to work for you. Thank you and enjoy your week.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      There you go, Audrey! Great idea and established grape vines will work well. Good luck and thank you for visiting.

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

      How innovative, Bill! Oh, how I wished I had known you were going to be in need of bamboo. We had a ton growing in our backyard and it can be a bit invasive, but we had ours under control. Then we put up a fence and had to cut it all down. If I had known, I would have shipped it all to you : ) ... or used it as you have done so here.

      Up and away

      Really love this one,

      Faith Reaper

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Using bamboo as you have done is a great idea, Bill. Thanks for the instructions. I will definitely be on the lookout for bamboo in my neighborhood!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I am sharing this with the aquaponics people I am working with. It fits right in with renewable organic notions. Bamboo is nearly a weed around here. They have to clear in the canyons for fire prevention. Maybe we "volunteer to help carry it away" ;-)

    • Nadine May profile image

      Nadine May 3 years ago from Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

      Lovely post on your gardening adventures BIlly. We have used bamboo for many projects inside our home as well as outside, but growing it ourselves that can be invasive so we have been told, unless you have a big property.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Using bamboo is a great idea and I like your helpful suggestions in the garden.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, Faith, thanks for thinking of me belatedly. :) I wish we had a ton of it here in our backyard. Oh well, the search continues.

      Have a great day my friend and blessings to you always

      bill

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fantastic, Alicia! Thanks so much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for sharing, Eric! We don't have that much here but it isn't that hard to find, either. Have a great day, buddy.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Very true, Nadine! It can take over a property. That's why I prefer to let someone else grow it and then give it to me. :) Thank you my friend.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you very much, DDE!

    • rajan jolly profile image

      Rajan Singh Jolly 3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

      Bill, thanks for another useful tutorial and now I just need to look around for some bamboo that I can get for free.

      Have a great day!

    • dis-cover profile image

      Nikolic Predrag 3 years ago from Serbia, Belgrade

      Thank you Bill for the very helpful suggestions. Unfortunately, we do not have bamboo in Serbia, but I'm sure this article will be very helpful to the others, where bamboo is available. Voted up!

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      Another brilliant hub on frugal DIY ;a subject which I love and find so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing another great hub with us on here.

      Take care billy my friend and enjoy your day.

      Eddy.

    • bravewarrior profile image

      Shauna L Bowling 3 years ago from Central Florida

      Your bamboo trellises are quite attractive, Bill. I didn't know that bamboo grows in Washington. It certainly grows in my yard! I'm forever digging up bamboo that wants to grow next to my house or around the a/c unit. It has a mind of it's own if you don't keep it in check.

      For any of your readers who live in Central Florida, I have access to tons of bamboo. Look me up if you want some.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Rajan, you are very welcome my friend. Thank you for taking the time to visit.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      dis-cover, thank you for stopping by even though it does not apply to you. I appreciate it.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Eddy, you are very welcome. You know how much I appreciate you, right? Well, I do.

      love from Olympia

      billy

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love it, Sha! We have our own little Craigslist here. LOL

    • Monis Mas profile image

      Aga 3 years ago

      What a great tutorial, and a perfect timing. Passing it on my father in law :-)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Monis! It's always nice to see you here.

    • Suzanne Day profile image

      Suzanne Day 3 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

      Wow! This looks like a great way to get a cheap trellis for the garden. Voted up and useful!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It really is, Suzanne. I am the Master of Cheap. LOL Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      You're inspiring me with ideas for bamboo supports for tomatoes and string beans.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Besides being every writer's guide and tutor, this hub displays another great talent of yours and a good tutorial for everyone.

      Thanks for sharing this creative hub with instructions!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Fantastic, Flourish, and I think bamboo looks much better than those metal supports you get at the store. Good luck if you try this and thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome, Chitrangada, and thank you for the kind words.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Great hub and great suggestions. I need to try this with my tomatoes this year. I used some metal cages last year but they didn't work very well. :(

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks Theresa! I think you will be pleased with the results.

    • Glimmer Twin Fan profile image

      Glimmer Twin Fan 3 years ago

      Love this one Bill! From the top photo it looks like your garden is getting bigger. I'm going to try out the fan trellis since I need something for my clematis plant. Shared around!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Good luck with it, Glimmer. If I can build one then anyone can, and I mean that honestly. :) Thanks as always for being here.

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      Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 3 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

      This article is definitely a great help, Billy. Thanks for opening my eyes to the wonderful bamboos around me. Wow! I am going after them.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hello, Maria! So nice to hear from you. You should have no problem finding bamboo where you live. Best wishes my friend.

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      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      We have plenty of bamboo available here but no space for a garden. I am filing this away for when we do have that plot of land to grow our own food. Some day!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Do that, Dianna! Bamboo is so versatile and easy to use.

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      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      Bamboo is great! Flooring and cutting boards are manufactured from it, as it is a hardwood. It grows in no time at all, so it is very effective in being green, which it is, anyway.(grin)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Deb, that's the beauty of it...you never run out of it! A constant supply at your disposal.

      Thanks as always, Deb!

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      Thankyou Bill for this clearly written and inspiring article. I like to think of myself as frugal and using bamboo to build trellises also appeals to my creative urge at this time of year without off-putting anxiety around power tools, fussy plañning calculations, and unfamiliar materials. Love it! Sharing widely. -Cynthia

    • Besarien profile image

      Besarien 2 years ago

      We have a neighbor three houses down overrun with bamboo. She is a very nice lady too who lets us harvest it for free, I have done a number of craft projects with it and decorations for a backyard luau a couple of years ago but have never thought to use it to prop up my tomatoes. I feel so silly now! Thanks for showing me the way of the frugal gardener, Billy!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Cynthia! Believe it or not, I received my first power tool for Christmas last year. You might say I'm a bit old-fashioned. :)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 2 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Besarien, nothing to feel silly about. Happens all the time to me, driving by, I see something, and it looks so obvious....but most good ideas are fairly obvious and maybe too simple for us to think of. :) Thank you for stopping by.

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