Don't shy away from bamboo simply because of the few bad things you have heard about it. There are actually two types of bamboo, clumping and running, which describes how the roots spread. Clumping varieties have all of the benefits with none of the drawbacks of the running types.
1. Doesn't Spread
Bamboo is actively avoided by many homeowners because of a fear of it taking over the yard. Although running bamboo varieties can become quite invasive, clumping types don't spread quickly or very far. If you want the beauty and screening capabilities of bamboo but don't want to deal with constantly managing it, then opt for a clumping variety.
2. Container Suitability
Do you want bamboo but have nowhere to plant it in the ground? The lower-growing and easily cut back clumping varieties work especially well in large patio planters. Since the roots don't spread quickly, there is no need to be constantly dividing and repotting the bamboo as you would with the running variety. Container-grown clumping bamboo can also be moved around the yard or patio so you can change up the design of your landscaping on a whim.
3. Fast Growing
Bamboo grows very quickly, including the slow-spreading clumping varieties. If you need a privacy screen to shield your patio from nosy neighbors, for example, you can plant clumping bamboo in spring and have the beginnings of a good privacy screen by summer. Further, there usually aren't any municipal restrictions on bamboo height as there can be with fences, so you can plant tall varieties without any need for a special permit.
4. Minimal Maintenance
Compared to other plants that are used for screening, bamboo is very low maintenance. The fallen leaves provide mulch for the plants, so there's not much need to rake. The canes grow straight and true without trellising, and weeds and pests are rarely a problem. Further, you don't have to dig up roots or constantly fight back against clumping bamboo as you would have to with running varieties.
5. Creative Uses
Clumping bamboo can be more than just a part of your landscape. The old bamboo canes can be used in the garden to create trellises, fencing, and decorative items. Bamboo is also a useful craft item, whether you weave baskets or turn the canes into a wind instrument. If you would like an infinitely-producing natural material for garden or home crafts, clumping bamboo is a good option.
Contact a bamboo nursery to find out which clumping varieties are best suited to your climate and needs.