The Benefits of Using Bamboo Leaves as Mulch

Did you just trim your bamboo tree and don’t know what to do with the leaves? Well, you can actually use bamboo leaves as mulch. It’s a free, organic, and excellent way to boost the health of your garden soil. In this post, we will discuss the benefits of using bamboo leaves on your mulch, how to compost it, and other essential details.

Benefits of bamboo leaves as mulch

Bamboo leaves are rich in various compounds that help nourish the soil. Although not a conventional choice for many, bamboo leaves make an excellent choice for your mulch.

-Chemical-free

Instead of spraying chemical fertilizers and other toxic substances to your soil, you can use bamboo leaves instead. You just need to shred the leaves and the stems before mixing it to your soil. This way, you won’t have to worry about your pets digging through your mulch and chewing things.

-A sustainable source of fertilizer

If you don’t have the money to purchase commercial fertilizers, you can use bamboo leaves instead. It’s a very sustainable and eco-friendly choice. As long as your bamboo trees are shedding leaves, you have a continuous supply of fertilizer for your mulch.

Aside from bamboo leaves, you can also use the stems and shredded shoots. Almost all parts of bamboo can be used for composting or mulching.

-Silica to nourish the soil

Bamboo leaves contain high levels of silica, the highest you can find in most plant sources. Studies found that increased silica content on the soil gives off an alkalizing effect. This means that the silica can reduce the heavy metal concentration on the soil. This is a good thing since it promotes better nutrient absorption for the plants.

Also, silica infusion is very necessary as your plant grows. If you happen to use your mulch soil for growing plants, you can add shredded bamboo leaves continuously. Still, don’t overdo it as anything that’s too much is bad.

-Very permeable

Mulch with bamboo as fertilizer is very permeable to rain and hose water. This makes watering easier and more effective. The compounds on bamboo leaves allow the water to penetrate to the roots of the plant.

The best part here is that mulches with bamboo leave will not float away during the rainy season. This is why it’s a great choice for homes with sloping gardens. Also, this mulch will last long, even if you don’t add more bamboo for the next few months. The bamboo leaves will continue decomposing, thus giving your plants a continuous supply of nutrients and silica.

-Low nitrogen drawdown

Nitrogen drawdown refers to the nutrient requirement of fungi and bacteria to decompose matter in your mulch. These organisms only need one nutrient to do it: nitrogen. And when there’s a high nitrogen drawdown, more nitrogen will be sucked out of the soil. This will make your soil unhealthy and in need of more fertilizer to sustain the decomposition process of the organisms.

A high nitrogen drawdown is very evident in woody mulch materials like woodchips, sawdust, and barks.

This will not be the case if you use bamboo leaves as mulch. Bamboo has a very low nitrogen drawdown, so there’s minimal need to add fertilizer. Also, mulch with bamboo is observed to have better worm activity as compared to other options.

-Save money!

Bamboo leaves are money-saving options for your mulch. You can trim it out of your garden if you have the tree as well. If not, you can actually ask for the leaves for free to a neighbor’s who’s disposing of the leaves. This way, you don’t have to shell out money to buy fertilizers that are laced with various chemicals.

Aside from that, you will save your garden from potential toxins. If you have a pet that loves exploring your garden, artificial fertilizers are no-nos. Besides, you’ll get to save more by using bamboo and a little patience.


Some disadvantages

Although bamboo leaves are great fertilizers for your mulch, you have to careful since some species tend to have allelopathic characteristics. Allelopathy happens when a plant leaches the soil to prevent the growth of neighboring plants.

This chemical inhibition will cause toxic effects to the nearby plants, thus poor nutrient uptake. Some of the notorious trees with allelopathic characteristics are Black Walnut, Pea, Sorghum, and more.


Which parts of the bamboo can you use?

When it comes to mulch, the bamboo stems and leaves are widely used. It’s easier to shred, and the soft characteristic makes it faster to break down. Bamboo chips can be used, too, but it will take years to fully decomposed, which may not be ideal for mulches.

We recommend shredding leaves and stems instead.


How to compost bamboo leaves

Using bamboo leaves as mulch is pretty easy. It’s a very straightforward process that you can do at home on your own. The following are some of the steps you can do:

Step 1. Gather the leaves

The first step is to gather some leaves. Dry and fresh leaves will do for this purpose. There’s no need to cut the stem off since you can add it to the compost as well.

Step 2. Shred it.

Once you have enough leaves, it’s time to shred it. Sure, you can dump the whole leaves on the compost, but it would be much easier to use if you shred it to pieces.

You can use a typical chipper for this. If you don’t have a chipper, you can snip the leaves to pieces using a pair of garden scissors.

Step 3. Add it on your mulch

Next, add it to your compost or mulch. Just sprinkle it all over.

Step 4. Rake it

After that, rake the bamboo leaves to the soil. This way, the shredded bamboo leaves will mix to the soil properly. You can also add the bamboo leaves by hand, but make sure that you wear a pair of gloves.

Step 5. Add some water

Once you have the leaves mixed with the soil or compost, water it lightly. There’s no need to douse a whole drum. A little moisture is enough to trigger decomposition.

Step 6. Let it decompose

Leave the compost or mulch for weeks to let the bamboo leaves decompose. You can add this to your plants once the bamboo leaves have started to wilt and break down.


How to prevent the bamboo from springing back

If you happen to add bamboo roots to the mulch, you have to make sure that you kill the rhizomes first. The rhizomes contain auxiliary buds that will trigger the growth of new bamboo shoots. If you add rhizomes on your mulch, you’ll be surprised with a growing shoot on top of it.

The key here is to shred the bamboo parts in a chipper. Usually, this will kill the rhizomes and prevent the bamboo from springing back.

The good thing, though, is that bamboo requires a larger rhizome size to grow back. Once you’ve put everything through the chipper, it’s unlikely that a shoot will grow. 


Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can bamboo leaves and stems go through a chipper?

A: Yes, but make sure that you use a sturdy chipper as bamboo has durable fibers that can be difficult to shred. But with only the leaves and stems on, there shouldn’t be any problem on a regular chipper.

Q: Will bamboo deplete the soil?

A: No, it’s actually the other way around. If used as mulch, bamboo leaves will nourish your garden soil and prevent nitrogen loss. It also promotes good worm activity to boost plant growth.

Q: How long does it take for bamboo leaves to decompose?

A: Bamboo leaves are natural fertilizers that decompose slowly to give the soil a continuous and slow-release fertilizer. By the time it dropped to the soil, the unshredded bamboo leaf may take up to a year to fully decompose. This explains why the bamboo tree can thrive in the wild without additional fertilizer. It feeds off its own fallen leaves.

Q: Can you compost bamboo leaves?

A: Yes! Bamboo leaves are actually great materials for compost. It rakes nicely on mulch beds and ideal for narrow pathways and small gardens. The leaves clump tightly, so it’s not a slipping hazard and stays in place. It’s also easy to add on your mulch, unlike other wood.

Q: Do bamboo leaves make excellent mulch?

A: Yes! The leaves of bamboo produce nutrients that can be recycled. Some of these include silica and nitrogen that boosts the health of your mulch. While the bamboo leaves decompose, it releases nutrients that will sustain the health of your plants.


Final words

Using bamboo leaves as mulch is an organic and sustainable way of keeping your garden healthy. You can acquire the leaves from a nearby tree. Just shred it to pieces, and it’s ready to be used on your compost or mulch.

Have you tried using bamboo leaves on your mulch before? How did it go? Share your experience with us in the comment section below!