Bamboo mulch in a garden with gardening tools

How To Use Bamboo As Mulch: A Simple Guide

I stumbled upon the idea of using bamboo mulch for my garden some years back. At that point, my bamboo plants were very young, though. Now, I started trimming my plants and snipping bamboo leaves to use them as mulch. 

This was a tedious task but in the end, it’s worth it. Bamboo makes a great mulch! I hardly found weeds in the area where I used bamboo mulch. Plus, I didn’t have to worry too much about watering my plants as bamboo mulch holds moisture well. 

Since then, I’ve always used bamboo mulch. How about you? Do you trim your bamboo plant and throw away the leaves? I understand you don’t know the benefits of bamboo or how to use it as mulch. I’ll teach you here, keep reading!

Can you mulch with shredded bamboo? 

Yes, you can! As much as this may sound new to you. It’s the best thing you can do for your plants. As long as you have bamboo plants around that are shedding leaves, you have a continuous supply of fertilizer for your mulch. 

And guess what? You could use almost all the parts of bamboo for mulching or composting. You’ll only have to shred the bamboo and use them.

What makes bamboo mulch different from regular mulch?

First, let’s talk about mulch in general. Mulch is used on plants in gardens to retain moisture and nutrients. It also acts as a weed barrier. This protects the soil and roots of plants in extreme climates. Plus, the mulch also fertilizes the soil as it decomposes. 

Mulches are usually made of organic material such as woodchip, manure, and leaves. These are biodegradable materials. This means that they decompose into the soil over time and have to be replaced.  

Mulch acts as a slow-release fertilizer that will improve your soil’s fertility and organic content.

You probably need to know why you should use bamboo mulch, you want to know what’s special about it. Bamboo mulch is going to help you and your plants. 

It’ll help you to save time and money while keeping your plants healthy. Let’s quickly examine a few benefits of bamboo mulch below.

Celery plant covered with mulch
Bamboo mulch in the garden

5 amazing benefits of bamboo mulch – What’s good about bamboo mulch?

It’s true that all mulches have got useful nutrients in them, but bamboo mulch is especially known for its richness in silica. Bamboo leaves contain high levels of silica. This nutrient provides many benefits to a wide variety of plants. 

First, it gives off an alkalizing effect on the soil. This means that the silica can reduce the heavy metal concentration on the soil. This is a good thing since it’ll stimulate better nutrient absorption for your plants. 

Also, silica infusion will help your plants grow better. If you are using bamboo mulch for growing plants, you can add shredded bamboo leaves continuously.

Silica improves the photosynthesis and chlorophyll content of plants. It also increases output and crop quality as well as plants’ resistance to drought. Plus, it boosts the tolerance of plants to salt and heavy metals.

Now you should realize that the silica content has a lot of benefits to offer your plants.

But that’s not all bamboo mulch does, below I’ll be highlighting 5 other advantages of bamboo mulch.

It’s chemical-free

Instead of spraying chemical fertilizers and other toxic substances on your soil, you can use bamboo leaves instead. You just need to shred the leaves and the stems before mixing them into your soil. This way, you don’t have to worry when your pets dig through your mulch.

A sustainable source of fertilizer

Bamboo mulch is a great alternative to chemical fertilizers. It’s a natural, sustainable, and eco-friendly option. You’ll always get mulch as long as you have bamboo plants closeby. And you know for sure that bamboo plants are abundant.

It’s permeable

Bamboo mulch is permeable, the compounds of bamboo allow for water penetration to the roots of the plant. And this would help you to water your plants easily and more effectively.

Plus, you won’t have to face the sad experience of mulch floating during rainy seasons as bamboo leaves do not float. So, they are a great choice for sloping gardens. 

It provides a low nitrogen drawdown

Let me explain what I mean by nitrogen drawdown, it refers to the nutrient requirement of fungi and bacteria to decompose matter in your mulch. These organisms need nitrogen to decompose matter. 

A high nitrogen drawdown is not good for your plant. When more nitrogen is being 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.

Woody mulch materials like wood chips, sawdust, and barks have high nitrogen drawdown. This is not the case with bamboo, bamboo has a very low nitrogen drawdown. Which reduces the need for additional fertilizing. 

Also, it’ll help increase worm activity underneath the mulch. And you know the wonders of the worms work! 

It saves money!

Bamboo mulch helps you save the money you would have spent on purchasing fertilizers. You can simply trim it out of your garden or a neighbor’s yard. And you know that most fertilizers contain harmful chemicals. 

Besides, with bamboo mulch, you don’t have to worry much about weeds and watering. This is where saving your time comes into play!

How to use bamboo as mulch

The fastest way to use bamboo mulch is by purchasing already made ones. But if you own a bamboo grove or you have a bamboo forest closeby, you can make your own with the few steps which I’ll explain below.

I’ve got to mention this: there are several bamboo parts you can use as mulch. The stalks, leaves, roots, and shoots can be used for mulch. 

We’ll advise you to go for the leaves and stalks, they are much easier to use. But I’ll talk about all the bamboo parts here, just in case you want to use all of them. 

A simple guide to make your own bamboo mulch

These are simple procedures that you can follow to make your own bamboo mulch.

Empty wheelbarrow next to a pile of mulch, a fence and a broom
Bamboo mulch

Step 1: Collect the bamboo leaves, stalks, and shoots

Obviously, you have to collect the materials first. Both fresh and dry leaves are good. When you do your regular maintenance trimming, you may have enough of it.

Note: If you intend to add bamboo roots to the mulch, ensure you kill the rhizomes first. Why? 

The rhizomes contain axillary buds that’ll cause new bamboo shoots to grow. This is the reason some gardeners end up finding a growing bamboo shoot in the mulch.

So, how do I kill the rhizomes? This is simple – shredding the roots. This is why I emphasized on shredding the bamboo parts formally. Proper shredding of the bamboo roots will kill the rhizomes and prevent the bamboo from springing back. 

And the best thing is that bamboo requires a large rhizome to grow. So, once you’ve shredded the parts, it’s unlikely that a bamboo shoot will grow. Another thing to do to prevent the bamboo from sprouting is allowing the mulch to dry well before using them.

Step 2: Shred the bamboo parts

It’s possible to simply add the bamboo parts to your soil like that, but it’s much better if you shred them or simply purchase pre-shredded bamboo mulch. 

You can get this done without any special equipment, but you’ve got to be prepared cause it’ll take your time and energy. But this could be pretty cool if you’ve got lots of free time and you don’t need much mulch. 

Manually cutting bamboo in small pieces

If you don’t have access to any special shredder, you can simply trim off some branches with foliage by using a pair of scissors. Now start snipping your bamboo leaves and stems into about an-inch size. You can stop once you’ve got enough mulch material. Leave the culms out since you can’t shred them with a pair of scissors.

What if I’ve got a chipping machine? 

Yeah, pretty cool! But first, ensure it can handle bamboo. Bamboo is a strong material and you don’t want to damage your machine. Regular chipping and shredding machines are built to deal with waste like grass clippings, leaves, twigs, but not bamboo.

Don’t try to use it if you’re not sure, you might just end up damaging your machine. You need a robust and large shredder if you want to input the bamboo culms.

There could also be a few chippers in the market that can handle bamboo, you could sort out your options if you intend to use one.

What chipping machine can handle bamboo?

If you want to buy your own equipment, you should check out these products:

Renting the equipment

If you produce your own mulch once a year, perhaps after maintaining your bamboo, you can also rent a machine for a day or weekend. This way you don’t have a huge machine taking up your space. Unless you make mulch more often, owning this type of equipment may not make sense.

Step 3: Add your shredded bamboo to the soil

There’s no hard or fast rule about the thickness of the mulch you should apply. But the fact is this: mulch should be thicker in more extreme weather conditions. 

This is because the mulch works as a blanket for the soil. It’ll help to prevent the soil from drought in hot weather and protects the soil from freezing in a case of extreme cold.

It’ll be nice to adjust the thickness of your mulch according to your climate and landscape. Now, arrange a 2 to 3-inch (5.08 to 7.62 cm) deep layer of shredded bamboo around your flower bed. Try as much as possible not to push the mulch against the stalks, leave a little space! 

For trees, a 2 to 6-inch (5.08 to 15.24 cm) layer of bamboo mulch is okay, but this would depend on how big the trees are. Don’t add mulch to about 2 inches around the trunks of the trees. 

You can mix the shredded bamboo into the soil. This would prevent your pets from eating them up.

Step 4: What can I do with the excess bamboo mulch left?

If you still have some shredded bamboo left, fill in the wet areas of your garden with a few inches. This would help to form a moisture barrier in your garden as the bamboo fibers bind together.

Plus, you can use them to pave line walkways if you haven’t done that with any other material. This is a budget-friendly and beautiful option that’ll enhance your landscape.  Just a layer of bamboo mulch would do the trick.

Step 5: Replenish the mulched areas as the bamboo decomposes

With time the bamboo in mulched areas will decompose. At this point, all you need to do is to add another layer on top of the previous one. Don’t remove it, just add more.

Garden setting with mulch and tools and the text: Bamboo Mulch - A Simple Guide

How long does it take for bamboo leaves to decompose?

We’ve mentioned that bamboo takes a long period of time to decompose, but it’s normal to know how long. Now, bamboo leaves are natural fertilizers that decompose slowly to give a slow-release fertilizer. And as such, bamboo leaves take up to a year from the time it’s dropped to the soil to fully decompose. Amazing right?

I know you might have been wondering how bamboo plants survive in the wild without mulch or fertilizers. This is the secret! These plants feed off their own fallen leaves.

Using bamboo as mulch is an organic and sustainable way of keeping your plants healthy. It’s easy to get the leaves or stems, shred them, and there you have your mulch ready for use.

Have you tried using bamboo for mulch before? How did it turn out? Share your experience in the comment section!
Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo
About the Author: James Zimmerman


  • Hi there, thanks for your tips above. What I can’t work out is whether its important to leave bamboo shoots, stalks and leaves to dry out BEFORE shredding, or if you can shred them when they are green (much easier for the shredder) and then let them dry before using them as mulch, or if you can just cut a piece down, shred it, and put it straight onto the garden as mulch. I’ve done lots of searches but cant find this clearly explained! Thanks

    • Hi Erin, I would shred it when it’s green, let it dry a bit, and then spread it in the garden. You are correct that it’ll be easier for the machine to shred it when it’s not dry yet.

  • No but I’m about. If you are interested I’ll send fotos 12 variety and over 150 15 foot diameter . Mostly down from the 2018 volcanoes big island. Never could come up with the use of fallen bamboo. It’s an extreme mess

  • Hi there i have clumping bamboo tree. Can i just usw the dried leaves as mulch without shredding them? Thanks


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