How to Use Coffee Grounds for Gardening

Have you ever tried using coffee grounds for plants? Learn how to use coffee grounds in the garden, potted plants, as compost and as fertilizer.

Coffee grounds in bag

Why throw away your used coffee grounds when you can repurpose them as a natural fertilizer or compost for your plants? Using coffee grounds as fertilizer is an eco-friendly and cost-effective way to provide nutrition for your garden.

Used Coffee Grounds, Not Fresh

It’s important to note that we’re talking strictly about used coffee grounds here. Fresh coffee grounds add way too much acid to soil. Being brewed makes them just right for gardening.

So use your fresh coffee grounds to make coffee, and save only the used coffee grounds for use in the garden.

Why Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Coffee grounds are a versatile and affordable fertilizer option that can provide numerous benefits to your plants and garden. The grounds contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – vital nutrients that plants need for growth and development.

And they can improve soil structure by adding organic matter, which increases moisture retention and aeration. 

Using coffee grounds as fertilizer is also an eco-friendly option. Instead of throwing away used coffee grounds, you can repurpose them in your garden, reducing waste and helping the environment.

Moreover, coffee shops often have large amounts of used coffee grounds that they will set aside for you to come pick up, making it easy for you to get your hands on this excellent natural fertilizer.

Here’s a bucket and the big bag of coffee grounds I got from a major coffee chain. They generate many of these big bags every day, and as long as you come when arranged, they are thrilled to give you all they have.

Big bags of coffee grounds from a coffee shop

How to Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

In the Garden

Using coffee grounds as fertilizer is a simple and economical way to provide your plants with essential nutrients. But how exactly do you use coffee grounds in the garden?

First, start by mixing the coffee grounds directly into the soil around your plants. To do this, add a thin layer of used coffee grounds around the base of each plant, then lightly work the ground into the soil with a garden fork or cultivator.

Be sure not to add too much at once, as too many coffee grounds can cause an imbalance of nutrients in the soil.

Another option is to create a “coffee compost” mixture by combining equal parts used coffee grounds and leaves or other organic materials. Simply layer these materials in a compost bin or heap along with other household food waste, grass clippings, and garden debris.

Over time, this mixture will break down and create a nutrient-rich compost that can be used to feed your plants.

In Potted Plants

Sprinkle the grounds around the top of the soil and either water them or work them gently into the soil. Don’t use too much, because it’s easier for the grounds to overwhelm the plant in a pot than in a garden.

How to Compost with Coffee Grounds

If you’re an avid coffee drinker, you’re likely generating a significant amount of coffee grounds each week. Instead of throwing them away, why not put them to good use as compost for your plants? 

First, add an equal amount of brown materials like dried leaves or wood chips to balance the nitrogen-rich coffee grounds. Mix the grounds with other organic matter like vegetable scraps and yard waste.

The compost pile should be maintained at a temperature between 135 and 160 degrees Fahrenheit in order for breakdown to occur efficiently. Stir the pile once every few weeks to ensure proper decomposition.

Bonus points if you use paper coffee filters that can be composted. Instead of emptying them, just dump the filter and contents into your composting bin.

Top Tips for Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Using coffee grounds as fertilizer is a great way to give your plants and garden a nutrient boost. Here are some top tips to keep in mind:

• Avoid using too much coffee grounds at once. While they may be tempting to add in large quantities, too much can actually harm your plants by changing the pH levels of the soil too quickly.

• Spread coffee grounds evenly around your plants, rather than dumping them all in one spot. This helps ensure that the nutrients are distributed evenly and prevents clumping.

• Mix coffee grounds with other organic matter, such as leaves or grass clippings, when adding them to compost. This creates a more balanced fertilizer and helps prevent any potential pH imbalances in the soil.

• Try using coffee grounds on specific plants that are known to thrive on them, such as blueberries, roses, or hydrangeas. These plants have an acidic soil preference and can benefit greatly from the nutrient-rich properties of coffee grounds.

Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds in Compost

Using coffee grounds in your compost pile can be a great way to improve your garden soil. Coffee grounds are considered “green” compost material, meaning they are high in nitrogen.

When combined with “brown” compost material, like leaves or wood chips, they create a balanced blend that is perfect for nourishing plants. Over time, the grounds will decompose into rich soil that is perfect for planting. Plus, using coffee grounds in this way helps reduce waste and supports sustainable gardening practices.

Worm Bin Composting?

Yes, coffee grounds can also be added to a worm bin composter. Worms love coffee grounds and consume them like anything else you give them.

Which Plants are Coffee Grounds Good for?

While coffee grounds can benefit many plants, some thrive on them more than others. Acid-loving plants such as roses, azaleas, tomatoes, blueberries, rhododendrons, and camellias are particularly fond of coffee grounds. 

These plants prefer a slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.0 and 6.5. Coffee grounds have a pH of around 6.5 when fresh but become more acidic as they decompose.

Using coffee grounds as fertilizer can improve soil structure and promote healthy microbial activity in the soil. This helps to create a nutrient-rich environment that supports plant growth and boosts plant health naturally.

When Should You Not Use Coffee Grounds for Plants?

While coffee grounds can be a beneficial fertilizer, there are some potential drawbacks to consider. One of the main concerns is that the high acidity levels in coffee grounds can affect the pH level of the soil, making it too acidic for some plants to thrive.

It’s important to test your soil’s pH level before adding coffee grounds, and only use them on plants that prefer acidic soil.

Do Coffee Grounds Deter Pests like Slugs and Snails

Some gardeners disagree, but many report that even sprinkling used grounds around plants deters slugs, snails, mosquitoes, bees, wasps and fleas from the garden.

Soil pH and Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds are naturally acidic, which means they can be a great addition to soil that is alkaline or neutral. If you have plants that prefer a more acidic environment, such as blueberries or rhododendrons, using coffee grounds as fertilizer can be especially beneficial.

However, it’s important to note that adding too much coffee grounds to your soil can make it too acidic and harm your plants. It’s best to use them in moderation and mix them with other organic matter, such as leaves or grass clippings.

You may also want to test your soil pH before adding coffee grounds to ensure that you are not creating an imbalanced soil environment.

Using Coffee Grounds in the Garden

It’s essential to note that while coffee grounds have many benefits for plants, it is essential not to use them excessively. Overapplication of coffee grounds can lead to an increase in acidity levels of the soil, which can be detrimental to some plants’ growth.

Plants like blueberries and rhododendrons thrive in acidic soils; however, most vegetables prefer a neutral pH range between 6-7. Overall using coffee ground as fertilizer is an easy way of recycling household waste products while improving your gardening experience.

Coffee Grounds and Pest Control

Coffee grounds contain caffeine, which has been found to be a natural repellent for common garden pests such as slugs, snails, and ants. Sprinkling used coffee grounds around plants can help keep these pests away without harming the environment or causing harm to other beneficial insects.

Brewing Up a Sustainable Future

Using coffee grounds as fertilizer is not only a practical way to reduce waste, but it is also an environmentally friendly practice. By incorporating coffee grounds into your garden, you are reducing the amount of organic matter that would otherwise end up in landfills and creating nutrient-rich soil for your plants.

Furthermore, by using coffee grounds obtained from local coffee shops or your own home-brewed coffee, you are supporting sustainable practices by reducing the carbon footprint associated with shipping and packaging commercial fertilizers. Making use of this abundant resource not only benefits your garden but also contributes to a more eco-friendly future for everyone.

Gardening with Coffee Grounds

Used coffee grounds are a simple and effective way to give your plants a nutrient boost. From improving soil structure to deterring pests, the benefits of coffee grounds are numerous.

Whether you choose to use them directly in the garden or compost with them first, you’ll be reducing waste and creating a sustainable future for your plants and our planet.