Dance
Dance Top Picks

Gardening Blog

Perk Up! 7 Tips for Using Coffee Grounds in the Garden

If you’re like me, that morning cup of coffee is non-negotiable. Over time, that caffeine habit can generate a lot of coffee grounds. Don’t toss those grounds into the trash — using coffee grounds in the garden can help create the garden of your dreams.

How to Use Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

Success With Container Gardening

container gardening

Gain confidence with container gardening for beautiful results.Get My FREE Guide »

The benefits of coffee grounds

Coffee grounds are a valuable soil amendment, slow-release fertilizer and compost ingredient. High in phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and copper, coffee grounds add valuable nutrients to your garden and will help your vegetables, flowers and shrubs grow well.

The naturally occurring, non-harmful fungal colonies on coffee “appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, including Fusarium, Pythium and Sclerotinia species,” according to Linda Chalker-Scott, Ph.D.. The addition of coffee grounds to planting areas could help naturally suppress common garden diseases.

Don't worry that coffee grounds will be too acidic for your garden. PH tests of coffee grounds show results from mildly acid to mildly alkaline and grounds become progressively closer to neutral over time as they compost.

Where to get grounds

If your coffee pot doesn’t get quite the workout mine does, don’t worry! Most coffee shops, including shops in the Starbucks chain, will happily save their grounds for you to pick up.

If you want coffee grounds in quantity, talk to the owner or manager of a local coffee shop. Chances are, they’ll be happy to let you drop off a clean 5 gallon bucket in the morning and pick it up — full of coffee grounds — in the evening. Just make sure to show up to pick up your grounds when you say you will so this great garden amendment stays free and available.

How to use coffee grounds in the garden

1. Top-dressing mulch

Most of our coffee grounds go straight out to the garden, sprinkled around our perennial edibles. I use them to mulch around blueberries, fruit trees, currants and cane fruit with good results.

When adding a layer of coffee grounds directly to the soil, don’t pile the grounds on too thick — that’s a sure-fire way to end up with moldy mulch! A light quarter-inch layer of grounds on top of your normal mulch will break down quickly as worms and soil microbes go to work.

Coffee grounds used to mulch garden

2. Direct soil amendment

When worked into the soil, coffee grounds act much like compost, and can improve tilth and add needed organic matter to depleted soils.

Incorporate coffee grounds up to 1/4th of the original soil volume, and be sure to fully incorporate the grounds by turning them in to a depth of several inches.

3. Lasagna garden component

Building a lasagna garden? In between layers of old straw or grass clippings, broadcast generous handfuls of coffee grounds. Repeat throughout the layered bed, being careful never to make any single layer of coffee grounds too deep; layers no thicker than 1/2-inch are best.

Coffee grounds-enriched soil grows big, healthy, organic vegetables!

Coffee Grounds For Garden118

4. Slow-release organic fertilizer

Many DIY organic fertilizers rely on seedmeal for most of their nitrogen. A coffee bean, if you think about it, is little more than a seed that's been subjected to some drying, roasting and perhaps other processing (I'm looking at you, decaf!). It shouldn't be too surprising, then, that coffee grounds contain a reasonable amount of nitrogen —about 2.3 percent, depending on extraction.

Sprinkle coffee grounds alongside leafy greens and fruiting crops in mid-season when an extra boost of slow-release nitrogen is called for.

5. Compost component

Depending on the exact processing and extraction, coffee grounds contain a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio of between 11:1 and 24:1. That makes them a “green” in the compost, even though everything else about coffee is brown!

Add coffee grounds to your normal, diverse compost pile. Because coffee grounds tend to be heavy and can mat down, you’ll get best results when you incorporate them at up to 1/3 of the compost pile volume. 1/3 shredded paper, 1/3 organic lawn clippings and 1/3 coffee grounds will make beautiful compost with ingredients that are all straight from the urban waste stream.

6. Vermicompost food

Share the buzz on coffee beans with your wormy friends! Coffee grounds make a great addition to a diverse vermicompost bin.

Just add the grounds (and unbleached paper coffee filters, too, if you want) to an established worm bin. Worms should not be fed exclusively coffee grounds, or be given a large amount of grounds at a time (so don’t upend the Starbucks 5-gallon bucket into your worm bin!) but a medium-size bin will happily process through the grounds from a pot a day.

7. Natural slug deterrent

Do you have a problem with slugs? Coffee grounds can help deter those slithering little beasts.
Slugs and snails don’t like crawling over coffee grounds (it scratches their slimy underbellies). Protect slug-magnet plants like cabbage or hostas with a generous circle of coffee grounds. In my experience this isn't a 100% solution, but does help in combination with other natural slug control methods like beer traps.

Hosta Plant

Success With Container Gardening

container gardening

Gain confidence with container gardening for beautiful results.Get My FREE Guide »

6 Comments

Norma Yarbrough

Great to hear about how to use the coffee grounds and quantity

Reply
Rebecca hempe

My dad has been doing this for years. Now that I am enjoying making a fresh brew of coffee these days. I am putting my used coffee grounds to good use.

Reply
Susan

I had already started to save my coffee grounds before I read your post. Now I know how to use them for the most benefit. Also, what kind of coffee grinder is in the picture atop the Kerr jar? Is it available for purchase?

Reply
Brenda

I saw it on Amazon.com.

Reply
Pat Mesic

What does epson salts do for the garden?

Reply
norm

will it help in a cactus garden

Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Reply