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Used Coffee Grounds - Fertilizer, Compost and Other Gardening Uses

Updated on June 20, 2011
Don't throw away used coffee grounds! Use them in your organic garden. Photo credit: rjg329 @flickr
Don't throw away used coffee grounds! Use them in your organic garden. Photo credit: rjg329 @flickr

Organic Gardening With Used Coffee Grounds

Every day it seems that there is some more news about the health benefits of drinking coffee.

There is yet another reason to enjoy drinking coffee and help out the environment, too. Used coffee grounds have many excellent uses in the garden. You can recycle coffee grounds for fertilizer, compost, and more. Recycling coffee grounds is a great way to add organic matter to the soil.

Be sure it's used coffee grounds, however, and not fresh. Used coffee grounds are non-toxic to kids and animals. They are very beneficial to the soil, adding a good balance of nutrients. But there is too much caffeine in fresh coffee grounds. It could harm the plants themselves, plus animals or kids.

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Coffee Grounds Fertilizer - Why?

Why recycle coffee grounds for fertilizer? They are high in nitrogen. Besides adding nitrogen to the soil, used coffee grounds also help replenish the soil by adding other nutrients such as magnesium. So coffee grounds add many of the same nutrients as commercial fertilizers.

Used Coffee Grounds as Compost

As mentioned, you can add the used coffee grounds directly into the compost pile. They are a safer way to add nitrogen and other nutrients than using manure, because manure can harbor disease causing bacteria. You can also recycle the paper coffee filters. Just toss them into the compost bin.

Coffee Grounds, Roses, and Gardenias

Roses and gardenias love coffee almost as much as we do. Why? Because these flowers like acidic soil. Blueberries like acidic soil, too. Adding coffee grounds to the flower beds helps to increase the acidity of the soil.

Research the plants around your home to see if you have any more acid loving plants for your used coffee grounds. Don't add coffee grounds to all plant soil, as it could make the soil too acidic for the plants.

How to Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer in the Organic Garden

Just take your used coffee grounds and put them around the base of plants. Use a garden cultivating fork to spread the coffee grounds a little bit into the soil. Don't put the coffee too deeply into the soil, no deeper than a half inch or so.

You can also just sprinkle used coffee grounds around the base of your plants. This allows the plants to slowly absorb the nitrogen and other nutrients. Don't pile the coffee grounds on too thickly. Use a very thin layer only. Too many will cause water to be unable to penetrate the soil as it should.

Used coffee grounds can be added to new beds, too. Just mix the grounds into the soil with a tiller. Water the soil before planting.

Used Coffee Grounds and Earthworms

Guess who else out in the garden loves coffee? Earthworms. Gardeners love earthworms because they help aerate the soil naturally. This allows more oxygen to get to the roots, which results in healthier, stronger plants.

Used Coffee Grounds as a Natural Pest Repellent

Coffee grounds are a natural pest repellent, too! Use them in gardens or flower beds to keep ants and slugs from harming your plants.

If you have a problem with cats in your garden, try used coffee grounds. The used coffee grounds won't hurt animals if they try to eat it, and cats don't like the smell!

Don't Despair If You Don't Drink Coffee! How to Get Used Coffee Grounds

If you don't drink coffee, you may still be able to reap the benefits of used coffee grounds in your garden. Ask friends or neighbors if they will save them for you. If you still have no luck, check out the nearest Starbucks coffee shop. Ask an employee about the used coffee grounds. Starbucks provides used coffee grinds to anyone who asks.

Coffee Grounds Fertilizer and Compost Substitute in the Organic Garden

So, now you know a few ways that drinking coffee can help the environment and your beloved flowers and garden plants. Isn't it great combining two things that you enjoy? Plus, you get beautiful flowers and delicious food in the process. All while saving money and helping out the environment. It's a great combination!

Coffee Grounds Compost Video

Coffee Grounds - Fertilizer, Compost and Other Gardening Uses Comments

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    • profile image

      Cynthia LaRochelle 

      2 years ago

      I been spreading brewed coffee grounds for yrs over my lawn. Thank you for the tip about plants, will it help my dwarf evergreen, she'said turning brown in places and I do water.

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      7 years ago from Germany and Philippines

      Great ideas! Will these coffee grounds good for my bouguinvillas? I have lots of bouguinvilla flowers on pots which are getting dull and I´m looking something to see them "alive" again. Thanks for sharing.

    • laughing loon profile image

      Lynda -Bailey 

      9 years ago from South Los Angeles

      Another great use for coffee. It has alot of nitrogen in it. The texture is perfect for garden soil. nThanks for sharing.

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      10 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      @Peggy W--we've found coffee grounds are especially good for sprinkling around strawberry plants to act as a natural repellent. Slugs don't like to crawl across them because the coffee grounds stick to them.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      10 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I had no idea it would dissuade slugs and also cats from entering the garden. Another good reason to use them! Thanks!

    • GiftedGrandma profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      I've been doing that for quit some time. Didn't know about the filter though! Great hub :O)

    • GojiJuiceGoodness profile image


      10 years ago from Roanoke, Virginia

      We only do organic gardening and coffee grounds are a great thing to use. We sometimes sprinkle them on the soil around plants in the garden or just put them in the compost pile.

      Great hub! Thanks for sharing this info. :)

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      10 years ago from London, UK

      I am using them in the garden and since I only buy organic coffee it definitely adds to my garden.

    • suziecat7 profile image


      10 years ago from Asheville, NC

      I've been using coffee grounds in my garden for years. Great Hub.

    • World-Traveler profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      Great idea! Although I am living in a land of coffee I had not thought of that. Your writing is full of excellent content and advice. I like the way you formatted the subject material. Thanks!

    • Bob Ewing profile image

      Bob Ewing 

      10 years ago from New Brunswick

      I have been using coffee grounds in compost and added directly to bed for years now; sound advice in this hub.


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