How Coffee Grounds Can Boost Your Garden's Health


May 28 2021, Published 12:50 p.m. ET

Coffee ground home garden benefits
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As it turns out, coffee isn’t just for waking yourself up in the morning, it’s also a time-tested tool for the backyard gardener. That caffeine boost can help improve garden soil and minimize waste at the same time. Some home gardeners are likely familiar with using coffee grounds as fertilizer, but might be wondering what other benefits coffee has for the home garden other than composting?

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What are the benefits of using coffee grounds in your home garden?

Coffee grounds have many applications in the home garden. They are an effective fertilizer, an essential component of compost, and a means for keeping certain pests away from your prized begonias. You just have to understand how and when to utilize them correctly.

Cup of coffee
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Adding coffee grounds to compost has several benefits.

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient when it comes to creating fertile garden soil. Composting works by creating conditions that promote the growth of helpful aerobic bacteria. To create a solid compost pile, you need four things: greens, browns, air, and moisture. Coffee grounds, rich as they are with nitrogen, are part of the greens category. Included with them are fruit and veggie scraps, eggshells, and bread.

Coffee filters, while part of the browns equation, can also help build a healthier compost over time. If you plan on using both coffee and filters in your compost pile, make certain that your coffee filters are actually compostable, and that your browns and greens are in about equal distribution. It will take time, but the resultant fertilizer you get from using old coffee grounds will make your soil healthier than it would be otherwise, especially if you plant in the same patch of ground year after year.

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If you don’t drink coffee or have it at home, you can still take advantage of the grounds. According to Backyard Boss, you can get free coffee grounds from your local Starbucks just by asking. Many branches actually put out the spent grounds in bags for customers to take throughout the day. It’s a great way to conserve waste and utilize a very handy source of nitrogen.

Mulch for gardening
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Coffee makes great garden fertilizer.

We already know that coffee grounds are a great addition to compost, but you don’t have to wait for that compost to mature to take advantage of coffee’s amazing potential. Even on their own, coffee grounds can be an effective fertilizer for plants. In fact, according to GrowVeg, coffee grounds contain enough nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and other micronutrients to help plants thrive.

Simply sprinkle them into your potted plants and voila, you’ve got a slow-release fertilizer that can be added at least a few times a week. According to Gardening Know How, that slow release is helpful in grass growth as well, making coffee grounds a stimulating, nutrient-rich fertilizer for even the most stubborn lawns.

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Coffee beans and grounds
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Coffee can keep pests away.

According to The Spruce, coffee grounds are so abrasive that garden pests like snails and slugs actually hate having to slime their way through them. Simply sprinkle some old grounds at the base of your slug-favorite plants to create a slug and snail barrier. Note that many cats also dislike the smell of coffee, so the grounds might keep them from defecating in your garden boxes, as well.

In addition to being a pest repellent, coffee grounds have also been known to draw in helpful garden critters like earthworms. According to GrowVeg, many vermicomposters rave about how much their worms love eating coffee grounds.

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