A Common-Sense Guide to Using Coffee Grounds in the Garden

, written by gb flag

Coffee grounds and coffee beans

Coffee shops often give coffee grounds away free to gardeners, as they’re a waste product they would normally have to pay to dispose of. For coffee-loving gardeners like me, this freely available resource sounds like a real boon. But some gardeners suggest that using coffee grounds could be ineffective or, worse, harmful to plants.

I decided to sort the facts from the hype and find out just how beneficial – or otherwise – coffee grounds are in the garden.

Using Coffee Grounds as Mulch

Mulching is incredibly beneficial but it’s notoriously difficult to come by compost, straw or other organic matter in large enough quantities at a low enough price. Using free coffee grounds seems like the perfect solution, but some gardeners have found that using coffee grounds directly on the soil has had a disastrous effect on plants. However this seems to be linked to using thick blankets of it to mulch around plants and over seeds.

With care, used coffee grounds can be added to the vegetable garden soil

The reason for this could be that coffee beans contain caffeine, which is said to suppress the growth of other plants to reduce competition for space, nutrients, water and sunlight. How much caffeine actually remains in used coffee grounds is debatable, and some plants will be more sensitive to caffeine than others. It would be sensible to avoid spreading coffee grounds around seeds or seedlings as they may inhibit germination and growth.

There is a more obvious reason why using coffee grounds alone for mulching could be detrimental. Like clay soil, coffee grounds consist of very fine particles that are prone to locking together. This turns them into a barrier that will resist water penetration and eventually result in plants dying of thirst.

The solution is to mix coffee grounds with other organic matter such as compost or leafmold before using it as a mulch. Alternatively, rake your coffee grounds into the top layer of soil so that they can’t clump together. Variable particle sizes is key to good soil structure.

Coffee grounds are often said to be acidic but this can vary a lot, from very acidic to slightly alkaline, so don’t expect them to acidify higher pH soils.

Sprinkle used coffee grounds around plants as a slow-release fertiliser

Using Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Many of us will have dumped the cold remains of a forgotten coffee in a plant pot at some point, and then perhaps wondered if it was the wrong thing to do! But it turns out that coffee grounds contain a good amount of the essential nutrient nitrogen as well as some potassium and phosphorus, plus other micronutrients. The quantity and proportions of these nutrients varies, but coffee grounds can be used as a slow-release fertilizer.

To use coffee grounds as a fertilizer sprinkle them thinly onto your soil, or add them to your compost heap. Despite their color, for the purposes of composting they’re a ‘green’, or nitrogen-rich organic material. Make sure to balance them with enough ‘browns’ – carbon-rich materials such as dried leaves, woody prunings or newspaper. Your compost heap’s tiny munchers and gnawers will process and mix them effectively, so using coffee grounds in this way is widely accepted to be safe and beneficial.

Many vermicomposters say that their worms love coffee grounds, so small quantities could also regularly be added to a worm bin if you have one. Paper coffee filters can go in too.

Used coffee grounds can safely be added to the compost heap

Coffee Grounds as a Natural Pesticide

An oft-repeated nugget of advice is to spread used coffee grounds around plants that are vulnerable to slug damage. There are two theories why: either the texture of the grounds is abrasive, and soft-bodied slugs prefer not to cross them, or the caffeine is harmful to slugs so they tend to avoid it.

However in an experiment slugs took just seconds to decide to cross a barrier of coffee grounds! The same researcher also sought to find out if coffee grounds would repel ants, with similar results – ants may not particularly like coffee grounds, but they won’t scarper out of your garden to get away from them.

Enjoy your daily brew and recycle used coffee grounds in the garden

Coffee Grounds and Dogs

One word of warning though: coffee grounds may not have much effect on pests, but they can be harmful to pets in large enough doses. It’s hard to say what would be a large enough dose to cause poisoning because the amount of caffeine in used coffee grounds varies. But if you have a dog that insists on sampling anything that smells halfway agreeable, it would be wise to avoid laying coffee grounds directly onto the garden. Bury them in your compost heap instead.

Coffee grounds are free organic matter, whether a by-product of your at-home daily brew or collected from coffee shops that are only too glad to give them away for nothing. If used with care and common sense, they are a worthwhile addition your compost heap and your soil.

Have you used coffee grounds in the garden? What was your experience? Share it with us by leaving a comment below!

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Show Comments


"I only use coffee grounds from my own kitchen. I had collected free grounds from a coffee shop chain store until I realized they used artificial flavorings and I did not want to add chemicals to my organic garden."
LYN on Friday 5 January 2018
"I save all coffee grounds from our morning coffee and use it around the bases of my rose bushes. They love it! I also will be using it on the hydrangeas."
Helen Ullrich on Friday 5 January 2018
"I throw all my coffee grounds into the compost bin and also collect them from hotels in the area along with those beautiful vegetable scraps that prep cooks work with on a daily basis. I bring two empty five-gallon bins and walk out with two full five-gallon bins every day, all year long. It's as routine to me as brushing my teeth."
Wendy on Friday 5 January 2018
"I dumpster dive behind Starbucks for garbage bags, remove the mushy buns, coffee filters and banana peels and spread the coffee grounds around the edges of my garden beds. As they seem to hate the smell, coffee grounds deter animals like dogs, cats, raccoons or squirrels that dig in my garden or like the nice soft soil to poop. I use them in early Spring or whenever I have carefully nurtured seedlings that are killed when dug up by pests. I also add them to the compost bin."
Marion on Friday 5 January 2018
"For many of the reasons noted, composting or mixing coffee grounds into the soil or some carbonaceous material is perhaps the best approach. It allows faster breakdown and release of nutrients, incorporation into the soil matrix, and attraction of worms."
Steve on Saturday 6 January 2018
"It's great to hear that so many gardeners are experiencing success with used coffee grounds! Have you noticed any instances where you feel you shouldn't use them?"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 9 January 2018
"I collect 20 - 25 gallons of used coffee grounds per week from local coffee house.. I mix them with leaves and horse manure and make a big pile and add water and then let compost. I have been using for fertilizer for many years with good success. I don’t advise dumping coffee grounds in a pile by themselves. Coffee grounds by themselves make a gooy mess. Mixing with leaves works well."
Greg on Thursday 11 January 2018
"I just throw the grounds and filter into the compost. As a mulch, be sure to use a thin layer, mix in a little. If you have too thick of a layer of grounds it crusts over."
Sarah on Wednesday 17 January 2018
"For a number of years, I’ve just been putting uncomposted coffee grounds on my rose bushes - just “dumping them” around the base of each bush. Somehow, they disappear into the soil after a good rain or two and the roses thrive. I use 100% Colombian beans ground at my local coffee house."
Helen Ullrich on Wednesday 17 January 2018
"Into a five gallon bucket I put about 2/3 full of used coffee grounds and then filled it with water. I then stirred it well for a couple minutes with a stick as it was quite thick. Using a quart size container, I ladled the thick, wet mixture (like very thick coffee) onto the soil of four pots each with yellowing leaves, badly in need of fertilizer. The outside temp was about 85 degrees and in two days, the plants were green. Seriously. It was as effective at greening my plants as the most famous blue powder commercial fertilizer. Also, I have planted probably over 10,000 one or five gallon plants mixing a good amount of coffee grounds directly in the soil. The results are always good and are better than amending your planting soil with commercial mulches. "
Patrick on Thursday 22 February 2018
"I make my own filter coffee, grind the beans, make coffee I just dump em on the garden, I guess they will rot down in time, after all they are organic, then in the spring I just rake it into the topsoil I used to have chickens, all the waste food went to them, I used to buy em a cabbage or 2 to peck at as well I just used to dump coffee grounds in with them, they used to scratch it into the top soil for me, they used to peck it, but I don't think they ever ate them, if they did it never seemed to harm them Now food scraps are put in a hole, then spring time I did everything over I did try growing mushrooms in coffee grounds, well that's a month I wont be getting back, waste of time, they never grew"
Derrick on Friday 23 February 2018
"Great to hear that so many gardeners are enjoying success with coffee grounds. As with most things in gardening, carrying out your own practical experiments coupled with listening to other gardeners' experiences is the best way to learn what works best for your own unique garden!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 27 February 2018
"Starbucks will give you a bag or two of coffee grounds for free, just ask. I not only add coffee grounds to my compost tumblers I also add worms, they love the grounds and everything else I add. I make some very rich compost that I use throughout my garden. Making compost is a must for any gardener, try it!"
Mike on Friday 23 March 2018
"my name is Kev Wharton i live in my own little Paradise i'm 89 at the moment i'm only interested in my own little plot, that i'm caring for. can anyone out there tell me how much coffee grounds should i apply in dried weight to the square metre of 4'' deep soil, reply sooner than latter, i'd like to work on it. Kev"
kevin Wharton on Wednesday 28 March 2018
"Hi Kev, if I was going to add coffee grounds directly to the soil a few handfuls then mixed in would be alright ever so often. I just prefer adding grounds to my compost pile instead then adding to my garden, just my choice."
Mike on Wednesday 28 March 2018
"Last year I saved coffee grounds over a few days and them put all of them at the base of my azaleas and rhododendron. The rhody bloomed well that year, but the azaleas didn't bloom and one of them looked like it was on the brink of dying. I had read that coffee grounds can rob the roots of plants from getting enough water and oxygen if they're applied to thickly, so I scooped about half the coffee grounds away from the azalea roots and watered them well. The plants eventually sprung back and are now budding, so I'm hopeful they'll bloom this year. Now I just sprinkle a small amount over the soil a couple times a year and put the grounds in with my compost the rest of the year."
Angela on Thursday 5 April 2018
"I've used coffee grounds as a fertilizer for many years. I sprinkle it over, just like you suggested. During winter I put it in my compost. "
Maria on Wednesday 18 April 2018
"I have always been told by a sicilian lady not to put coffee grinds around fruiting and flowering plants, but its ok for all other plants. I have been using it with herbs to great success."
Antonietta on Sunday 22 April 2018
"Interesting! Thanks for sharing."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 24 April 2018
"This is a great thread of examples! I've been throwing my coffee grounds on my grass and around all my flowers (acid loving and non) for a couple years now. The biggest change I've noticed in my red clay soil of Atlanta is the huge increase in worms! It's awesome! Everytime I dig to plant something, worms come up with. I've been in my house 13 years, and the worm increase is directly aligned with when I started tossing out coffee. Everything is happier with worms! I'm very unscientific. We make 8 cups a day.. I save the grounds in a tupperware, and when it's full I go sprinkle them in another section of the yard. Nothing is covered thicky, I just toss 'em out - easy to do! "
Lisa on Tuesday 15 May 2018
"I was using fresh coffee grounds- I added them to the soil but I promptly saw white fuzzy mold appear within days. Use with caution. "
X on Friday 18 May 2018
"It sounds like you've got a good system going Lisa! Keep up the good work. X, fungi are part of the composting process and it's not uncommon to see organic matter covered in mould as it rots down, so personally I wouldn't worry about this. But if anyone reading this has specialised knowledge of moulds, feel free to chip in with your opinion!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 22 May 2018
"I used to put the coffee grounds into my compost and then dump the compost in the henhouse. The hens egg shells began to get thin and break. All winter, I tried everything to correct the thinning shells, finally I realized it was the coffee grounds. Kind of makes you wonder if coffee is leaching calcium from our bones..."
Sally McIntosh on Monday 11 June 2018
"Hi Sally. I haven't heard of any issues with hens eating coffee grounds in compost, but it's interesting that you've noticed a correlation between this and egg quality. Is the compost rotted down at all when you put it in your henhouse?"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 19 June 2018
"hi all I take my coffee grounds,put them a couple of shovels full ,through my mesh screen sifter one qtr inch, with my leaf mold ,looks like potting soil real qk,then i damp 2 shovels full of rabbit manure run it through sifter,mix this together , put it down day of a good rain around my tomatoes , the tomatoes think they are in tom heaven lol lol lol lol won largest tom in my county last year ,going for state record now i will get it if blight dont get me first love gardening hope u try this put a mulch of this down no fert ever needed "
bobby bennett on Wednesday 20 June 2018
"Wow, it sounds like you're enjoying great results Bobby! Fingers crossed for the state record."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 20 June 2018
"Hi there! Fairly new gardener (actually, single mom trying to help out my teenage son...he has the green thumb!) He heard about using coffee grounds and I brew at home daily. One potential problem: I break up a cinnamon stick in to my grounds prior to brewing for additional flavor. Anyone know if the cinnamon will hurt the plants? He currently is only growing a “salsa” garden. (Tomato, peppers (hot and bell), onion and chive). "
Tracy on Tuesday 26 June 2018
"Tracy - I use 100% flavored coffee - amaretto, cinnamon, chocolate, you name it! Now, I buy it that way so the flavor is part of the roasters prep vs mine.... but the worms and my dirt don't seem to mind at all. Not sure how much cinnamon you're putting in - but a little bit shouldn't hurt in my best guesstimate? I don't grow peppers so have never tested the coffee in peppers specifically - but flavored coffee in flowers has been a huge garden win for what that's worth :) "
Lisa on Wednesday 27 June 2018
"@Lisa Thank you! I usually just break up one cinnamon stick for each full pot of grounds. I was actually assuming it would be good because the cinnamon sticks are woody and could provide moisture benefits that way, but am nervous about the "spice" of them. He has several plants of each, so maybe I will test one of each variety and see what happens! "
Tracy on Wednesday 27 June 2018
"Hey Everyone, Hi work at a coffee bar in a Whole Foods. They use organic coffee, but can't advertise the organic status due to the way the urns, etc. are cleaned. If you only want organic grounds, they are more than happy to give them away to the public-just ask!"
Willa on Monday 9 July 2018
"That's great to know -thanks Willa!"
Lisa on Monday 9 July 2018
"Last summer I had many vegetable plants in containers and dumped coffee grounds around some of the plants occasionally. I had a great crop of eggplant. They looked beautiful, but they tasted awful!! So bitter! I tried picking them small, picking them big, cooking them right after picking, waiting a few days to cook them, it didn’t matter... they were literally inedible. I think the coffee may have done it, although I did t find that as a possible reason anywhere on the internet."
Liz on Saturday 21 July 2018
"Hi Liz. Sorry to hear your eggplants weren't very tasty! I have heard that some people cut up eggplant and soak it in salt before eating to draw out moisture and any bitter taste. Was it a variety you've grown before? If not, it could be worth growing two different varieties together next year to see if it's simply the variety, or if something else that caused the bitter taste. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 25 July 2018
"Our Hostas used to be eaten to stalks till I started washing out the cafftier and tipping it round them and hey presto full healthy plants."
John on Wednesday 8 August 2018
"How often would one add coffee grounds as a thin layer of mulch to their garden? Once a week? Every few weeks? I am having issues with nitrogen deficiency and go through a lot of coffee at my office, so I would like to start bringing home the grounds to use. My current plan is to dump the used grounds into a container ever morning and then bring it home on Fridays and work it into my garden over the weekend. I would love to hear if this sounds feasible! Thanks!"
Jess on Friday 24 August 2018
"Hi Jess. Adding your coffee grounds as a mulch once a week should be fine. I'd rotate it around different areas of your garden each week if you can to build up the organic matter gradually."
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 31 August 2018
"I just put our coffee grounds in the compost, and this seems to work fine. The compost is a good black colour and holds together well. However, I also have a little tub in our kitchen sink (it fits inside the smaller sink). In this tub I put any waster water, for example, what I cook and rinse noodles in. When I am rinsing out the coffee plunger and Aeropress, instead of using fresh water, I just rinse them out in this saved water. One can use it as well for rinsing cups and dishes before they go in the dishwasher. The saved water goes a bit brown, but it isn't objectionable. Periodically I empty it over the garden. (For this reason I try to avoid food scraps going in the saved water, as that might attract inssect or vermin.)"
Guy on Wednesday 5 September 2018
"Thanks for the article dude. I will try coffee grounds to my Hydrangea plant as It has never showed any signs of blooming. What a heart-breaking plant. I guess it lacks of an Nitrogen supply."
RosesAreViolet on Friday 14 September 2018
"RosesAreViolet, the lack of flowers is unlikely to be down to a lack of nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential for strong growth, but for flowers plants need a good supply of potassium (or potash). Using coffee grounds shouldn't hurt though. I'm not an expert in hydrangeas but it's also important to make sure you're not removing next year's flower buds when pruning."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 September 2018
"One hack I've learned on Hydrangeas - make sure you keep the grounds on the ground and not on the leaves. I take a weeks worth of coffee grounds at a time and toss 'em about... works great everywhere but(!) I found out the hard way hydrangea leaves are not fans of grounds. I tossed some a bit too high (sloppy, I know) and they ended up on the leaves for a few days before it rained. Sun burnt them into the leaves and I got coffee-spots on my leaves (oops!). they don't seem any worse for wear other than their spots, but both hydrangeas and hastas definitely prefer to have the coffee at the base, or washed off w/ a hose/rain quickly. they do a beautiful job keeping slugs off my hastas so don't avoid the hastas w/ the grounds - just wash 'em off the leaves. "
Lisa on Wednesday 26 September 2018
"I just got a coffee pot and started saving grounds. When should I start spreading them? "
Maggie on Sunday 21 October 2018
"Hmmm I always stop spreading them in the late fall and wait until spring has sprung again... would be interested to know if other folks here are winter-spreaders?! "
Atlanta winter on Monday 22 October 2018
"This year I tried coffee grinds on our lawn. Our lawn is very old and tired and the drought took its toll. I was offered a large bag of grounds, did a bit of duckduckgoing. I mowed the lawn without the box (I always try to cut the lawn this way thus providing green and brown matter back to the lawn). Scooped the grounds over the lawn and the raked over to get it relatively even. After summer our lawn picks up in winter but it's nothing special, with bald spots and thinning on well used areas. However, after coffee ground application and the first rains, I couldn't believe my eyes. The lawn has never looked so lush and was recolonising the thinned areas. It's November now and most of the bald patches have gone too. Another plus- no cat poo on the lawn! I'm definitely trying this again next year on the lawn and will add to the garden soil too. There's nothing worse than getting a handful of cat poo when you're gardening - especially as we don't have a cat (we have 10+ visiting our garden) So I'm hoping this will solve the problem."
STEPHANIE LEWSEY on Friday 9 November 2018
"I've successfully and unsucessfully used coffee grounds. Where it works for me is when I sow seeds like lettuce, spinach or brassica's directly I put a thin layer of compost on top then about half an inch of used coffee grounds. The seeds grow well and aren't noticed by slugs until they're we developed by which time they're strong enough to resist them. Where it didn't work so well was when I put it after around developed vegetables and when watered it spread out to create a smooth crust which holds water up, stopping it from penetrating. It didn't directly damage the carrots, strawberries, celery, and leeks, they grew well and were also protected from slugs (except the corriander which was munched) but shows how you use it does matter. "
Edward on Saturday 10 November 2018
"I use coffee grounds round the citrus trees. When i mow the lawn and put grass around the citrus trees i add the coffee grounds on top and wash the grounds in. Seems to help grass break down and increases the amount of worms. Blackbirds and thrushes have a field day. Also add grounds to compost bins."
Stuart Box on Tuesday 20 November 2018
"Can I add coffee grounds from "Starbucks" to my palm tress? "
Eliza on Tuesday 27 November 2018
"Not quite coffee grounds, but I also add the filters to the top of my 'starter pots' with seeds and sometimes tiny cuttings. It keeps the moisture in, especially in hot weather, also, I sometimes use the coffee filters to line smaller pots to keep the soil from seeping thru the large holes at the bottom of the pots. "
Kathy Bezy on Tuesday 27 November 2018
"Eliza, grounds from any coffee shop will be fine to use."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 5 December 2018
"Thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences with using coffee grounds so far. Keep them coming! :)"
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 5 December 2018
"I've used uncomposted coffee grounds directly on rose bushes and also used it in different gardens as fertilizer,as it seems, many that have commented on here do.I've never had any problems and actually have gained benefits .I only use the grounds from our coffee making,so it's not an incredible amount,but it seems to be a good thing to amend soil with "
Rodd Foudray on Monday 31 December 2018
"I work at Starbucks and get boat loads of grounds each shift. 1. Just so you know, it's not the easiest to get the baristas to begin a pattern of throwing their grounds into a new location. I know it sounds petty, but people are lazy. Our store is SO busy that I don't ask them to do another task, I set up the bucket with bags, a box to protect the spilled mess and then clean it up when my shift ends. So, just so you know, it isn't as easy as throwing grounds into a bin. 2. I have a huge garden and this year I have collected my neighbors leaves, mulched them and put alot of the coffee grounds on top seeing if Mr. Winter will naturally compost my entire garden. I also use horse manure/hay from the mounted police I get for free, rabbit pooh from a rescue rabbit facility, llama pooh I get for free and I have 4 buckets of red wiggler worms (started with 50 worms last summer!) that I use for my seedlings. We also compost all our scraps (my husband juices) and have a 3 tiered compost system to throw things in with no rhyme or reason. I have tried the "lasagna" system this past fall and am excited to see the results (it looks good!) and have a tumbler as well. I look forward to hopefully seeing the fruit of my labor. Oh, and I planted a cover crop of diacon radishes in the fall to mulch over this spring. I'll share my results. "
Sara G on Wednesday 2 January 2019
"Interesting to hear about how things actually work in the coffee shop Sara. I bet local gardeners would be very grateful for your efforts if there's any going spare! Good luck with your coffee-enriched garden this year."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 5 January 2019
"Two things to add here. Every spring we had an ant problem, and had to call the sprayer dudes. Then we started putting coffee grounds around the whole perimeter of the house. No ants ever since we started that, about 6 years ago. Also in our community garden and family came and dumped loads of starbucks grounds in their plots every week. They planted directly into it. They had the best looking crops hands down. We are now dumping grounds and mulched leaves into our beds. We will see. "
Rhetta L Jack on Tuesday 15 January 2019
"I stayed in a Zen monastery once. The monks put coffee grounds in their compost. They said that it is an aphrodisiac for worms."
Dan M on Tuesday 22 January 2019
"I love the idea of the monks giving worms an aphrodisiac! That did make me laugh Dan, thanks for sharing."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 26 January 2019
"I grow aloes and cacti, as well as palm and other tropical trees. Would mixing coffee grounds into the soil help them or harm them?"
michele on Tuesday 19 February 2019
"Hi Michele. They're not plants that grow in my cool climate, so I must confess I have no idea how tropical plants will fare with coffee grounds! If you're unsure, the best place for your coffee grounds is probably your compost pile."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 20 February 2019
"I have 14 plants outside, hydrangeus, cigar, and pineapple sage. I put coffee grounds on one plant every morning. So every 2 weeks a plant get it's grounds. Is this a good interval I'm using? First timer here, so I need some advice."
Pat Nugent on Wednesday 17 April 2019
"Pat - it probably depends how many grounds. For one cup of coffee or eight? And are these one gallon or five gallon pots, etc? Personally, it seems a little high to me, but I can't claim any expertise except trial and error in my own yard. I make an 8 cup pot of coffee each day, and once a week distribute the grounds to to my 1/10 acre yard. I'd say based on my informal "toss it out in the part of the yard that had any for a while" distribution method, my hydrangeas get some grounds (say two handfulls full) every month and half to two months. They've been on this cycle for I think 3 years at least now and are very happy! Good luck caffinating your plants :) "
Lisa on Wednesday 17 April 2019
"Lisa, Thanks. We make 10 cups every morning. I believe I will cut back on the cigar and pineapple sage. Most of these plants are about 3 gallon size. Hydrangeas rotation to maybe once a month. See how that works."
Pat Nugent on Wednesday 17 April 2019
"Hi, I just got my first big bag of coffee grounds from coffee shop today. Im excited to begin my veggie garden. Im just wondering if it is ok to mix one bucket of grounds to say four buckets of soil? I thought if I tossed the soil/grounds together a few times and then planted seedlings that might work? We are in Autumn now so I thought Id get some veggies in before Winter? Thank you"
Carmen Wood on Sunday 28 April 2019
"Hi Carmen. That may work but my feeling is that it's probably best to wait until the seedlings are established and growing strongly before adding the coffee grounds. You can then just add it to the soil surface around plants as a mulch that will have the additional benefit of helping to keep weeds down. If you water before mulching this will also help reduce evaporation."
Ann Marie hendry on Tuesday 30 April 2019
"I get my Sister-in-law’s, Citgo and She’ll station grounds( we don’t drink coffee) and I add to my regular compost, my “Hot pile” and my Bama pile( he’s our baby boy OES) and the work great especially in the Bama pile that has to heat to around 130-140. I can’t wait till next year. P.S. wifey won’t let Bama pile anywhere near our veggies or other compost lol."
Robert B on Friday 10 May 2019
"Well, I moved into our newly built house (on our old garden) a year ago and have been adding a sparkling of grounds around Rhododendrons and they have flowered better than ever before. It might be that it has taken them a year to 'settle' back into the ground but they are certainly not suffering from the 'treatment'"
Rachel Cunynghame on Saturday 18 May 2019
"I've used coffee grounds in compost and on the garden (sparingly). But the tiger worms in my worm farm didn't like them."
Fiona Campbell on Wednesday 22 May 2019
"Hi the comments here have been really helpful, so thank you everyone. I’m assuming most gardens here are in the northern hemisphere and perhaps colder climates. My gardens in Sydney. I think it’s called a subtropical and it’s coastal but still very very dry. Soils are sandy and I feel I lose nutrients with terrential rain. We’ve had a hot autumn. I have native rain forest plants and just happened empty a coffee shop straight onto drip line as a thick mulch and transformed my garden with green lucious growth. Australian natives are sensitive so quite surprised. I’m trying on lilipilies now. Welcome any Southern Hemisphere gardening advice. Agree with comment about barista training being hard work. I’m working on our local council to start compost collection. "
Kate on Sunday 26 May 2019
"If my coffee grounds have started to mold, are they still ok to put on plants"
Sheila on Monday 3 June 2019
"If my coffee grounds have started to mold, are they still ok to put on plants"
Sheila on Monday 3 June 2019
"Spread them around the base of my lady slippers. Leaves are very green and flowers are robust. And no bugs."
Edith Mulhall on Sunday 16 June 2019
"Hi Sheila. It will probably still be fine - some mold is normal during the composting process. If you're unsure, add it to your compost heap to break down completely before using it on your plants."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 18 June 2019
"Just planted Blue Leaf Hosta. Will coffee grounds deter the nibblers that chewed one down to stalks. Will the grounds enhance the growth or hinder? "
Eenie Sullivan on Tuesday 2 July 2019
"I haven't tried coffee grounds around my hostas before Eenie, but I don't see any reason why they'd suffer from it. Try it and see if it deters whatever ate them - I suspect probably not, but you never know!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 3 July 2019
"What sort of nibblers? I put coffee around my hastas and it does seem to help with the slugs and hte "hole creating" nibblers, but I do not have deer or other large animal nibblers, so can't speak to how it impacts them. "
Lisa on Wednesday 3 July 2019
"Can brewed tea leaves be used with coffee grounds?"
Julie on Monday 8 July 2019
"I don't see why not. I often spread used tea leaves around plants too. "
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 12 July 2019
"I work for Starbucks UK and down at HQ in London, all the flower beds are mixed in with used coffee and it looks absolutely beautiful so vibrant with colours. I also use them in my own vegetable garden at home and the results are incredible if you use it mixed into the soil as a fertiliser."
Nigel Bridges on Thursday 18 July 2019
"Sally Macintosh, Coffee doesn't leach calcium from our bones per se, but it does prevent the absorption of calcium, hence the thin shells. When I was a kid, we always put our egg shells out for the chickens. They pecked away at them and got some calcium that way."
Ms. Librarian on Wednesday 31 July 2019
"Several sites have said that caffeine is bad for plants, so in the future I plan to use only the grounds from my decaf."
Ms. Librarian on Wednesday 31 July 2019
"I have been putting them around my blueberry plants, I removed a jasmine bush, apparently a jasmine like alkaline soil, blueberries like acid soil, I just been taking them out of my coffee maker and dump em in the soil, scrape it in, don’t know if it will do them any good Used to put them in my compost bin, but they just went furry, grass cuttings, dug up weeds, old dead plants on in there, maybe it’s just too moist in there for them Come next year I’ll find out if these coffee grounds are any good "
Derrick on Tuesday 10 September 2019
"Keep us posted on your results Derrick!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 21 September 2019
"Title: Common Sense Guide 2 Using Coffee Grounds: 500 sq ft " Kitchen Veg Garden " 250 lbs of seriously mixed; coffee grinds, egg shells and veg ink newsprint ( shredded and dampened down ) . Virtually Zero non-beneficial bugs, Excellent Yields...esp from our Black Currents, Rhubarb, Swiss Chard, Globe Radishes and Chives. I live in the Far East of the Western World. Where our wind and wave swept craggy coastline meets each new day 1st in the Western Hemisphere! Where, according to UNESCO, you can actually, ” Walk on the Centre of the Earth “. Come, see where the Osprey and Eagles soar above the haunting echos of the laughter and tales of our Ancient Peoples. Meet your inner self under the Dancing Ribbon of Light in the Big Land…the Land God gave to Cain. Eastern NL, Canada :)"
Richard on Monday 14 October 2019
"I love putting coffee grounds in my compost bin as it sets it going really well. I also sprinkle a bit on horse poo that I can also get for free as it cuts down the smell and the flys. I have used it in the cracks of brick paving. As in the article, it doesn't stop weeds or ants from getting through, but it looks great and makes using boiling water to control them much more effective. "
Ken Vickery on Thursday 24 October 2019
"Great tip about using coffee grounds to cover over manure Ken, thanks!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 29 October 2019
"Great article thank you! I mixed in a bucket of coffee grounds into my garden bed before planting my Californian Bell Peppers this year and it worked a treat! Best crop of peppers ever and my plants never looked back. I live in sunny Queensland in Australia and my pepper plants loved the extra nitrogen in the coffee grounds. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy 2020"
Paul on Saturday 30 November 2019
"Sounds like you've found the magic formula Paul! Best wishes for the festive season to you too."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 30 November 2019
"I use many 5 gallon buckets of coffee grounds in my garden. They are excellent to add to my high clay soil. I compost them, and put a thin layer down under my cardboard walkways. The cardboard gets topped with woodchips. Every few years, I use the walkways as new planting rows. The soil is not compacted, and very loamy indeed, full of worms and a nice layer of humus. I continue to sprinkle coffee grounds on my wood chip paths. I let the worms work them in for me. Untreated cardboard and coffee grounds ensure lots of worms. I also grow Oyster mushrooms in particular on CG, and dispose of the spent medium. Inevitably, I get flushes of mushrooms, right In my paths. They are a win/win proposition unless you put them on too thickly, or too close to new seedlings...a big no no. Potato beds. Potato hills are created the season before. 2.5 gallons goes in my prospective potato mound, about 6 months before I actually plant. They will be fully incorporated by time it is St Patty's Day. Perfectly loamy, not too high in Nitrogen, potato beds. Big, big tasty spuds. "
David Starnes on Sunday 22 December 2019
"should have more information. i have to do a science project and i cant use all of this, but more useful information would help."
Addisen Crawford on Thursday 16 January 2020
"I not only save my coffee grounds but also save coffee that is left over in the pot, I pour it in a large foldgers container and when it is full, out in the yard it goes. Sometimes on plants, other times on trees. Liquid fertalizer and here in Florida, we need all the help we can get to keep our soil in growning mode! "
Linda D. Foster on Sunday 19 January 2020
"I'm an old hand at gardening, being the daughter of a crop and truck patch farmer, but he's gone now and so is much of his wisdom. I'm just wondering if pine needles and pine needle mulch mixed with coffee grounds would be good, bad, both or neither? We use pine needles as mulch because we have plenty for flowers, herbs and vegetables. But I've never thought about combining the two until now. I've actually only used coffee grounds selectively and am thinking about using them more often and on more plants this year. What do y'all think?"
Laura on Tuesday 18 February 2020
"I don't see any problems with using them both together Laura. Since coffee grounds contain nitrogen it might speed up decomposition of the pine needles slightly, but I haven't tried this so can't say for sure. It may be worth trying it on a small area this year and seeing how it compares to areas mulched with just the pine needles."
Ann Marie hendry on Saturday 22 February 2020
"living in GA, we mulch w/ pine straw, and I've been adding coffee grounds for years - I of course go heavier near azaleas, and lighter on some bulbs, but in general, I put the coffee grounds everywhere (acid and non-acid loving). I think my coffee grounds (since I"m using them by the 8 cup full, no the commercial kitchen full) ;) are not making much of an impact in soil pH (I home test frequently). Rather, the biggest change I notice is worm count. Areas where I've skipped coffee ground treatment always have far fewer worms than areas where I spread regularly - never done an an official count of worms per sq ft or anything - just more observational when I'm digging things to plant/transplant - which I do more frequently than I should confess I suppose :) "
Lisa on Sunday 23 February 2020
"Thanks for sharing your experiences Lisa. Finding more worms in areas mulched with used coffee grounds would tally with anecdotal evidence from gardeners with worm farms who say their worms enjoy it. It sounds like the moderate amounts you're adding to your garden are just right for your worms and your soil."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 25 February 2020
"If this is the case how on earth have I just found a slug about 1cm long inside the waste coffee capsule box of my Nespresso coffee machine? It’s kept on my kitchen worktop all the time. How’d it get in there? Unbelievable!"
Sarah on Thursday 27 February 2020
"Well that about disproves the theory that slugs won't cross coffee grounds Sarah! And backs up the experiment linked to above that had the same findings. As to how it made its way into your coffee machine, I can only assume that particular slug has a serious caffeine habit!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 27 February 2020
"I live in QLD and have very sandy, quite crappy soil. During the past 6 months I have started using coffee grounds, fresh horse manure, chook manure, egg shells and mulched wattle trees in the compost bins. Approx. twelve months ago I planted 20 frangipani planted here and tried all manner of fertiliser on them and they just never took off. A combination of rain (we were in drought for 3 years) and compost has made everything grow incredibly well. Half of the frangipani flowered in spring 2019 and I am hoping that they all flower this coming spring."
Christine Schoenfisch on Tuesday 24 March 2020
"I've been piling used coffee grounds around the base of rhododendrons for a few years. Unfortunately, I seem to have built up too thick a layer, and it seems to act as a water shed. Two of the smaller rhodies are sad this year....I'll rake the coffee 'shell' away and work some into the ground. Hopefully that will save them."
Karen on Sunday 10 May 2020
"Sounds like a good plan Karen."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 12 May 2020
"I would like to add a comment about banana peels. I save them. One by one I put in a plastic bag in the freezer. When I have a few, I defrost, remove the stub and put in a blender with water. They are a great source of potassium. You can make it as think or thin as you like. Just add more water. I put it around all kinds of plants. Nice to be able to recycle/reuse something else. Anyone know anything about putting coffee grinds down to discourage rabbits?"
Tom Federlin on Wednesday 13 May 2020
"sprinkling crounds with a strainer over grass would that work better no clymbs"
willem heitlager79D3779D on Tuesday 19 May 2020
"I have had some success over the years using coffee grounds, egg shells and banana peels in my rose garden. Now I have a problem with RATS chewing the stalks off the rose bushes. There is so little information on the web about this problem. Do you think running a barrier around the rose bushes with coffee grounds will add protection? I don't know what to do. "
Kelly Nale on Wednesday 20 May 2020
"That's a new one on me Kelly - I've never heard of rats munching on rose bushes! Are you sure it's not rabbits? Either way, I doubt they'll be deterred by coffee grounds. A better option would be to encircle the bush with chicken wire or similar. It won't keep rats out but it will keep a lot of other nibblers at bay."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 20 May 2020
"Willem, you could use a garden sieve to spread your coffee grounds if you wanted to, or alternatively just rake them."
Ann Marie Hendry on Wednesday 20 May 2020
"This article is very helpful! I am a new gardener and a huge coffee drinker. You say not to put the coffee grounds on tomato plants. Can you put them on pepper plants or cantaloupe plants? Also, can I put eggshells on my plants? (My grandmother use to do that)"
Lorraine Irvine on Monday 25 May 2020
"Hi Lorraine, I don't see why you wouldn't use coffee grounds around tomato plants (unless another commenter above has advised that and I've missed it?). It should be fine around most plants in moderation. Eggshells can be used in the garden and will provide a small amount of calcium to plants. Type Using Eggshells in the Garden into the search box at the top of this page to find our article on the subject."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 26 May 2020
"I was gifted with a large can of decaf coffee, which i will never use. Can they be scattered in garden and yard as they are or should i just pour a kettle of hot water over them to be able to use.?"
Jan on Monday 1 June 2020
"That is also my question. If we have coffee grounds that will not be used, can they get sprinkled directly into the dirt or must they be brewed?"
Ellen on Tuesday 2 June 2020
"I have always dug coffee grounds right in the soil with other organic waste, i dident know wheter it was "right or wrong" but i done it anyway, now i know it has been the right thing all the time. "
BajsKarlsson on Tuesday 9 June 2020
"I think it would be fine to use unbrewed coffee grounds on the garden, although they may be slightly more acidic and contain more caffeine than brewed grounds - how much more I can't say, but unless you're using huge quantities I wouldn't worry too much about it. If you're unsure, mix them into your compost heap instead."
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 16 June 2020
"In past years I have fought squash bugs. I read that sprinkling coffee grounds around the plants will help with the squash bugs. This year (June 2020) is the first time trying insect control using coffee grounds. So far I have killed 2 adult squash bugs when in the past I would have killed 2 or more a day.. I check the undersides for eggs. I have found a few but only 4-6 eggs in the cluster and not the normal 12 or so. "
Debbie on Sunday 28 June 2020
"Hi from New Zealand. You certainly learn from experience. When I first started using spent coffee grounds about 4 years ago I spread it about 3cm thick on several patches of garden (daphne bush, roses, small bay tree) and it looked ever so lovely, dark brown and tidy. Then it rained - hilarious, it was as though I'd covered the garden with plastic as the 2 circular gardens turned into ponds. A bit of forking to break it up and the water soaked in. Now I mostly put it in the compost. I like to think I'm a Compost Queen - my 3-bin system was what my father used to use 70 or so years ago. EVERYTHING goes into the compost (in layers), it gets really hot and it gets turned regularly. I have a science degree but composting is just as much an art as science. I used to get lots of horse manure from the racetrack near us (it was mixed with untreated sawdust which was on the floor of the stables) but the racetrack got closed. Now I use blood and bone or sheep pellets - my compost can get up to 75 degrees C! The worms scuttle into the base then come up again as it cools. I also mow over prunings and small branches, leaves (including bamboo leaves) to add to the mix. I often put ash from the fire (no treated timber) as well. I use the resulting mix as a deep mulch over everything in the garden. In summer I can make a batch in about a week, it winter about 2 weeks, There's only 1 problem with my deep mulch - blackbirds!! Currently experimenting with old CDs hanging from fishing line on bamboo poles - it's keeping the birds off some newly planted seedlings. Back to the coffee grounds - I've got my neighbour onto it as well - looks better than his patches covered in cardboard over the winter. Tomorrow I'm going to fork extra coffee into the potato patch ready for planting at the end of July - new spuds late October! Cheers to all you gardeners out there. "
Heather on Monday 13 July 2020
"It sounds like you've experienced the same issue that others report Heather - a blanket of coffee grounds can form a hard pan that water struggles to penetrate. But raking/digging it in or adding it to your compost as you're doing works well. Glad to hear you're enjoying the benefits of this free soil improver!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Tuesday 14 July 2020
"I planted 12 new teddy bear magnolias in June (winter in Australia) this year. Straight away they started being attacked by snails and slugs, I did some research and discovered that snails and slugs do not like coffee and I’ve been sprinkling a thin layer of coffee grounds every 4 weeks. My magnolias are now increadibly healthy, leaves are green and glossy and they have doubled their size in 6 months. I have now started sprinkling around my veggies which are also growing well."
Jenny Riley on Saturday 14 November 2020
"I put coffee grounds on my new lawn and one month later I have dead patches everywhere that line up exactly with where I spread the coffee grounds. Maybe it is ok mixed as a mulch but be cafeful putting directly on a new lawn"
Bruce on Wednesday 30 December 2020
"Lots of good info on this site. I will try coffee grounds around my tulips to keep squirrels from biting off the flowers. Tried painting stem at base of flower with hot sauce last year, but the tulips did not like that! I will also put coffee grounds around hostas and in my vegetable gardens. I'm trying to get rid of an invasive plant in my flower beds. All bits of roots have to be removed or they will start new plants. After I dig out as much as I can find, I will pick up a bag of grounds at Starbucks and mix copious amounts into the soil to see if this helps the clay soil and keeps weeds away. Also, this year I will spread grounds around my squash plants to keep squirrels from nibbling at the squash. You'd think they would be grateful that I put out the squash seeds for them! "
Irene Schieberl on Thursday 6 May 2021
"I am trying to grow parsley seed in pots in coffee grounds + tea + roibos + other infusions dregs. I have added a little bicarbonate of soda. They have not germinated yet. Next time I will soak the seeds overnight. I will notify if any luck. "
Joseph Wilson on Thursday 3 June 2021
"Caffeine has been found to suppress germination Joseph, so coffee grounds and tea leaves may not be the best choice for seed sowing. I've tried sowing cress in used tea leaves myself as an experiment and found that germination was poor, and the seedlings that did come up had pale, yellowing leaves. Please do keep us posted on your results though!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 3 June 2021
"Living in Canaries, Fuerteventura, no soil! Or what there is, not good! So we have purchased loads of bags for pots etc, I have now acquired some coffee grounds locally. I just don’t know how to use it safely, obviously very few nutrients in the ground. I have no compost pile, we have leaf spot on some plants, I am trying hard to combat, so do not keep the garden stuff! Would it be best adding water to the grounds instead? Then pouring it around the plants ? A bit like manure in a bucket of water. "
Lynn Noreen McNamara Y4600402-W on Wednesday 16 June 2021
"Hi Lynn. You can just spread used coffee grounds on the soil surface, or mix it in using a rake or fork if you prefer. It's best to avoid using it where you will be sowing new plants however as the caffeine may inhibit germination."
Ann Marie Hendry on Thursday 24 June 2021
"Crikey, this coffee grounds info-sharing thread has been going since 2018 !! All so useful too, especially interesting hearing what gardeners coffee grounds experiences are from around the globe. In the north of england I've put up to 4lbs of grounds around the bases of various plants, just in a pile and have read here that's possibly not the best way to do it because of the water-holding thing so I need to take a bit more care and 'apply' it properly or mix it in with my compost OR my leaf mulch. That's a new one to me! Don't know why but I've always kept leaf mulch as a soil improver and have never thought to add anything else. Composting on the other hand is great fun and while I'd add tea leaves to it all day long I thought that I'd be wasting nutrient coffee grounds by over diluting them in the compost. Sounds daft now! What I will be trying tho' is adding grounds to my leaf mulch to make it more than just a soil improver. Am then going to try it as a top dressing on the lawn once it's had it's annual scarify and aeration. I know I can mix it all with my compost but the soil here is like clumpy rubble so I use compost on the beds and just leaf mulch on the lawn bcause that gets the proprietory weed and feeds in Spring/Summer. Thanks to whoever sent in that tip. I've been adding a lot more hair to my compost since the pandemic. Couldn't get to the hairdressers so multiple diy hair cut disasters now rotting down - want to see if the bottle-blond breaks down at the same rate as the grey it's supposed to cover! Sorry, that's got nothing to do with coffee grounds, lol."
Joules on Wednesday 21 July 2021
"I have read this whole thread of how using coffee grounds on various plants and veggies can improve growth etc. It was most interesting to read all comments. However, I did not see a single comment or tip from someone living in my neck of the woods, which is Southern California. Can anyone tell me if used coffee grounds are good to sprinkle around plants like bougainvillea, lantana, oleanders, succulents or cacti? These are the plants I have in my yard and I also have some orchid plants and palm trees like queen palms and Sago palms. Thanks for any help. "
Evelina Curzan on Thursday 23 September 2021
"BTW, I also have quite a few beautiful dragon fruit plants in huge pots outside, which are doing very well and produce gorgeous flowers every year, so I will leave them alone and not feed them coffee grounds :) "
Evelina Curzan on Thursday 23 September 2021
"I started reading from above, and met a similar situation (I'll read later all through). I HAVE a plot of land but currently making compost in a city environment, just for one plant, (philodendron monstera) using a bucket kind of a 5 gallon, somewhat smaller, as I plan to repot it. I don't drink coffee, so I (for the time being) asked one neighbor to collect her coffee and eggshells for me. But if I go to the local bar, I don't know what the bar tender's reaction will be "Please, leve me in peace, can't you see I'm working??" Hopefuly not. What I wonder is how to dry the used coffee, as, I live on groundfloor, no sunlight, literally. Maybe using blowdryer, or microwawe? The latter should be a new one as this one is old and barely heats. Electric oven? To spend electricity just because of a plant ? I should be mad to do it. Anyone with any idea how to dry the coffee, then ?"
Leo on Tuesday 16 November 2021
" How often should I use coffee grounds for my plans, I'm a beginner at taking care of plants. "
mari on Thursday 18 November 2021
"Hi Mari. They can be added in thin layers whenever is convenient. They'll gradually be taken down into the soil by worms and other soil organisms."
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 20 November 2021
"Hi From England! I have thrown my leftover coffee grounds onto the large trough outside my back door for the past 2 or 3 years. The grape vine loves them and we had a bumper crop this year - which the blackbirds are enjoying now! "
Wendy Elizabeth Florence Emblen on Friday 10 December 2021
"Hi from next door in Scotland Wendy! It's great to hear that your grapevine is enjoying its coffee fix. I hope you managed to get a few grapes before the birds swooped in though!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 10 December 2021
"Cork, Ireland - I collect large quantities of coffee grounds from a café every week for the last few years. I distribute and treat them as a green waste between both bin and outdoor composters. In 2021 I stared to use it in my bio reactors, so far all their use in composting have been beneficial in bulking up my material, worms like it, smells great and the end results are good. Also use cardboard, wood shavings, house/gardens food waste, greens and chicken poo - but coffee grounds are a big proportion of all my raw material - couldn't fault it! "
Pat Dunne on Friday 17 December 2021
"Great stuff Pat!"
Ann Marie Hendry on Saturday 18 December 2021
"Happy new year (2023) to all from Victoria Australia! Just discovered your article and thank you for all info! I’d just like to share that I’ve recently started to empty the coffee from the capsules and spread them onto flowering plants such as roses, hydrangeas etc and they are currently flowering profusely! I’ve also noted that flues and mosquitoes seem to be shying away from these areas and that’s a good thing - as mosquitos simply live my blood at all times . However, just this morning whilst sitting outdoors enjoying a coffee , I’ve also noted that there were no bees buzzing around ? Do you think that they would be affected too ? Thanks from Oz "
Antoinette on Thursday 12 January 2023
"Happy New Year Antoinette! Glad to hear your plants are doing so well. Bees pollinate coffee plants so I'd be surprised if the grounds bothered them in any way. In fact, I've read about bees occasionally collecting coffee grounds when other food is scarce - perhaps they enjoy the 'buzz' form the caffeine! "
Ann Marie Hendry on Friday 13 January 2023
"We collect our grounds and filters for the week, then on the weekend I dig areas in and near our garden/citrus trees. I turn the soil with the coffee grounds in the hole weekly for a couple reasons; to loosen the hard pack soil and to add nutrients. The dirt here in Arizona is very dry, dense and clay like (when it rains) so any additives and help are a benefit to our trees and dirt. Been doing this for a couple years now, I haven't really seen a direct benefit, but I also haven't seen a downside either, so hopefully the trees like it. I will say this, our dogs don't dig in the areas that the coffee is mixed with the soil, so I know dogs are not attracted to the grinds! I guess that is a benefit! Plus, I just like feeling like I'm actually gardening, ha! Just recently planted a rose bush and will incorporate grinds into its topsoil, based on the info from the comments here, thanks!"
C & V on Sunday 17 March 2024

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