Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds in Your Garden

using coffee grounds in your garden

Photo Compliments of Doug Beckers

Using coffee grounds in your garden as a fertilizer is a great way add nitrogen while you are using something that would otherwise take up space in a landfill.

Sheet Mulch

The majority of my grounds get dumped out, directly on the soil, as sheet mulch around plants.  My rule of thumb is to use a good half-inch thick layer atop the normal organic mulch.  The grounds break down relatively quickly as worms and soil microbes go to work, and as this happens I add additional amounts over time.

Side-dressing for Heavy Feeders

Coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, at about 10%. Depending on the exact beans and extraction process, the carbon to nitrogen ratio of coffee grounds can be as low as 11:1, which is an ideal ratio for plant and soil nutrition.  With nitrogen levels like that, pure coffee grounds make an excellent side-dressing for my leafy greens and hungry fruiting vegetables, like tomatoes, spinach, and squash, early in their growth cycle.

Natural Slug Deterrent

I use coffee grounds formed into uniform circles around the plants most susceptible to slugs as seedlings…I still use Sluggo here in my Pacific Northwest garden, but I believe this helps.


If you are composting using various worms you’ll find that adding coffee grounds has some major advantages for this process.

Suppression of Fungal Diseases

The natural mold and fungus colonies on coffee appear to suppress some common fungal rots and wilts, including Fusarium, Pythium, and Sclerotinia according to research.  Incorporating coffee grounds into the compost does help to prevent build-up of nasty verticulum and fusarium wilt.

Where can I Get Coffee Grounds for My Garden

Local independent coffee shop will save back grounds if you ask, and chains like Starbucks and McDonalds will make them available for patrons in special displays.

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  1. Interesting! I have always spread coffee grounds on the flower beds without knowing how beneficial they can be.

  2. Do tea leaves have the same benefit I wonder? I’m not a coffee drinker.

  3. I’ve added some grounds to my houseplants with good results!

  4. Charlie I am not much of a gardener but this is very fascinating. What a great idea for coffee shops to make available their grounds for the purpose!

  5. I usually just dump our coffee grounds into the compost bin. After reading this however, I think I will start using them as a side dressing for plants. Great information!

  6. I’ve just started using coffee grounds. They are free from my local supermarket and slugs do seem to avoid them. Thanks for the information.

  7. I love coffee but I’ve never done anything with the grounds. I live in an apartment and don’t have a garden, but I imagine it would work as a fertilizer with pot plants too. (Slugs are not such a problem where I live. They can’t get up to my apartment because the can’t reach the buttons in the elevator.)
    Bun Karyudo recently posted..Tidying Up Isn’t NeatMy Profile

  8. Such a great idea, look forward to trying this out.

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