When you're done using your coffee grounds, don't throw them out! Coffee grounds can be repurposed and used for your gardening needs. Instead of going out and purchasing mulch or fertilizer, reach for this morning's coffee grounds. Here are ways you can re-use old coffee grounds.

Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

man holding fertlizer

Like traditional fertilizer, coffee grounds contain a great deal of nitrogen, an essential nutrient for plants that helps to convert sunlight into energy. In addition, coffee grounds are rich in potassium, phosphorus, and other micronutrients. The amount and concentration of these nutrients in coffee grounds vary but they can be used as a slow-release fertilizer. Using coffee grounds as a fertilizer adds organic material to your soil which improves water retention, drainage, and aeration. Your old coffee grounds also help microorganisms essential to plant growth flourish. Additionally, they help attract earthworms, who helps the soil become more nutrient-rich by breaking down dead plant materials.

Another benefit of using coffee grounds as fertilizer is its acidity. Moreover, they help to increase the pH of soil which is especially attractive for acid-loving plants like azaleas, gardenias, catnip, magnolias, and hibiscus. For this, it's best to use unwashed coffee grounds for used coffee grounds are neutral and will not affect the pH of the soil.

Use Coffee Grounds as Mulch


Many gardeners advise against using coffee grounds directly on the soil as it can have some negative effects. One of the main reasons for the catastrophic results is the caffeine content in coffee grounds which is said to stunt plant growth and reduce competition for space, nutrients, water, and sunlight. Therefore, overdoing it on the coffee grounds can result in slowed plant growth, leaf yellowing, inhibition of seedling germination. To prevent this, it is recommended that you spread a very thin layer on top of the soil and avoid using it on top of seedlings.

In addition, coffee grounds contain ultrafine particles that are prone to clump together, and this can form a barrier that locks out water. As a result, your plants can die from thirst. To avoid the negative effects coffee grounds have on your plants, mix them with an organic material like compost or leaf mold before using it as mulch. Also, rake the coffee grounds into the top layer of the soil so they don't clump together.

Use Coffee Grounds as a Natural Repellant

bugs on white flower petal

Some have found success using coffee grounds as a natural pest repellent. Given their acidity, coffee grounds are great for deterring ants because they damage their exoskeletons. Also, coffee grounds can be used to keep slugs and snails at bay for the caffeine has a negative effect on them. Coffee grounds not only keep insects away but cats as well. If you have a problem with the local stray cats eating plants from your garden, just sprinkle coffee grounds around plants to keep them away.

Use Coffee Grounds as a Weed Killer


Since coffee grounds have some allelopathic properties, they make for an environmentally friendly weed killer. They help to maintain high temperatures to kill weeds and other pathogens. Usually, four to five cups of spent coffee grounds are enough to prevent weeds for three to four plants.

Use Coffee Grounds in Your Compost

compost pile

Throwing coffee grounds in your compost pile is a much wiser choice than tossing it in the trash. Coffee grounds add nitrogen to your compost. Additionally, they help maintain heat inside the pile by producing an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and helps to manage the pile's moisture level.

Compost consists of two mixes of ingredients that usually fall under two classifications: green and brown. Green materials like coffee grounds and eggshells are high in nitrogen and brown materials like dry leaves and wood shavings are high in carbon. The ideal ratio to brown and green is 25:1.

Additional Uses for Coffee Grounds

jar of coffee grounds

Old coffee grounds aren't only good for gardening but you can use it around the house as well. Coffee grounds can be used for:

  • Masking odors. All you have to do is sit out used or fresh grounds to eliminate lingering odors.
  • Barbecue Rub. Coffee grounds can be used as a dry rub or as an addition to barbecue mix. Many people use them to add a smoky flavor.
  • Skin *Exfoliator***.** Lastly, coffee grounds can be used to beautify your skin. Coffee grounds make for a great body scrub and can even reduce the appearance of cellulite.

Where to Get Coffee Grounds

free coffee grounds at starbucks

If you don't use enough coffee grounds to use for gardening or household needs, don't worry there are many places to get used coffee grounds, for free! Most coffee shops will offer spent coffee grounds at no cost to you. In fact, you can go down to your nearest Starbucks and ask for coffee grounds.

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