Are Coffee Grounds Good for the Garden?

Are Coffee Grounds Good for the Garden?

young salad

It’s a Tuesday morning and you could have used a couple extra hours of sleep. What’s your first move? Probably to brew a pot of coffee. A wonderful choice truly, but what to do with those leftover coffee grounds? Are coffee grounds good for the garden? Let’s find out.

Coffee Grounds as a Fertilizer

Used coffee grounds can make for great fertilizer in your garden if used correctly. There are ways to use coffee grounds correctly and incorrectly. Grounds may be harmful or helpful depending on the plant and whether or not the grounds are used or fresh. Certain plants can actually be fertilized by fresh coffee grounds because they thrive on the acidity. Below I will list the do’s and don’ts of using coffee grounds, used or otherwise, in your garden as a fertilizer.


  • Sprinkle the coffee grounds onto the top layer of soil and leave them. Scratching them into the top couple inches of soil works wonders as well.
  • Do this in small amounts because this way the grounds will release their nitrogen. Especially when mixed with dry materials.
  • Fresh coffee grounds may suppress weeds from growing in your soil, but be cautious as the acidity can harm some plants.


  • Do not use fresh coffee grounds unless you are certain about what plants like coffee grounds and their acidity.
  • Do not use large amounts of coffee grounds for fertilizer as it can clump up much like clay and stop your garden from getting the water that it needs.
  • Be very careful using coffee grounds as a fertilizer if you have an inquisitive dog as caffeine is a harmful substance for our furry friends.
  • Do not use coffee grounds on seeds or seedlings as it could potentially slow or halt the growth of your new plants.

Using Coffee Grounds in Compost

If you came to this page looking for the question “are coffee grounds good for the garden?” The answer is a resounding yes! Coffee contains a promising amount of nitrogen as well as potassium and phosphorus as well as other nutrients. Coffee may also repel some animals and pests from disrupting you garden such as cats and slugs. But there are dangers associated with its usage. For starters fresh coffee can be quite acidic so it should not be used around plants like broccoli, radish and leeks. It can also clump up in your garden much like clay, restricting the water that your plants need. For these reasons it is best to employ used coffee grounds mixed in with other helpful ingredients into a mulch or compost before implementing in your garden.

person touching cup of coffee and plate with food

How to Create Compost at Home

Despite their color coffee grounds are actually a green material. Meaning coffee grounds will add nitrogen to your soil. Nitrogen is vital for your plants growth. Coffee grounds aren’t the only household material that can be added to your compost. Nitrogen is not the only important nutrient in a compost. Below i will list the basics of creating a mulch at home and link to a YouTube video that goes into more depth.

The Basics

  • A ratio of 4 to 1 brown materials to green materials is essential (brown materials release carbon into the compost) or the pile will not heat up and may smell unpleasant.
  • To make things easier on yourself you can also purchase a composting starter kit
  • Brown materials can be household items such as newspaper or dry leaves
  • Insects that munch and mix your materials is important to your compost’s success
A great guide to creating your own compost at home!

Coffee Grounds as a Liquid Fertilizer

Another use for coffee grounds in your garden is to make them into a sort of “tea”. Add 2 cups of used coffee grounds to a 4 or 5 gallon bucket of water. Let the grounds soak in the water overnight, and boom you have yourself a little homemade fertilizer! You can also use the liquid as a foliar spray.

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