Making Your Garden Beautiful With Used Coffee Grounds

Making Your Garden Beautiful With Used Coffee Grounds

I’ve always known that coffee is magical. Well, if not magical, then close to it. I’m a writer, after all, and I’m pretty sure that writers uphold at least half the coffee industry’s sales. But this also means that we dump tons of used coffee grounds into the garbage on a daily basis. Now, coffee grounds by themselves are not bad for the environment — in fact, I’m going to tell you how to use them in your yard in a minute — but they do contribute to landfill bulk. Ever the social beverage, coffee mingles with other waste in stinky piles of trash to create methane, which we all know is a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. So instead of just chucking the grounds into the garbage, try something a little different next time.

When you’re done with your first pot of coffee of the day (oh, you only have one pot of coffee a day? … well, okay then), you will have a bunch of perfect mineral-rich grounds with which you can infuse greatness into your garden. The strong smell of coffee that we coffee lovers enjoy has the opposite effect on insects that are bad for your flowers. Not only do coffee grounds repel slugs and ants, they also discourage neighborhood cats from digging in your flowerbeds. So, mound the stuff up around your favorite plants to prevent pests of the slimy, stingy or fluffy sort.

If you’re growing hydrangeas, use coffee grounds to affect their color. Coffee grounds add extra acidity to the soil around hydrangeas. On a chemical level, this increased acidity makes it easier for the plant to absorb naturally occurring aluminum in the dirt. The effect is pretty blue clusters of flowers. Although coffee won’t affect the vibrancy of the flowers — pale blue flowers will remain pale blue, for instance — coffee grounds let you play with the color to change pinker blossoms into various hues of blue, or maybe a shade of purple in between.

Seedlings thrive off the nitrogen content in coffee, so give them a boost by making a natural fertilizer from the grounds. Make a “tea” of coffee grounds by adding a quarter cup of grounds to four or five gallons of water. Let the mixture sit overnight then pour it over all of your plants the next morning for a nutrient boost.

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  1. Wow Megan–I knew that coffee grounds were beneficial and have used them in the soil of my indoor plants but you have made me see what other great uses they can be saved for. Thank you for posting them here. I’ll keep all your great ideas for coffee grounds in mind after I am done using them to make coffee.

    1. Hi Sue,
      I honestly had no idea that coffee grounds are as useful as they are! I think I could go on for days about their uses. Another fun tip: used coffee grounds can be used as scratch repair on your furniture. So instead of those wood stain pens, try rubbing some moist, used coffee grounds into the scratch. Let me know if you find other uses!

  2. So raising the acidity of the soil won’t hurt the plants, such as other flowers or veggies?

    1. Great question, Lauren!

      So I did a little research for you. The optimum acidity for most plants is at a pH of 5.5 to 7.0. Anything above 7.0 is considered alkaline, and anything below is acidic. So, soil is acidic already. Coffee grounds, on average, hit about a 6.9 on the pH scale. So, it’s not going to drop the soil acidity so much that it will hurt the plants, but just enough to – in the case of hydrangeas – let the plants absorb some aluminum to affect the color. Hope this helps!

      Thanks for reading.

  3. my 89 yr old born-in-seattle mom learned to dump out her coffee grounds on her rhododendrons. if you transplanted the native, local species to your own home you’d need to add soil nutrition. in this case, coffee!

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