Ask Mr. Burger – Can used coffee grounds be beneficial for my garden or lawn?
This question typically comes up this time of year when people are looking for ways to feed their plants more organically and be environmentally friendly. While we can’t say for sure how much benefit you actually get from the grounds; we can say that they offer some benefits to your garden and your lawn. We’ve included a couple articles on using coffee grounds by Amy Grant and Heather Rhoades for your reference.
Coffee Grounds As Lawn Fertilizer – How To Apply Coffee Grounds On Lawn
By Amy Grant
Just as the aroma and caffeine of a cup of Joe in the morning stimulates many of us, using coffee ground on grass can also stimulate healthier turf. It isn’t the caffeine that stimulates healthy grass growth, but rather the nitrogen, phosphorus and trace minerals that coffee grounds contain. These nutrients are released slowly, which is a big benefit over quick release synthetic fertilizers. The nutrients in coffee grounds are slowly broken down, allowing the turf to have a longer period of time to absorb them ensuring stronger turf for longer.
Using coffee grounds as lawn fertilizer is also good for the worms. They love coffee almost as much as we do. The earthworms eat the grounds and in return aerate the lawn with their castings, which breaks up the soil (aerates) and facilitates beneficial microbial activity, further stimulating lawn growth.
Improper synthetic fertilizer applications often result in lawn burn as well as contaminating our water via ground run off. Using coffee grounds as lawn fertilizer is an eco-friendly method for nourishing the lawn and it can be free or darn near so.
How to Apply Coffee Grounds on Lawns
When using coffee grounds on the grass you can save your own or hit up one of the multitude of coffee houses. Starbucks does indeed offer grounds gratis, but I am sure smaller coffee shops would be more than willing to save the grounds for you as well.
So how do you go about feeding lawns with coffee grounds? You can be super lazy and simply throw the grounds out onto the lawn and let the earthworms dig it into the soil. Don’t let the grounds completely cover up grass sprigs. Rake or sweep it out lightly so there aren’t any deep piles atop the grass. You can also use a bucket with holes punched through the bottom or a spreader to broadcast the grounds. Voila, can’t get much simpler than that. Reapply the coffee ground lawn fertilizer every month or two thereafter to promote a thick, green turf.
Composting With Coffee Grounds – Used Coffee Grounds For Gardening
By Heather Rhoades
Whether you make your cup of coffee daily or you have noticed your local coffee house has started to put out bags of used coffee, you may be wondering about composting with coffee grounds. Are coffee grounds as fertilizer a good idea? And how do coffee grounds used for gardens help or hurt?
Composting Coffee Grounds
Composting with coffee is a great way to make use of something that would otherwise end up taking up space in a landfill. Composting coffee grounds helps to add nitrogen to your compost pile. Composting coffee grounds is as easy as throwing the used coffee grounds onto your compost pile. Used coffee filters can be composted as well. If you will be adding used coffee grounds to your compost pile, keep in mind that they are considered green compost material and will need to be balanced with the addition of some brown compost material.
Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer
Used coffee grounds for gardening does not end with compost. Many people choose to place coffee grounds straight onto the soil and use it as a fertilizer. The thing to keep in mind is while coffee grounds add nitrogen to your compost, they will not immediately add nitrogen to your soil. The benefit of using coffee grounds as a fertilizer is that it adds organic material to the soil, which improves drainage, water retention and aeration in the soil. The used coffee grounds will also help microorganisms beneficial to plant growth thrive as well as attract earthworms.
Many people feel that coffee grounds lower the pH (or raise the acid level) of soil, which is good for acid loving plants. But this is only true for unwashed coffee grounds. “Fresh coffee grounds are acidic. Used coffee grounds are neutral.” If you rinse your used coffee grounds, they will have a near neutral pH of 6.5 and will not affect the acid levels of the soil.
To use coffee grounds as fertilizer, work the coffee grounds into the soil around your plants. Leftover diluted coffee works well like this too.
Coffee grounds can also be used in your garden for other things –
- Many gardeners like to use used coffee grounds as a mulch for their plants.
- Other used for coffee grounds include using it to keep slugs and snails away from plants. The theory is that the caffeine in the coffee grounds negatively affects these pests and so they avoid soil where the coffee grounds are found.
- Some people also claim that coffee grounds on the soil is a cat repellent and will keep cats from using your flower and veggie beds as a litter box.
- You can also use coffee grounds as worm food if you do vermicomposting with a worm bin. Worms are very fond of coffee grounds.
Using Fresh Coffee Grounds
We get lots of questions about using fresh coffee grounds in the garden. While it’s not always recommended, it shouldn’t be a problem in some situations.
- For instance, you can sprinkle fresh coffee grounds around acid-loving plants like azaleas, hydrangeas, blueberries, and lilies. Many vegetables like slightly acidic soil, but tomatoes typically don’t respond well to the addition of coffee grounds. Root crops, like radishes and carrots, on the other hand, respond favorably – especially when mixed with the soil at planting time.
- The use of fresh coffee grounds are thought to suppress weeds too, having some allelopathic properties, of which adversely affects tomato plants. Another reason why it should be used with care. That being said, some fungal pathogens may be suppressed as well.
- Sprinkling dry, fresh grounds around plants (and on top of soil) helps deter some pests same as with used coffee grounds. While it doesn’t fully eliminate them, it does seem to help with keeping cats, rabbits and slugs at bay, minimizing their damage in the garden. As previously mentioned, this is thought to be due to the caffeine content.
- In lieu of the caffeine found in fresh, unbrewed coffee grounds, which can have an adverse effect on plants, you may want to used decaffeinated coffee or only apply fresh grounds minimally to avoid any issues.
Coffee grounds and gardening go together naturally. Whether you are composting with coffee grounds or using used coffee grounds around the yard, you will find that coffee can give your garden as much of a pick me up as it does for you.
Check out the website, “Gardening Know How” at https://www.gardeningknowhow.com for additional information on this topic and others concerning your lawn and garden.