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Tip Time: What to do with Coffee Grounds

be sustainable: how to use your coffee & tea grounds


  • Sprinkle coffee grounds around plants to deter slugs and snails.
  • Coffee grounds are an ideal and economical soil amendment.  The grounds act as a slow release fertilizer with some of the nutrients available immediately and other nutrients available over a period of time.
  • Earthworms love coffee grounds so they further condition the soil.
  • Apparently cats don’t like the smell of coffee, so sprinkle coffee grounds liberally in areas where they may be using your garden as their potty.
  • Acid loving plants (such as azaleas, rhododendrons for instance) will benefit from digging coffee grounds in the soil or adding to the mulch.
  • Add extra coffee grounds to your compost pile to be incorporated and ‘diluted’ so they end up being suitable as well for non-acid loving plants.
  • Add coffee grounds around blueberries, cane fruit such as raspberries, and fruit trees.
  • Because coffee grounds are high in nitrogen, they can also be raked into the lawn though I’d rather use it on the shrubs and garden area first.
  • For the same reason (high in nitrogen), it’s a good idea adding coffee grounds early in the season to some of the heavy feeders in the vegetable garden (think any of the squash family, tomatoes, sunflowers, etc.).

PS: If you are still using paper coffee filters (why not use the permanent, washable filter and save money and trees?) toss the filters into your compost bin and not the garbage.

WHERE to Get Coffee Grounds:

Did you know your local Starbucks bags-up their grounds and they are pleased to give them away (free) — all you have to do is ask.  Don’t forget about your local coffee shops — they too are willing to save grounds (you may be asked to provide a small compost pail or counter-top bin for them to save them in).  If you have a coffee maker in your workplace or coffee room, ask your co-workers to save the grounds for you. As long as you pick up / remove the grounds regularly without having to be asked, all these sources will be happy to do this for you.

And, of course, the other place to source coffee grounds is right at home. The only thing I will caution against is using any of the flavoured coffees. Those contain synthetics, oils, and artificial flavourings. If you only brew flavoured coffee then toss the grounds in your composter and not directly into the soil.

Of Note:

I understand that the concentration of coffee can be harmful or make a dog sick. So if your dog starts eating up the grounds (can’t imagine why), simply work the grounds into the soil. My dogs don’t touch the coffee grounds and I have them all over my yard and am constantly replenishing certain areas.

How easy is that?

how to use your coffee grounds

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lisa - April 5, 2014 - 1:38 pm

What a great post this is, Diane. I knew very little about this, and you can bet I am going to start saving my coffee grounds, and get them into the garden this year.

Thank you so much!!!

Susan - April 6, 2014 - 10:15 am

Thanks for spreading the word. Our Tim Hortons has about a dozen large rubbermaids they fill with coffee grounds. The public pick up the bin, take it home, use the grounds and return the clean bin to TH. I love the element of trust and respect.

Susan - April 9, 2014 - 9:46 pm

Great ideas, thanks for sharing, Diane!

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