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Improve Your Garden With Used Coffee Grounds

written by: Kantha Wijeratne•edited by: Niki Fears•updated: 5/23/2011

Used coffee grounds contain nutrients in the form of nitrogen and other minerals. They can be reused in various ways to help improve your garden. Learn more about this low-cost way to beautify your garden.

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    Are you a coffee lover as well as an avid gardener? If so, there is an extremely beneficial way to combine your twin interests. Used coffee grounds can be used to beautify and improve your garden. The chemical constituents of coffee grounds provide a rich blend of nutrients for your plants at no extra cost.

    Coffee grounds have a Carbon to Nitrogen ratio of 20:1 making it an important source of Nitrogen for the green part of your compost mix. Coffee grounds contain nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and sulfur. They are slightly acidic having a pH of 6.9. This is why it is a good soil enhancer for plants such as roses, azaleas, pines, hydrangeas, blueberries and evergreens that thrive on acidic soil. You can improve your garden to yield greener leaves, brighter flowers and more luscious fruits by applying used coffee grounds in several different ways.

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    Ways to Improve Your Garden By Re-using Coffee Grounds

    As a compost amendment: Coffee grounds can be used in the green part of your compost bin while straw, wood chips or dry leaves make up the brown part. Add a teaspoon of lime or wood ash for every 5 lbs of coffee in your compost pile. It will help neutralize the acidity created by the coffee grounds. For the same reason, used coffee grounds should not exceed 25% of your composting material. Coffee grounds generate heat that allows for quicker decomposing. The resulting “black gold" is a natural fertilizer that can be used to improve your garden.

    Adding used coffee grounds to your composting mix helps protect the environment as well. Coffee grounds thrown out as trash ends up in landfills where they break down without air and generate methane, a toxic green house gas.

    As a soil enhancer: Newly Used coffee grounds can be scattered around plants to enrich the soil. A thin layer is best as thick, wet coffee grounds can get moldy. Apply just before watering or before rain is expected for maximum benefit. The nitrogen will seep slowly in to the soil providing a nutrient essential for plant growth. Coffee Beans 

    As an addition in worm composting: Used coffee grounds can also work wonders in worm composting. Worms love the acidic flavor of coffee grounds. Their movement through the compost mix helps to aerate it well. Add lime or crushed egg shells to neutralize the mix. The resulting compost will help to improve the quality of flowers and fruits in your garden.

    As a mulch: A mix of wood chips or saw dust and used coffee grounds applied as a mulch prevents a crust forming around your plants. It helps to control soil moisture, aerate the soil and provide nutrients required for plant growth and garden improvement.

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    As a liquid fertilizer: Another way to improve your garden is to use ½ a lb of wet coffee grounds in 5 gallons of water. For best results, allow the coffee to steep for one day. Your plants will love this coffee flavored water.

    As a dry fertilizer: Used coffee grounds can also be dried and stored for later use in a sealed container. Spread the wet grounds on a sheet of newspaper to dry and to prevent fermenting. The dried coffee grounds can be used to good effect if used within three weeks.

    To ward off pests: There is a belief among gardeners that the scent released from coffee grounds help to keep pests away. It is a safe and low cost way to protect your garden from snails and slugs.

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    Where Can You Get Used Coffee Grounds?

    Collecting used coffee grounds from your morning brew alone may not be sufficient if you plan to use it to improve your garden. Inquire from your local Starbucks outlet or deli about used coffee grounds. Most provide it for free when requested. You can also ask friends to save theirs for you and reward them later with the bounty from your garden.

    Note that both regular and decaffeinated grounds can be used to improve your garden. Choose unbleached coffee filters that can also go in to your compost mix. Used coffee grounds from organically grown coffee helps ensure that your compost mix is free of harmful chemicals.

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    Recycled as fertilizer, used coffee grounds can save you money and help protect the environment. They can improve the quality of leaves and flowers in your garden and provide bountiful crops of fruit. Share your love of coffee with your garden. You will be amazed with the results.

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    Image Credits:

    Coffee Beans -

    Hydrangeas -