How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds Into Natural Fertilizer

How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds Into Natural Fertilizer

How to Upcycle Used Coffee Grounds Into Natural Fertilizer


Coffee grounds are often treated as waste and thrown away. However, used coffee grounds can provide an excellent source of natural fertilizer and help your plants thrive.

Upcycling used coffee grounds into fertilizer is an easy and environmentally-friendly way to reduce food waste while improving your garden soil and plant growth. In this article, I’ll explain the benefits of using coffee grounds as fertilizer and provide a step-by-step guide on how to apply used coffee grounds in your garden.

Benefits of Using Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Here are some of the main benefits of using coffee grounds as a natural fertilizer:

  • Rich in nitrogen – Coffee grounds contain high levels of nitrogen which is one of the main nutrients plants need to grow. This makes it an excellent fertilizer, especially for nitrogen-loving plants like tomatoes, peppers, and greens.

  • Increases soil acidity – The acids present in coffee grounds help lower the pH level of soil. This can help certain plants that prefer slightly acidic soil, like azaleas, blueberries, and rhododendrons.

  • Improves soil structure – As coffee grounds break down, they add organic matter to the soil which improves drainage, aeration and the ability of the soil to retain water.

  • Attracts earthworms – Worms are drawn to the smell and organic nature of coffee grounds. Worms in turn help aerate and enrich soil.

  • Repels pests – Coffee grounds repel slugs and snails. Spreading grounds around your plants can help deter these garden pests naturally.

How to Use Coffee Grounds as Fertilizer

Gathering Used Coffee Grounds

The first step is gathering used coffee grounds. Here are some tips:

  • Check with local coffee shops and cafes to see if they can set some grounds aside for you each day. Many places are happy to avoid the extra waste.

  • Collect grounds from your daily coffee pot at home. Let them dry for a day or two before using.

  • Ask family members, friends or neighbors who drink coffee to save their used grounds for you.


There are a couple ways to apply used coffee grounds as fertilizer:

Mix into soil

  • Mix dried coffee grounds directly into the top few inches of garden soil or potted plants. You can either sprinkle them lightly over the entire area or concentrate heavier amounts around specific plants.

  • For best results, mix 1-2 tablespoons of grounds per square foot of soil.

Layer as mulch

  • Spread used grounds in a thin, even layer around plants to use as mulch.

  • Refresh the grounds every few weeks as they decompose.

  • Mulching with grounds helps retain soil moisture and suppresses weed growth.

Compost accelerator

  • Add coffee grounds to your compost pile or bin. The grounds provide carbon, nitrogen and other nutrients to help speed up the composting process.

  • Mix used grounds into your compost pile and keep it moist. The ideal carbon to nitrogen ratio is 25 to 1. Grounds are about 20% nitrogen.

Tips for Using Coffee Grounds

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Use grounds in moderation – While grounds are a great fertilizer, too much can make soil overly acidic.

  • Avoid using grounds from coffee that contained flavors, sweeteners or creamers as they may contain chemicals. Plain black coffee grounds are best.

  • Water your plants after applying used grounds to help them absorb nutrients.

  • Pair grounds with a nitrogen-rich compost like grass clippings or fruit and vegetable scraps.

  • Don’t put whole coffee beans or grounds in the compost pile as they will take a long time to break down.


Reusing coffee grounds is an inexpensive, low-effort way to boost your garden. Their blend of nutrients can help fertilize plants naturally. Work used coffee grounds into your soil or compost to unlock their fertilizer potential. With the right application, you can upcycle spent grounds into an effective organic fertilizer your plants will appreciate.