Coffee Grinds On My Lawn

May 17, 2007

I’ve started spreading used coffee grinds on my lawn to help increase the organic matter in the soil.

Starbuck’s has a program called Grounds For Your Garden where they give free used coffee grounds to anyone who asks, to be used as a soil amendment. I decided to trek around to see how well this program worked and how much coffee grounds I could actually get.

I felt kind of weird about going into my favourite coffee shop and asking for their leftovers, however, when I went in to the Starbucks at Metcalfe and Slater the guy didn’t even miss a beat. He emptied out the espresso machines into a bin, pulled out the plastic bag and gave me about 6 lbs. of used coffee grinds. He said the best time to come by is after their morning and afternoon rushes. I’ve been back there a few times and have been “rewarded” with at least 6 lbs. of grounds each time.

I decided to check out other Starbucks shops to see if they give out their grounds. The staff at the Starbucks at the Lord Elgin Hotel gave me a funny look and said they just toss their coffee grinds in with their regular garbage (boo!). The staff at the Starbucks at Pinecrest Chapters told me that they had already given some grounds to a woman earlier in the evening, however, they gave me whatever they had left (yay!). The girl at the Starbucks in the Chapters at Blair and Ogilvie told me they don’t usually give them out and didn’t even have a bag to put them in but they could give it to me in a paper gift bag if I really wanted them (boo!).

So, it seems like not all Starbucks are towing the company line with their environmental initiatives. You’ll just have to check your local Starbucks to see who’s being environmentally friendly and who is not.

On a whim, I went to the Second Cup at Metcalfe and Slater and found out that they are not set up to collect used coffee grounds, however, they’ve had a few people asking for them and they are now considering setting up a system. Who knows, maybe someday even Tim Horton’s will consider this type of program.

Here’s one-day’s haul, about 30 lbs., from three different Starbuck’s locations.

Then I dump them into the bottom worm bin I’m no longer using (Long live the worms!).

Starbucks only gives away their used espresso coffee grinds that they dump out from the espresso machine. Some are broken down and some are still in a “puck” form.

Wear gloves, preferably ones you don’t care about, as spreading these grounds is a very pungent process. I like the smell of coffe, however, spreading this thinly over my lawn makes my hands, shoes and lawn smell like a venti quad ristretto espresso. I spread some last night while the grass was still wet from the rain. I’m still debating if that was the right move or not – if I had spread it when it was dry it would have settled into the thatch layers instead of sticking to the blades of grass. I think I should have waited.

If the coffee grinds are still sticking to the blades of grass, I might go around later tonight and spray it down into the thatch layer. Here you can kind of see it at a distance in the upper right-hand corner:

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13 Responses to “Coffee Grinds On My Lawn”


  1. I do exactly the same thing with the coffee grinds. Our neighbour’s daughter used to work at Starbucks and she brought us loads of grinds and said that it wasn’t unusual for people to ask for them. We also dump out the contents of our own coffee pot every morning.


  2. I am interested to know how it works for you. My lawn needs help!

  3. Catherine Says:

    I’ve been using coffee grounds as both mulch and fertilizer for two years now. I’ve learned you need to stamp down those “pucks” that are the remnants of the expresso expelling. If you don’t, they sort of sit there becoming slowly less formed but not necessarily doing any good. It’s not as if I’m finding worms underneath them.

    On the vegetable beds I used the grounds on the last two years I can no longer turn the soil without killing a lot of worms. You’ll be very pleased with the results.


  4. [...] Starbucks in my vicinity for used coffee grinds to fling on my flower beds as a fertilizer. As with last year, some locations are better than others for picking up [...]

  5. Leslie Corzine Says:

    I just got started using the coffee grinds on my lawn and noticed they dont break down very easily. so had to water it alot to have in break down. the reuslts are yet to be seen..


  6. Frankly, I doubted the usefulness of applying coffee grounds but I was wrong.

    Their effectiveness is really obvious when I apply them to places that have never been amended or planted.
    The next time I get around to that spot, the ground can be dug with a trowel.

    The household coffee grounds go to the worms. When I get around to going to Starbucks, those valuable grounds go on new beds.


  7. [...] increase the organic matter in your soil and in the past I’ve flung used coffee grinds on my lawn and in my flower [...]


  8. I have spread coffee grinds on our lawn and our Azaleas for years with excellent results. & this is in a poor, sandy, root infested lawn…

  9. paul Says:

    dear readers, I have a question. Can you put the coffee grinds on the lawn throughout the year, even in the winter? Can you conserve them throughout the winter without them losing any of their compost value? Thanks, Paul

  10. sue green Says:

    you can purchase oyster mushroom spawn from Fungi Perfect and grow it on used coffee grinds. I grew some last winter using the coffee grinds I schlepped home on the bus from work and the mushrooms were delicious!

  11. shanegenziuk Says:

    Paul – if you dry them out in the sun for a few days, they will store for about 6 months without any sign of reduced effectiveness. If you want to learn more about using coffee grounds for gardening (in addition to this excellent article), check out my site http://groundtoground.org

  12. Grrreeat Says:

    Thanks for letting us know about the Star Bucks coffee grinds project. There is a new Second Cup store on Montreal Rd. @ Bathgate. I will ask them. -Grreeat

  13. espressoguru Says:

    Hmm, I have never heard of doing this before, but I am going to give it a try, as our lawn is looking very bad at the moment, and with summer coming it will get worse if I dont start looking after it. Will let you know what results I get. Thanks for the tip.


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