Throwing your coffee grounds and filters into the trash just sends them into the ever-growing landfills around America. Even though they eventually degrade, it would be great if you could just toss these used items into your garden or compost bin and give them another purpose.
Composting your coffee grounds and filters is a great way to limit what you send over to the landfill. In fact, the 2% nitrogen in your coffee grounds could activate photosynthesis and plant growth in your own garden. And, as long as your coffee filters stay wet, they’ll degrade in less than a year.
Before you learn about how to compost your coffee grounds and filters, you want to make sure that this makes sense for you and your garden. So, let’s review everything you need to know about coffee grounds, filters, and composting.
Coffee Grounds, Coffee Filters & Compost
One of the biggest misconceptions is that composting is only useful if you grow crops on a farm or if you have your own garden. What you might not know is that compost can eventually be added to the soil in your garden or your lawn to improve plant health.
Here’s why composting is so important:
- It can supply your plants and flowers with the nutrients they might be lacking.
- It improves the soil structure to make growing plants a breeze.
- It lowers the risk of plant decay, disease, or destruction.
Now that we know why composting can be useful, it’s time to figure out the role that coffee grounds and filters play in this process.
The Time Needed to Degrade
Throwing discarded food items into your compost bin is the easy part. The hard part is actually waiting for these items and foods to decay enough until they can actually be used as a fertilizer in your garden or on your lawn.
So, just how long does it take coffee grounds and filters to degrade?
The good news is that coffee filters only take a little over six months to degrade. This process can be sped up even further if you work to keep the compost pile as moist as possible during the degradation process.
What’s even more impressive is the time it takes coffee grounds to degrade. For the most part, you’re looking at just a few short months until they join the rest of your compost pile and can be added to your garden or lawn.
Since they both degrade rather quickly, you can easily chuck your coffee grounds and coffee filters into your compost bin along with your discarded fruits and vegetables.
What They Do for the Environment
There’s no doubt about it: Composting is a little complicated.
First, you have to throw the discarded food or items into the compost bin. Then, you have to wait weeks, months, or maybe even years to have these items fully degrade to the point where they’re usable.
You’d hope that waiting so long gives you pretty good benefits, right? Well, coffee grounds and coffee filters are quite unique in regards to the benefits they can provide to your garden or lawn.
So, just what are these benefits exactly?
Let’s take a good look.
- Coffee grounds can add nitrogen to your soil. The fact that coffee grounds have about 2% nitrogen makes them essential to improving the growth of your garden and lawn. A little extra nitrogen can boost plant growth and leave you with a healthier, fuller harvest.
- They’re pretty neutral. The problem with composting is that it might end up making your soil more acidic or alkaline. Since some plants thrive in acidic soil while others prefer alkaline, it’s best that you use a neutral compost source like coffee grounds whenever possible.
- Coffee filters can improve oxygen content. Though the plants in your garden won’t necessarily need oxygen to survive, your compost pile does. By adding coffee filters to your compost pile, you can help to improve the quality of your compost.
Though these benefits might not strike you as impressive, they’re much better than adding absolutely no compost at all.
Are Coffee Filters and Grounds Considered a Green or a Brown?
When you do a little research into composting, you’ll find two terms thrown around quite frequently: Green and brown.
Though these might just seem like buzz words used by those in the gardening industry, you need to actually understand what these terms mean to use these concepts properly. If done correctly, this can greatly improve the health and success of your garden.
Although coffee grounds may not look it, they are considered a “green”. But how can something brown in color be considered a green? Here’s a look at the differences between the two.
Green vs. Brown: The Difference
If compost were described purely by the color of it, that would make composting a whole lot easier. The problem is that this isn’t exactly the case.
So, what exactly is the difference between green and brown compost?
Let’s talk about it.
- Brown compost comes directly from outdoor plants or wood sources. That includes leaves, sawdust, and even some forms of cotton fabrics. The carbon content in brown compost is meant to allow air into your compost pile while also allowing water to sink in rather deeply. This makes your compost pile incredibly nutrient-rich.
- Green compost comes from green plants. That includes fresh-cut grass, fruits, vegetables, and coffee grounds. Green compost helps to supply your lawn and garden with the nitrogen it needs to grow.
What you might not know about composting is that you need a somewhat equal mix of both brown and green compost. That means you can’t just expect to add coffee grounds and filters to your compost bin and just wish for the best.
Are Coffee Grounds Better to Be Composted or Just Thrown Into the Garden?
It’s suggested that coffee filters are added to your compost bin instead of thrown directly into your garden. That’s because it takes coffee filters close to a year to break down, and adding these filters to your garden can result in a very unsightly phenomenon.
But, coffee grounds are a different story. They can easily be sprinkled onto your soil or your garden as soon as they’ve been used. So, does this make a difference? Or, should they just be composted instead?
Let’s find out.
Getting Rid of Your Grounds Purposefully
Can you add coffee grounds right to your garden?
Your used coffee grounds fare much better when added to your compost bin and given the time to properly break down. This allows the normally “green” compost from coffee grounds to mix with the “browns” like discarded leaves.
This can help to keep your garden neutral instead of highly acidic or alkaline.
If you’re that interested in adding those coffee grounds in right now, you have to add them intelligently. That means using very, very thin layers and not overwhelming your soil with the very acidic nature of coffee grounds.
Just like any food or items you use in the kitchen, both coffee grounds and coffee filters can be added to your compost bin. After a few months (or even close to a year) from now, you can use this compost as a fertilizer in your garden or on your lawn to boost growth and photosynthesis.
Here are some things you should keep in mind:
- Make sure you’re evening out your brown and green compost.
- Don’t add coffee grounds or filters directly to your garden, if possible.
- Give your compost enough time to fully break down to get the full effects.
For more on understanding some of the differences, check out our Difference Between Compost, Mulch, Fertilizer, and Soil page.