9 Creative Ways I’ve Used Pistachio Shells in the Garden

This post follows our research editorial guidelines.

Brock Ingham
Brock Ingham

Not all kitchen scraps can be used in ways like pistachio shells can. If you’ve been snacking on these savory treats don’t be so quick to throw away the shells. These shells can work wonders for your garden and soil in more ways than one. 

pistachio shell uses

In fact pistachio shells can have a big impact on your garden ecology if used in the right place at the right time.  Ground-up shells can be added to your soil to raise the pH or kept intact to be a scattered as mulch. It’s up to you and your individual gardening needs.

Decorative Borders

creative border using shells

Adding pistachio shells alongside raised beds or rock gardens can be used to create an eco-friendly border or pathway that will be slow to decompose.

The greenish hues that come from the shells will also add a bit of intrigue when in contrast to grass. Don’t worry about cleaning the shells before you place them down any little bits of the husk will add organic matter to the soil below.

Improve drainage in Potted Plants

used to improve drainage

Another great way you can use pistachio shells in your garden is by adding them to the bottom of potted plants. I often add a layer of pistachio shells along with some bone meal which improves drainage and acts as a honey pot for the plant to reach once their new roots are established. 

I prefer this much more than adding rocks to the bottom of potted plants. Pistacio shells have the added benefit of breaking down over time while rocks can often hold onto and concentrate minerals and salts over time. 

Insect repellant

burnt shells

Instead of reaching for the citronella candles when the mosquitos come out, light up a few pistachio seeds! The compounds they release when being burnt will impact the ability of mosquitos to locate where you are.

Plus, the natural compounds released are much less harmful to pets and people. When trying this natural pest control remedy aim for an even smolder from a slow burn for best results.

Feed Birds (and squirrels)

Food for birds

I recently got into bird watching after receiving a birdhouse with a camera inside as a gift. My Granddad was always big into birdwatching so it felt like a great way to honor his hobby after he passed.

We get a ton of birds around our house naturally, so setting up a few feeders was an easy way to help them along through winter. Pistachio shells can be used as little cups to hold nut butter, they can feed on the snack right at the feeder or bring it home to a nest for later. Either way, it’s a great little trick to support your local wildlife, even if the squirrels look to take their share.

Seedling Markers

names on seedlings

Sick of massive markers for your seedlings that keep blocking the light? Try writing their names on the back of shells. While this will take some serious motor control to get right, it can be a cute way to call out the varieties you growing without big signs blocking the way.

Raise Soil Ph

If your looking for a natural way to raise the pH of your soil, powdered pistachio shells can do just the trick. Beans and brassicas like cauliflower, kale or broccoli prefer growing in alkaline soil so if you garden among pine trees your soil pH may be too low. 

When adding crushed pistachio shells to your garden soil be sure not to use ones that were salted. Salt has the opposite effect and will make soil more acidic far before the shells have a chance to break down.

Natural Mulch

planted pot mulch

Pistachio shells make for a great mulch. Their solid structure will help to retain moisture better than woodchips and are mold and mildew-resistant.  I’ve added them to potted plants around the house, they’ve cut down on the amount of water these plants need and will break down over time.

Kids Crafts

Colorful little shells

If you’ve gotten to know me, you’ve seen that I have 2 beautiful children.  Having extra shells handy in a bag can be a great way to break those rainy-day blues.

Once we’re done painting them, they can be glued to paper or placed in the garden as decorations. Not only is creativity encouraged here but also getting our hands back in the garden, which I love.

Compost

shells in compost

If you don’t like the look of pistachio shells in the garden, try adding them to a compost pile. They may take longer to decompose than your typical kitchen scrap but when done in layering they can add some proper drainage to your pile.  

Pistachio shells are rich in carbon which makes it a “brown”. When making compost it’s important to balance your browns and greens 3:1 that’s when the magic of making compost really starts to heat up.

Before you go!

I hope you were able to find some fun new ways to use pistachio shells in your garden. Not only will they add a bit of intrigue along your raised beds and walkways they can also play a pivotal role in your ecosystem by repelling pests and helping to feed the wildlife. 

Email icon
Don’t Leaf Me Hanging! 🍃 Join the Club!