Ash can be a great addition to the garden for some uses. Learn how to use ash in the garden in this article. 

How to Use Ash in the Garden

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Ash can be a great addition to the garden for some uses. Learn how to use ash in the garden in this article. And find other great information on gardening for beginners.

hand spade full of wood ash over a garden bed

Is ash good for the garden?

Ash can be found in abundance around the home. There is charcoal ash, ashes from the fireplace or fire pit, and ashes from things you burn such as paper. We had 23 years of old tax records, receipts, and daycare enrollment forms in our attic and that’s far too many to keep.

We could have shredded them, but that would have taken a month. So for faster disposal, while protecting personal information of myself and all of my past clients, we burned them. We spent a day burning in a barrel and enjoyed the fire by roasting marshmallows and sitting around it watching the flames.

In our city, we are allowed to burn recreationally so we did it for a family activity. Of course on a Saturday when the kids weren’t here.

Ashes in compost

Composting it first is the best way. Find out how to use ash in compost.

Using ashes in compost can be tricky. If you use too much, you make the pile too alkaline. If the compost or soil in the garden is too alkaline, it prohibits the plants from absorbing iron which can cause deficiencies. You can layer the ashes in the compost and it will add a ton of lime and potassium to your compost which is great for garden plants.

Spread 1/8 inch of ashes on the pile, then 3-9 inches of browns or carbon materials, then 3 inches of green such as kitchen scraps. You can also just compost paper without burning it first in the same way and with the same effect.

If you use ash in the garden, it’s better to compost it first. But if you don’t, you can use it a few ways. It’s a great source of lime and potassium for your plants. Ashes sprinkled around plants can deter snails and slugs. You have to reapply after the rain.

When you apply ashes to the garden, wear gloves and eye protection and avoid windy days for spreading. Apply it carefully. It will not burn plants, but it could make the soil too alkaline. Don’t use it on acid-loving plants such as berries, azaleas and rhododendrons, holly, potatoes, and parsley.

Is wood ash good for roses

Wood ash is great for stimulating flower production. It is good for roses, but make sure not to use too much. It’s also good for tomatoes for that same reason. It makes them produce more flowers that produce more tomatoes.

Is wood ash good for fruit trees

Fruit trees don’t prefer alkaline soil. Stone fruits will respond better to it than other fruits. Avoid using ashes on apples and pears.

Is wood ash good for grass

Grass thrives in alkaline soil believe it or not. So wood ash is great for growing lawns. Sprinkle ashes over your lawn in a thin application and you’ll get great grass production.

metal bucket full of ashes

The kinds of ashes that are good for gardens include wood ash from unpainted and untreated wood such as you would use in the fireplace or fire pit.

Ashes from burning paper are also good to use. Cardboard ashes are good for the garden. And ashes from straw or other dried grasses are good as well.

Ashes from charcoal should not be used in the garden as they contain chemical residue that could harm your plants. You also don’t want to be eating chemicals.

The plants that like wood ash include delphiniums, roses, and tomatoes. Grass likes ashes. Garlic, chives, leeks, lettuce, and asparagus like wood ash as well.

Plants that don’t like wood ash include stone fruit trees, berries, azaleas, rhododendrons, holly, potatoes, and parsley.

Experiment with using a little bit of ash in your garden if you have some that you need to use. We are doing that this year and our cole crops or cool-season crops are growing like gangbusters. I’ve also not had any slugs in my lettuce like I usually do. Hopefully, as the season moves on that will last.

We sprinkled a tiny bit on our beds and put the rest in the compost to break down and add potassium later in the season.

For more advice on how to control weeds in the garden or get rid of slugs, squash bugs, and more, click on these links.

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