Uses for Wood Ash at Home and in the Garden

For many gardeners, wood ash is a plentiful and free resource. If you burn wood, you surely have plenty of wood ash that needs somewhere to go. Even if you don’t burn ash to heat your home, you may have a friend or neighbor who might be happy to let you clear away their ash and put it to good use in your yard or garden.

Why Wood Ash?
What does wood ash do for your garden?

Wood ash is a useful fertilizer and amendment that can be used in the garden, on lawns, and in landscapes, too. It is a good source of several important minerals and nutrients for your yard and garden. It is also a highly effective amendment for modifying soil pH.

The most abundant mineral nutrient in wood ash is calcium. On average, the calcium content of wood ash is 20% or higher. Calcium is an important element that helps plants stave off diseases such as the notorious blossom end rot.

Wood ash is also a very good source of potassium—it is about 5% potassium. It is commonly known or referred to as “potash” for this reason, and potassium is the mineral that wood ash is most often used for. When people look for a source of potassium, they look to potash—wood ashes.

Other minerals found in wood ash are magnesium, sulfur, and phosphorous, all found at concentrations around 2%. In addition, wood ash contains trace amounts of manganese, iron, zinc, aluminum, boron, copper, and other trace minerals.

Besides being a source of potash, wood ash is also commonly used as an amendment to adjust soil pH. The high calcium content in wood ash is in the form of calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is what is in agricultural lime. One of the major uses of lime in gardening and landscaping is in raising soil pH to reduce its acidity and make it more neutral or alkaline (depending on the goal and how much is used). This makes wood ash an excellent, free resource for amending acidic soils or soils with a low pH.

 

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