Using Wood Ashes in the Garden

Many folks who burn wood in fireplaces and wood stoves are faced with an abundance of wood ash.  An average cord of wood can yield up to 20 – 30 pounds of ashes.


Make certain that your ashes are kept in a safe, fireproof container.

Wood ashes are fine for raising the pH of the soil (making it more alkaline or “sweetening” it) in either your garden or even on the lawn.  They contain potassium, and smaller amounts of phosphorus and magnesium, depending on the variety of the wood.

Be careful though, especially if your garden is small and your supply of ashes is large, as you can overdo it.  Don’t use more than about 20 pounds per 1,000 square feet each year (or about ¼ – ½ inch of ashes per year).


Some vegetable plants will benefit from a light application of wood ash.

If your soil is in the proper pH range, this rate would be safe for yearly treatments, especially around deciduous trees and shrubs, fruit trees, vegetables (except around potatoes because increased alkalinity can cause potato scab), perennials, roses,  bulbs and annuals.

You may want to test to see if your pH range is below 7.5 before adding ashes in ratios higher than this though. Otherwise, over-application can increase the likelihood of soil related problems.  Your local Extension Service should be able to assist you with having your soil tested.

Avoid using wood ashes around acid-loving plants such as azaleas, junipers, conifers, blueberries, rhododendrons and camellias.

For more information on using wood ash in the vegetable garden, check out the Grow web site.  Click here for a list of plants that perform well with applications of wood ash.



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2 Responses to Using Wood Ashes in the Garden

  1. Laurie Riedman January 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

    We also have a wood stove and save the ash for the garden as well. As you noted I don’t use the ash near my acid loving plants – but instead my Rhododendrons and our blueberry bushes seem to love the coffee grinds I also save. I simply save them up and when the bucket is full – run around my garden mixing the grinds into the soil around the base of the plant. It seems to work wonders! Thanks for the tips.

  2. Suzette Trimmer January 31, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    For decades I have been recycling my wood burning fireplace ashes in my garden and compost. I recommend to those who have not done this yet to simply obtain or use your mister so that when you scoop out the ashes keep misting them as they go in to keep the ash out of the air. I always put around my container trees, and great really great for vegetable garden. Hope this helps someone.

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