Easy Ways To Use Wood Ashes In The Garden

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 09:26 pm

Do you love to light a fire in the fireplace or enjoy the warmth of the wood stove in autumn or winter? If so, you’ve probably noticed that you end up with a lot of ashes that you don’t know what to do with. The good news is that these ashes are excellent for the garden. Gardeners of all generations have been using them for a long time to give their plants all the good nutrients they provide.

And the same principle as with coffee grounds or newspaper: it makes for very clever recycling! Also, you have everything to gain by keeping them in a bucket or a waterproof bag to spread them in the garden and serve many uses after a simple passage through a sieve. Here’s how to use wood ash in the garden.

Easy Ways To Use Wood Ashes In The Garden

Remember to save ashes for ash laundry and home maintenance (especially for shining silverware or cleaning the glass of the fireplace insert!)

1) Ashes are a good natural fertilizer for the garden

Ashes are rich in potash, calcium, potassium, magnesium, silica and phosphorus. It is this richness in mineral elements that makes it such a powerful natural fertilizer. These mineral salts and trace elements help the flowering of the orchard’s shrubs and fruit trees as well as the flowering and development of flowers, fruits and vegetables in the garden and vegetable garden. It does not only help fruiting. By correcting the acidity of the soil, it also allows any plantation to develop strong roots. This amendment pleases roses, bamboos, citrus and small fruits plants, fruit vegetables (eggplant, cucumber, bean, tomato…), flower vegetables (artichoke, broccoli, cauliflower…) and root vegetables (carrot, turnip, potato…) whose development is stimulated.

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2) Ashes against harmful garden pests


Using ashes to repel gastropods in the garden is a well-known process. It is indeed a good repellent against slugs and snails to protect seedlings from attacks. This is done by spreading it around the plants to create a protection. However, this protection wears off with dew or rain. Therefore, consider re-spreading or supplementing with other natural repellents against these undesirables. Sprinkled in a furrow, they can also keep flea beetles away from radishes and cabbages. Finally, a gardener can also use them locally to dislodge some aphids on large leaves like cabbage.

3) Ashes to correct the acidity of the garden soil

Very calcareous, ashes are often used to correct acidic soils. For logical reasons, however, it should not be used on soils that are already very calcareous, as it worsens the alkalization process! It is also important to know that earthworms and other useful soil microorganisms love wood ash. Spreading ash thus improves water infiltration. Note that contrary to popular belief, ash does not destroy lawn moss! However, by correcting the acidity of the soil, it helps limit the appearance of moss.

4) To add to the compost

cendres jardin compost compostage

Ashes can be composted with your green and brown waste, but in small quantities. Indeed, abusing it could hinder the good aeration necessary for an efficient decomposition of the composting elements. Moreover, it could slow down the bacterial activity in the compost. It is therefore better to limit yourself to a small handful from time to time in your humus to help limit bad odors.

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5) Other gardening tips

Ashes are not only good to be used at the foot of plants to fertilize them! For example, wood ash can be used instead of salt or baking soda to clear a snowy path. Its texture is indeed the same, which helps to melt the snow with it. You can also roll your bulbs in wood ash to limit slug attacks and fungus growth.

Precautions to know before using ashes in the garden

lessive aux cendres

Before using wood ash, make sure it is cold and extinguished. This avoids burning the plants and starting a fire. In addition, it should only be handled with protective gloves when spreading in the garden, as it is slightly caustic. When spreading it, parsimony is required, because we want to avoid asphyxiating the soil at all costs. A handful, carefully sifted to avoid large pieces, will suffice. Then, bury it roughly with a hook to prevent it from sticking.

On the other hand, even in small doses, ashes remain incompatible with the garden in certain cases. For example, it is poor in nitrogen, but rich in limestone. It is therefore not appreciated by acidophilic plants (azaleas, camellias, Japanese maples, rhododendrons, etc.). Finally, we advise against the use of certain ashes:

-Do not use varnished, painted or treated wood ash to avoid polluting the soil with chemical residues. Also be careful not to burn plastic! Use only untreated wood.
-Ban the use of mineral coal ash, very toxic in the garden.
-Finally, absolutely avoid plywood, composite wood or OSB panels rich in glues and chemical resins.

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  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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