Wood ash is a valuable byproduct of burning wood, and it can be a beneficial addition to your garden if used correctly. This guide will help you understand which plants benefit from ash and how to apply it properly.

Benefits of Using Wood Ash in the Garden

  • Nutrient-Rich: Wood ash contains essential nutrients like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, which are beneficial for plant growth.
  • Soil pH Adjustment: Wood ash can help raise the pH of acidic soils, making it more alkaline.
  • Pest Deterrent: Ash can deter pests like slugs and snails when sprinkled around plants.

Plants That Like Ash

  1. Vegetables:
  • Tomatoes: Benefit from the calcium and potassium in wood ash, which can help prevent blossom-end rot.
  • Carrots: Wood ash can help improve soil structure, promoting healthy root growth.
  • Beets: Ash provides essential nutrients that support root development.
  1. Fruit Trees:
  • Apples: Benefit from the potassium and calcium in wood ash, which can improve fruit quality.
  • Cherries: The nutrients in ash can enhance the overall health and yield of cherry trees.
  • Plums: Like other fruit trees, plums appreciate the added minerals from wood ash.
  1. Flowering Plants:
  • Roses: Wood ash can provide essential nutrients and improve soil pH, promoting healthy blooms.
  • Lilacs: The calcium and potassium in ash can support strong growth and vibrant flowers.
  • Peonies: Benefit from the added nutrients and improved soil structure.
  1. Herbs:
  • Lavender: Prefers slightly alkaline soil, which can be achieved by adding wood ash.
  • Thyme: Also thrives in alkaline soil conditions, benefiting from the nutrients in ash.

How to Apply Wood Ash

  1. Test Your Soil:
  • Before applying wood ash, test your soil pH. Wood ash raises the pH, so avoid using it on already alkaline soils.
  1. Application Rate:
  • A general guideline is to apply about 20 pounds of wood ash per 1,000 square feet of garden area per year.
  • For smaller areas or containers, use about 1 cup of ash per square yard of soil.
  1. How to Apply:
  • Broadcasting: Spread the ash evenly over the soil surface and mix it into the top 6 inches of soil.
  • Side-Dressing: For established plants, apply ash around the base, avoiding direct contact with stems or leaves.
  • Composting: Add ash to your compost pile to enhance nutrient content. Mix well to avoid clumping.
  1. Frequency:
  • Apply wood ash once a year, preferably in the fall or early spring, to allow time for it to integrate into the soil.

Precautions When Using Wood Ash

  • Avoid Over-Application: Excessive ash can raise soil pH too much and lead to nutrient imbalances.
  • Do Not Use on Acid-Loving Plants: Avoid using wood ash on plants like blueberries, rhododendrons, and azaleas, which prefer acidic soil.
  • Mix Well: Ensure ash is thoroughly mixed into the soil to prevent concentrated pockets that can harm plants.
  • Wear Protective Gear: When handling wood ash, wear gloves and a mask to avoid skin irritation and inhalation of ash particles.


Wood ash can be a beneficial addition to your garden, providing essential nutrients and helping to adjust soil pH. By understanding which plants benefit from ash and how to apply it properly, you can enhance the health and productivity of your garden. Always use ash in moderation and test your soil regularly to ensure optimal growing conditions.