Although it’s not immediately apparent to the uninitiated, spreading wood ash on the lawn is one of the best methods of maintaining general health and vigor. It’s quick, easy, and effective.
Wood ash is the result of burning hardwood, softwood, and other organic materials. It’s often used as an alternative fertilizer to chemical ones as it contains calcium, potassium, and magnesium, which are essential nutrients for healthy and robust plant growth. It also helps correct soil pH levels, reduces acidity levels, and makes the environment more suitable for plant growth.
This article will discuss the benefits of applying ash as fertilizer, how to spread wood ash on the lawn, and other important factors for successful results.
Understanding Wood Ash
For thousands of years, wood ash was used as a soil neutralizer, and we have the Romans to thank for this. It mainly comprises calcium, and the natural alkali in it helps to neutralize excess acid.
This makes wood ash so valuable because when nitrogen and phosphorus levels are high, they can make plants more susceptible to pests and disease. But regular wood ash applications will help prevent these problems by building a neutral environment for the plant.
One of the most significant advantages of wood ash is that it’s cheap and freely available. However, if you live in an area where the soil has a high pH level (more alkaline) or where loam soils predominate, then there may be a need to balance out the pH levels of your soil before spreading the leftover ash on them.
How to Spread Wood Ash on Lawn
When it comes to spreading wood ash on your lawn, you have two choices. You can either apply the ash directly onto the grass or work it into the soil before planting.
All the same, the ratios aren’t any different. How much wood ash you spread on your lawn will depend on the size of the garden and how many times per year you plan to spread it. However, it’s imperative that before you apply any wood ash, you first understand the pH of your soil.
You can use a test kit to do this or try mixing some of the wood ash with water and testing the pH levels by placing a few drops on a white plate. If it’s between 6.5 and 7.5, your soil is already fairly neutral (a pH level of 7 represents the middle ground between acidic and basic).
Ideally, for every 1000 square feet of your lawn, you should apply about 10-15 pounds of wood ash. Repeat this every five years or when the pH levels of the soil drop to 5.5 or lower.
Pro tip: Remember to wear protective clothing and gloves before spreading the ash as it may be harmful.
Step By Step Guide
- Remove any Debris: Gather all the dried twigs, branches, leaves, and twine and remove them from your lawn. Doing this will remove any extraneous materials that may detract from the overall appearance of your lawn.
- Moisten your lawn: If you’ve opted to spread it directly on the lawn, then make sure that you first water your lawn. This will help prevent the ash from blowing away in the wind, and this caution is especially important if you live in a windy area.
- Rake the Ash: If you’re working it into the soil, then rake the ash over the surface of your lawn. The easiest way to do this is with a leaf rake, but a regular garden rake will work just as well.
- Work the ash into the Soil: For this, you can either use a shovel or garden hoe. Either way, make sure that you work the ash into the top one inch of soil. This is important because it will help stave off further growth of harmful bacteria and fungi in your lawn while improving its overall appearance.
- Water Well: After spreading the ash, give the lawn a good watering.
Other Factors to Consider
The type of tree from which you obtain the wood ash also affects the properties of the fertilizer. Wood ash from hardwood trees such as beech, chestnut, oak, maple, or sweetgum will produce a fine powder that’s ideal for spreading directly on the lawn. Hardwood trees also contain more nutrients, so it’s more suitable for boosting your lawn’s health.
However, softwood ash (from coniferous trees such as firs, cedars, cypress, and pines) has coarse particles that settle easily in dryer conditions. Moreover, since softwood trees don’t contain as many nutrients, you’ll have to apply more of it for the same results.
It’s also important to avoid getting any ash that contains toxic chemicals or metals as ingesting it may cause serious health problems. This is especially true for animals and pets. So make sure you sort the ashes before using them on your lawn.
In addition, even though wood ash provides a free source of nutrients and can be beneficial to grow plants, you shouldn’t apply it in large quantities to your lawn. This is because wood ash can affect the pH balance of your soil and, if misused, can harm your lawn’s growth.
How to Spread Wood Ash on Lawn (FAQs)
Does wood ash kill grass?
Wood ash can kill the grass. It is an alkaline substance, and when applied in large quantities or without proper preparation, it can quickly affect the pH levels of your soil.
Can I put fireplace ashes on my lawn?
You can put fireplace ashes on your lawn, but you have to be very careful how much of it you use for the first application. It will increase the pH level of your lawn, and if in excess, it may also kill your grass.
Does wood ash kill moss?
Yes, Wood ash is highly alkaline and changes the pH in a matter of days, and most lawns are relatively acidic. It is used by many to remedy moss problems. However, if you have too much of it, it can also affect plant growth in your lawn.
What are the disadvantages of wood ash?
Adding wood ash to your lawn is no guarantee that the grass will grow fast. It may also kill some of your plants and grasses if used in excess. Generally, it contains a lot of carbon, which can, over time, create too basic a soil.
Is wood ash a good fertilizer?
Wood ash is a good source of nutrients for your plants, but you must moderate how much you use. The best way to do this is by adding it gradually to the soil or using it in small amounts so that your lawn doesn’t get too much of it. Experts recommend that you use it alongside other types of fertilizers to get the best results.
Wood ash not only improves the health of your lawn but is also cheap and readily available. Many gardeners use it to balance the pH levels of their lawns.
This article has given you all the information you’ll need on how to spread wood ash on your lawn. Just keep in mind that whatever you do, make sure that before you apply any wood ash, you first test how acidic or basic your soil is using a pH test kit.