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Sweep Wood Ash from the Fireplace to Your Lawn and Garden

expert cleaning ash from fireplace in richmond vaWhile you’re cozying up to the snap, crackle and pop of a roaring fire, a common by-product is brewing in the firebox. This by-product is wood ash and is the remnants of the wood-burning process. At the end of winter, many homeowners discard most of the ash when getting their fireplace ready for the next cold spell. But rather than discarding wood ash from your fireplace, try using it as an eco-friendly fertilizer in your lawn and garden. You may be surprised to learn that wood ash is chock full of essential nutrients that can help improve the quality of your soil.

When wood burns, sulfur and nitrogen gases are expelled through the chimney, leaving calcium, boron, potassium, and other trace elements remain behind. The addition of wood ash to your lawn and garden helps to balance alkalinity and acidity levels while enriching soils low in potassium and calcium. Wood ash particles are very small and thus, break down quickly easily blending in with your soil. Another benefit is that it can be used to control pests in your garden. When small amounts of ash are added at the base of a plant, the contained salts can be very effective in fighting pests such as snails and slugs that are feeding on your beautiful plants and flowers.

Determine your soil’s alkalinity level

Because wood ash can raise the alkalinity of your soil, lawn and garden experts recommend testing the soil with a simple soil test kit to determine its current alkalinity or pH level. If your soil has a pH level of 6 or lower, then wood ash can help raise the pH to create a healthier environment for your plants to thrive. Also, don’t mix wood ash with a high alkaline fertilizer since this may spur the release of nitrogen and neutralize the beneficial effects of wood ash.

Don’t burn harmful materials

Only use natural wood ash from your fireplace in your lawn and garden. Don’t use ash that contains coal, cardboard or pressure-treated, stained or painted wood. These materials contain chemicals that may be harmful to plants.

Use the ash sparingly

Sprinkling ash in your lawn and garden is akin to sprinkling salt on food.  You want to be careful to avoid overdoing it otherwise it becomes too salty. The same is true for ash. The small amount of lyme, salts and potassium that are released into the soil are essential nutrients that plants love. But too much can have the opposite effect.

richmond va using wood ash as fertilizerAvoid using wood ash on acidic plants and flowers

Since wood ash raises the alkalinity while reducing acidity in the soil, it should not be used to fertilize plants that thrive in highly acidic soil like azaleas, camellias, cranberries and rhododendrons, to name a few.

Now that you have a good understanding of the benefits of wood ash. Try sweeping small amounts of wood ash from your fireplace to your garden and watch your plants thrive.

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