How to Feed Pecan Trees Lye


Burying a full metal canister of lye is an old-fashioned garden remedy for encouraging or improving nut production and health in pecan trees. While there are differences of opinion on the usefulness of this method, there is some consensus on the science that may underpin the practice. Lye raises the pH of the soil, which is favorable for pecans, as they do not like acidic soil. Second, the metal canister that typically houses the lye and is buried near the tree roots contains zinc, which leaches into the soil. Pecan trees use large amounts of zinc and can deplete the soil of the nutrient. Third, lye contains potassium, which the tree uses for flowering and fruiting.

Step 1

Dig a hole at least 1 foot deep approximately located along the drip line of the pecan tree canopy.

Step 2

Remove the lid from the lye and set the can in the hole sideways or upside down.

Step 3

Bury over the can with the excavated soil and compact the soil in place with your palm or foot.

Step 4

Water the area until drenched and leave the lye to do its work over many years.

Things You'll Need

  • Tin of lye
  • Shovel
  • Dolomitic lime
  • Zinc sulfate
  • Potassium


  • Atlanta Journal Constitution: Lye Won;t Help or Hurt Pecan Trees
  • Alabama A&M Auburn Universities: Garden Buzzz Pecans & Lye
  • North Carolina State University: Pecan Tree Nutrients
Keywords: fertilizing pecan trees with lye, using lye around pecan tree, zinc and lime soil deficiency

About this Author

An omni-curious communications professional, Dena Kane has more than 17 years of experience writing and editing content for online publications, corporate communications, business clients, industry journals, as well as film and broadcast media. Kane studied political science at the University of California, San Diego.