• Poison ivy [Toxicodendron radicans] is the scourge of the backyard and can prevent people from having a perfectly lovely afternoon outside. The reaction from coming into contact with this plant (and for some people it's just touching something that has touched the plant) can be a nightmare of a blistering, itchy rash that can cause eyes to swell up and in some cases even the mouth or throat.


    The most essential task in killing poison ivy is to first properly identify it. If you are going to kill vegetation, you want to make sure that you are only killing the poison ivy (also known as poison oak, three-leafed ivy, poison creeper and climbing sumac) and not everything else in your yard. Poison ivy, according the University of Oklahoma, can grow as a self-supporting woody shrub, a trailing vine on the ground or an aerial-rooting vine climbing up trellises, telephone poles, trees and anything else vertical. Vines that are 10 years or older can grow as high as 30 feet and be several inches in diameter. The leaves come in groups of three smaller leaves occurring alternately along the stem, and are usually smooth, but can be a dull or glossy green. Leaf edges may be smooth, toothed or lobed. Larger (mature) leaves have large "teeth" on either side of the broadest part of the leaf. Leaf sizes vary from one-quarter inch to more than 2 inches long. Before you set out to destroy the vines, be sure to look at several different pictures of the leaves, either online or in a book with clear photos so that you are certain as to what you are looking for.

    Killing Poison Ivy

    There are chemical weed killers which will kill poison ivy. Round Up is one of these. Unfortunately, Round Up will also kill anything else it comes into contact with including frogs, toads and birds. Whether or not Round Up causes cancer in humans is also up for debate. Further, using an herbicide on poison ivy is not, according to Mike McGrath, a master gardener, a completely effective way to kill poison ivy. The oils of poison ivy are still poisonous even after the plant has been "killed." Many people have been infected while trying to remove the debris after a spraying. So, in order to be safe, protect the wildlife in your yard and your children from the toxicity of something like Round Up, you can put on thick plastic bags for gloves (not gloves) and long sleeves and pull the poison ivy out. You can protect exposed parts of your body with Ivy Block, a clay-based lotion that forms a barrier over your skin and protects you from the poisonous oils of the plant. According to McGrath, the most effective pulling method, one he devised himself, entails finding a partner to help you. Saturate the ground where the poison ivy is with water first. Then put plastic bags (thicker shopping bags, not grocery bags) over your hands and pull the vines out by the roots. If you can't get a vine out, then have your partner saturate the base of the plant with a garden hose. After you have pulled out the vines, go directly to the shower (have your partner open doors for you as you will not want to touch anything at all), and rinse with cool water. Don't use soap or a washcloth as that can spread the oil to other, more sensitive, areas of your body. If you must use a spray, use a natural one, made up of 1 cup of salt dissolved in 1 gallon of white vinegar with 8 to 10 drops of dish or laundry detergent added. This will kill the plant, but you must still be careful while you remove it. Find out from your local waste disposal department where you can put your very treacherous bags of dead poison ivy. You do not want to compost it or burn it. Burning it could cause the oils to enter your mouth, throat or lungs.


    Poison Ivy Control, Jim Kells, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, Michigan State University, Vinegar for Poison Ivy, Annie Bond, Poison Ivy Problems?, Mike McGrath

    More Information:

    University of Oklahoma Police Department, Poison Ivy

  • find out in the store what will kill it and then buy it
  • just google it and it will tell you how to do it

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