Getting rid of Poison Ivy without killing trees/plants???

piscesgirlJuly 5, 2006

We just purchased a house in the winter and this summer discovered we have poison ivy in just about all of our flower beds.

Because we live in a semi-wooded area with hills, several of our flower beds are all ground cover so the poison ivy is in many places inter-mingled in the ground cover. In other places it is growing in our flower beds, tangled in bushes, or growing up our dogwood tree.

How do we get rid of the poison ivy without killing our groundcover/trees/flowers/bushes, etc.? My husband and I are extreamly sensitive to poison ivy and have already gotten it once this year so bad that we had to go to the doctor (both of us had it all over, including our faces).

We are planning on starting a family and since the poison is all over our yard we want to try and get rid of most of it before we have children getting exposed to it.


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There have been a few threads on poison ivy. You might look through them. Basic plans of attack:

1. Spray a brush killer on it where you can.
2. Take a small paint brush and paint it full strength on the leaves (less collateral damage, but drips can kill other plants if they land on leaves).
3. Dig it up (wear protection - no gaps in clothing and be careful taking clothing off!). You have to dig up the underground stems, or they'll send up shoots next year. They're only an inch or two below the surface, but they're rather too easy to break.
4. Cut vines growing up trees near the base and apply full strength brush killer to the cut. (Do this even if the tree is out of the way. It will reduce the number of seedlings you get each year.)

It usually takes several applications of brush killer, sometimes over a couple of years. Ditto with digging. You'll get most of it the first time. I would consider replacing the groundcover, if the beds are truly infested. Poison Ivy is hard enough to control without worrying what it's next to.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 3:00PM
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Thanks for the advise. I was weeding the flowerbeds and beds of groundcover from the tons of wild grape and virginia creeper vines and must of pulled out some poison ivy too. I wasn't dressed to deal with the p.i. (shorts and tank top) thus the severe outbreak.

Do you know if virginia creeper and wild grape vines are just as hard to get rid of as poison ivy?

We have tons of this stuff all over and of course now I am afraid to go anywhere near the flowerbeds and the weeds and ivy are growing rather quickly with all the rain we have been getting here on the east coast.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2006 at 5:06PM
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I've used herbicides on p.i. only (well, ok, I've been known to spray privet when I'm out battling p.i.). The poison has to reach a certain concentration inside the plant's roots for it to be effective (my theory). If the roots are large, more poison is needed. Typically you kill only part of the plant and discourage the rest. In plants with underground rhizomes and stems, like virginia creeper, the discouraged part may recover and sends up shoots in a month or a year.

Virginia creeper is easy (relatively) to pull up. It's underground stems are usually right under the surface.

I tried to digging up grape only this year. Cutting it to the ground or just below does not work. A mattock helped a lot, but it's a rather heavy tool. We'll have to see if the grape comes back.

P.S. If you really like the ground cover, you can try digging up the plants, putting them in pots or some dirt somewhere in the yard, clearing the bed out, and replanting. Some plants (like hostas) transplant easily.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2006 at 2:43PM
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As a child growing up in the northeast with eight brothers and sisters and spending most of our play time in the woods around our house,I can't remember any of us ever contracting a severe case of poison ivy,although it grew everywhere and we were exposed to it often.Even now,fourty years later as I wade thru the neck high perrenial with my five year old neice,in shorts and bare feet(both of us),in search of salamanders and frogs with it still growing everywhere, any reaction is rare.Maybe compleatly avoiding it is a mistake.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2006 at 1:22PM
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Systemic herbicides stop being absorbed when the leaves die. If you apply too much herbicide, the leaves die quickly without sending much of the herbicide to the roots. I find that a lighter application every week or so works best for me, particularly with the poison ivy and other tough pests.

I do appreciate the tip about using red food coloring when painting the cut ends of shrubs and vines!

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 1:48PM
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I came across these forums while looking for some photos of poison ivy to confirm the plants in my backyard are indeed poison ivy (it's my first year in a new state, and the three-leaved things don't look quite the same as poison ivy in other places I've lived, but I tend to err on the side of caution with 3-leaved plants).

While it won't spare surrounding plants, I've had good success in the past using bleach to kill off any missed roots to prevent poison ivy from returning (works on other persistent weeds too). The nice thing about bleach, as opposed to other commercially available herbicides is it doesn't linger forever in the soil preventing you from replanting whatever you wanted there other than poison ivy. Of course, this also means you might need to reapply it a few times to get it to fully work.

I always see the precautions about wearing long pants and long shirts and gloves when people offer advice about pulling poison ivy, but rarely does anyone explain how to get those OFF without contaminating your skin, so I thought I'd offer some suggestions on that, because it's not necessarily obvious.

First, I wear something that's EASY to remove when I'm done, like old sweatpants or jeans that are a little on the big side, and a button-up shirt with button cuffs, not something you have to pull over your head, which risks smearing it over your face as you pull it off. I'll guarantee you that once you get all dressed up and gloved up, your nose will decide to itch...remember not to scratch or rub your face, even if you're tempted to wipe your brow of sweat. For pulling of poison ivy, I wear heavy dishwashing gloves, but then I keep another clean pair back on the porch to wear while handling the clothing.

Okay, so, when you're done pulling the poison ivy, first remove the gloves, because those are most likely to be the worst contaminated of everything on your body. You can pull the first one off anyway you want, holding it with the other gloved hand. For the second glove, tuck your fingers under the cuff and pull it inside-out to remove. Toss both gloves directly into a plastic bag for disposal (don't try reusing them, you'll likely get the poison ivy back on your hands trying to put them on again). Now, I put on the clean gloves (these can be thin, disposable gloves, latex or plastic, so you're able to work buttons and such). I kick the shoes off and leave them outside (you might want to wear rubber boots so you can hose them off). If you need to hose down anything, now is the time to turn the hose on (don't turn it on while still wearing the dirty gloves, or next time you go to water the garden, you'll have poison ivy on the hose and faucet just waiting for your bare hands).

I then head straight to the clothes washer and drop each article of clothing directly into the washer while wearing the "clean" gloves so I don't have to handle them again. Don't touch anything else on the washer once you start putting the clothes into it...whatever got on the outside of your clothes is on the outside of the gloves too now. Once all the outer clothes are in the washer, take the gloves off (hopefully you haven't gotten so contaminated that your under clothes have poison ivy on them, or else you're going to be in a heap of hurt anyway). Again, take the gloves off so that the second one pulls inside out (you can hold the first in that gloved hand and wrap it inside the second as you pull it off so the only thing you now are touching is what was the inside of the second glove so you can toss it to the trash).

Now you can start the washer going...use plenty of detergent AND bleach to get all the oils off (wear something you don't care about getting bleach spots on).

Before you head to the shower yourself, wash your hands thoroughly with lukewarm water (not hot, that opens up the pores and lets the irritants in, but it doesn't have to be uncomfortably cold either) and a mild dish detergent (it should have a detergent in it to dissolve the oils from the poison ivy, but not something so strong that it irritates your skin and leaves it open for any poison ivy residue to get in). Once my hands are washed, I wash my face, which is the other part of the body that was likely to be exposed while the rest of you was covered up. Only then do I hop into the shower (not a want the shower to flush away anything else left). This way, you're less likely to spread any poison ivy from the exposed areas of your body to what were previously unexposed areas when you hit the shower. Again, keep the shower temperature on the cool side, not steaming hot (if you've been out yanking poison ivy while wearing long sleeves and long pants on a summer day, you'll probably want it to be pretty cool anyway).

I know, it sounds like a lot of effort, but it really isn't that difficult, and if you've gone to all the effort to cover up to protect yourself from the poison ivy, it's worth a few extra steps to avoid getting the poison ivy on your skin by touching the dirty clothing as you change for the shower, or by picking it up again after you've taken your shower. It's really easily overlooked, and I often hear people say they've fully covered up and still gotten it anyway, and that's likely how it happened, when they touched their clothing to take it off and touch it again to pick it up from the bathroom floor to put in the laundry after a shower.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2006 at 3:27PM
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The PI rash is caused by an (over)reaction of the immune system. Some people are more sensitive than others and a few aren't sensitive at all. Apparently, one's sensitivity can change as one ages (gets worse or better) because the immune system changes. I've heard such conflicting information about PI sensitivity, I'm not sure how it works. One explanation is that exposure causes the body to make T-cells. The more exposure to PI one gets, the better the body is able to react (i.e., break out in an itchy rash). Encouraging people to go out and play in it in order not to develop a sensitivity to it doesn't seem like a good idea.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 5:39PM
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I,m not encourging people to do anything,I,m just recounting mine and my immediate families experience with the plant as a counter-balance to prevailing poisonivy=evil mindset of most of these post.In the northeast poisonivy becomes endemic to disturbed areas.It cant be eradicated over large areas by more disturbences[vast nonspecivic applictions of herbicide].In small yards such a goal may be possible,but it's always going to exist in nature.Get used to it.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:33PM
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hilltopviews(z7 SE)

Thanks hjb1025 for the information about clothing. I get all covered up to do any yard work, mainly because we have every kind of ant and I don't want them to get up my pants or down my shirt, etc, and the advise on removing the items correctly is very timely. I am just now starting to remove PI and poison oak at the edge of the woods, I hate to see how much more of the stuff is out there.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 6:38PM
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Has anyone used tecnu after ripping out pi? You can get it at any pharmacy. I am very sensitive to pi and like the prior post I cover myself head to toe in clothing and rubber gloves; strip at the washing machine and rub my entire body with tecnu. Since I have used this I have not had any bad case of pi. Should I get a small spot, I rub tecnu daily and the pi is very mild and gone in days. Instructions are detailed on the bottle. Am I just lucky or is this stuff really that good!

    Bookmark   August 25, 2006 at 7:01PM
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Theres a cost to living in a bubble.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2006 at 8:49PM
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cardenorr(z5 OH)

I remember reading somewhere that goats loved poison ivy and could be used for control. Not that goats are a practical option for most people--but I am curious. Does anyone have any experience with goats & PI? I never thought goatswere very discriminating in their tastes. Would anything else be left?

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 12:19AM
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hilltopviews(z7 SE)

In response to the goat question: Goats are wonderful for weed control, but will eat almost anything. Climb on and over and onto everything too. You have to have a way to control them, you can stake them out, but then the goats tend to entangle themselves in even the smallest vines and trees.

But, there are townships that are starting to look at goats to control weeds and vines on roadsides, etc., I wouldn't mind trying it out to see how it works.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2006 at 11:07AM
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I share NY woodsman immunity to poison ivy - so far. Which doesn't mean that I go out and pull it up barehanded or let it grow in my garden and woods. Have to think of others besides myself, so I use Roundup wherever it pops up (and the birds are perpetually gifting me with it). Roundup does not poison the soil and can be used in very close proximity to desired plants as long as you avoid getting it on the foliage of anything you want to keep. If you do accidentally get it on something treasured, just wash it off before it dries and that will save the plant.
Sometimes poison ivy will require several treatments - a lot depends on if the ivy is growing fast at which time it is more susceptible to the herbicide.
I think it's very difficult for someone who does react to the toxins in poison ivy to protect themselves just by covering up. The oil gets on clothing and can be transferred readily to bare skin. When I first started a garden here, it was a solid mass of very vigorous, huge, poison ivy plants. I applied a herbicide to as much of it as I could reach without wading in the stuff, then waited until it died and moved on to the next strip. Warning! If you react to the living plant, the dead plant can cause just as many problems so remove dead leaves and stems very carefully. And don't burn it since the oil is volatile and can travel in the smoke.
The overwhelming majority of humans do get horrendous rashes from poison ivy - I consider myself very lucky that it's never bothered me but that doesn't mean I'm going to tolerate it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2006 at 1:22AM
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orcuttnyc(z5-6 NY)

I'm with you oldroser. On big patches, I spray. but, if I come across a small trailer of the poison ivys three leaves, I just pull it out completely, then head for the kitchen to wash my hands with dish detergent. i've read somewhere that you have about twenty minutes before the oil seeps in.
if i've been pulling it, I make sure not to touch anything, especially my face...
I've not gotten pi since I was a kid. Not even sure if i'm affected by it. I'm content with out expirementing to see.
Simple rules...pull and wash, spray patches in repetative doses, avoid when possible, and most important, know what it looks like, and point it out always, to friends and family, so they know as well...and remember, it might look great as a salad garnish, but don't eat it!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2006 at 2:37PM
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Lots of poison oak here, are they cousins? lol

i've been pulling with gloves and sleeves, but there's too much and it keeps coming back. I tend to be on the organic side as well and like to leave the earth as natural as possible, but I also don't want my friends and family to suffer after playing on my wooded land. Bleach sounds like a good idea. I watched a movie that had alot of bad things to say about Roundup mutating cells or viruses or something, plus, I think it's made by Proctor & Gamble or some such nasty, money hungry company.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2007 at 5:21PM
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Roundup used to control weeds in a garden will not "mutate cells or viruses" or anything of that nature. In fact it is considered to be non-carcinogenic. Bleach is vastly more toxic and damaging than gallons of Roundup, and it will do nothing to control poison ivy long term.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 12:54AM
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kwilson(Z6 KY)

Yes, I have used Tecnu and would recommend it to everyone. I too am very sensitive to PI, didn't use to be. I got it so bad last year I had to go to the doctor and get a shot. I was given some Tecnu by a friend after I had tried everything else on the market. This stuff is great. So far this year I have not had a problem. As soon as I come in I wash up with it even if I don't think I was in contact with the plant. If anyone has ever had a really bad case of this stuff, it really is worth trying. I have only been able to find it at the pharmacy.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2007 at 3:41PM
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I really liked the post that suggested pulling the shrubs, clearing the area, then replanting and re mulching. This is a perfect idea for flower beds. However, the original posting said the couple where extremely sensitive to the poison ivy. So may I add this simple comment? Hire a landscaper to come and do it for you. Sure this may cost a few bucks but think of the time and money you will be saving. I mean it took me 20 min just to read the lengthy steps posted above, and thats just on how to clean off after the hard part is done. I know not all of us have the money for these things, and some of us are just cheap, but it is a fairly sensible solution.

If you are an inconsiderate jerk with no conscience like me, then there is another way to get it done for less money. Hire a few of the neighborhood kids, they make a few bucks and your flowerbeds get cleared out. (Note: you may get a few angry parents from this exercise; especially sense the doctors bill for the kids to get rid of the poison ivy, will most defiantly cost more then what you paid the kids. But remember you are teaching these kids good fundamentals and strong work habits. So when those parents come at you, be prepared to fire right back at them. Or do what I did and go to the Bahamas for a week to let things cool off. The moral of the story is I now have a tan and poison ivy free flowerbeds, but the rash is someone elses problem.)

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 11:12AM
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Technu works reasonably well if you use it within a short enough time after exposure.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 5:07PM
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I've heard that a goats favorite food is poison ivy. Perhaps you could rent a goat.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 8:43PM
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PLEASE DO NOT LISTEN TO NYWOODSMAN. HE HAS NO IDEA WHAT HE IS TALKING ABOUT. Being allergic to poison ivy is just that - an allergy. Nywoodsman apparently thinks it behaves like bacteria. Just because he didn't get it his whole life does not mean that you wont either. It's strange how people can give such dangerous advice so easily without doing even a minor amount of research.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2008 at 4:25PM
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Thanks everyone for your very helpful info! Just one clarification for NYWoodsman. PI sensitivity tends to increase with exposure. For instance, most people who move to the US from Europe (where there are no urushiol plants) are immune for several years, then eventually become sensitized. That said, a large percentage of people (about 15-20%) are immune and stay that way. You and your children are lucky to be in that category, but what works for you won't work for most people, and what is no big deal for you can be a serious problem for others.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2010 at 12:43PM
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You can die from poison ivy infections, it can get into your eyes, throat and is lethal in certain doses.

50/50 Roundup kills Poison Ivy, buy the concentrate and dilute it yourself. For big hairy tree vines, wear gloves, long sleeves and long handled clippers (the Fischer titanium bladed ones are my weapon of choice) and snip out a 6 inch section. Spray the Roundup on the stump and it will kill it or severely weaken it. Watch for regrowth and spray the leaves heavily.

Never burn, mow, weed wack the stuff, you can get really sick or worse.

For big patches, spray heavily. I finally bought a backpack sprayer and go around several times each spring and summer looking for it on our 14 acres. After 3 years, it's becoming rare to find.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 6:39PM
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don't have enough time to read all the posts, so i will just give my two cents worth. we had poison ivy in everything. i learned that it is best to go to a pharmacy in march and get that homeopathic poison ivy stuff that prevents you from getting it. we do this every year, and while we still get it, it is mild. learn to wear long sleeves, pants, and boots. then bath is epson salts, and when you do your laundry add a cup of epson salts to your bath. this is what the pharmacist said to do. when you get poison ivy run the area under very hot water, removing it when it is too hot. this takes away the itch.

i made the mistake of coverin a plant i didn't want killed with a tarp and removing it after spraying the ivy above it. the plant still died. can't figure that one out.

i have also spent many hours ripping the poison ivy out in places where i didn't wish anything to be killed.

like you it was everywhere, but all we had in our yard when we moved here was honeysuckle, virgina creeper and wild grape vines. i spent two years pulling it all up. now we are working along a fence that has poison ivy, and all that other stuff. we are weedwacking and then i will spray the other side of the fence.

hope you don't lose your good plants.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 2:57PM
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the poison stuff persist in dead poison ivy plants.
Dumb me didn't notcie that the Virgaina Creeper I was pulling out only had three leaves.
Yep, a somewhat mild outbreak on both wrists and ankles.
My current problem is two-fold:
l. I think I threw some of the vines I pulled onto a pile of limbs and branches I was gathering to bag later. How long will that stuff hang around to haunt me and the dog?
2. The PI is growing in the 12" gap left when our neighbors to the rear insisted on running their own fence rather than tieing into ours. I've never encountered PI in my 15 years here ... but it is now rampant in that gap. It is now coming thru the fence which is why i attacked. I can get to the plants with a sprayer and if I don't overdo it I don't think I'll harm any tree, but If I spray with Roundup, I;m guessing that the dead vines will still be toxic.

Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   June 20, 2010 at 7:41PM
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I know that not everyone's experiences (or sensitivity) to Poison Ivy is the same, so take this as a biased account.

As a child, I was extremely allergic to PI. The doctor told my mother that if I stood to close to PI and the wind blew, I would get it (no doubt a bit of exaggeration, there).

Nevertheless, when I moved onto 3.5 acres absolutely covered in ths stuff, I had to do something. I had children and pets - the children were allergic, and the pets would carry the oil in on their fur.

I started pulling the PI out of the ground. In my opinion, it is the only thing that has worked (and a lot less expensive and damaging than sprays). It is remarkably easy to pull up, in my wooded area. Yes, you have to do it several times -- but it will die. The only exception are the large vines established on tree -- I cut a gap in the vine at the base of the tree, then pull out what I can.

Yes, it is important to learn to dress for poision ivy removal and remove clothing (do not forget shoes) appropriately -- there have been some excellent posts about this. One of the best tips I ever heard was to walk in the house, stand in front of the washing machine, and strip, throwing everything (including shoes) into the washer immediately. Then walk naked to the bathroom and do the pre-shower and shower thing (not hot water).

Even doing the protective things, I still got the PI rash from pulling poison ivy. I persevered. For a few years, I resigned myself to getting poison ivy at least once a year, and I focused on controlling and eradicating the rash that prevention did not . . . prevent. (By the way, I am sure no doctor will tell you this, and it is only for the very, very brave, but I open up the rash using very warm water in the bath or shower and then pour alchohol on it. It dries the rash up very quickly, but it stings, to say the least. Note that this is only for after the rash appears and NEVER a technique for the head/face.) Always, always go to a doctor if the rash is near your eyes (or avoid getting it on your face at all, of course).

So, a few years (3-5?) of pulling the vines and getting the rash commenced. The poison ivy was largely eradicated from the areas I was focusing on. Then I noticed something. I stopped getting the rash as badly.

I can still get poison ivy if I am not cautious about it, but the rash is definitely getting less and less severe as time goes by.

So . . . I am NOT suggesting anyone go rolling around in poison ivy. But I do support the idea that with common sense and proper precaution, you can both eliminate the PI from your yard and build up a sort of resistance to it.

I will continue to pull poison ivy as I extend the areas I cultivate. I will continue to use proper precautions as good common sense. At the rate I am going, I very well may end up losing the allergic reaction entirely.

Hope this helps,


    Bookmark   March 9, 2011 at 2:29PM
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Well, I'm one of those who grew up playing in poison ivy. As a teen I went camping and was sitting in a patch of it...still no reaction . Again and again I was exposed, with no reaction. Not until last year, when I was 52, did I react to the urushiol -- I was pulling up poison ivy in my yard with my bare hands like I always did through the years, and I ended up getting a rash on my arm. It was only 2 inches by 3 inches, but it sure was itchy. I can't imagine how it must feel to react badly to it. Now I take precautions, though I'm probably not as careful as I should be. So, nywoodsman, don't be too cocky....reactions to urushiol can happen afterall, even if you're usually not reactive. I have found that pulling the poison ivy up early in the spring before major growth occurs is easiest. There's still more that always needs to be removed, but it isn't as much of a pain if you consistently remove it when you see it beginning to grow. I just got in from my garden where it's been trying to invade for the past few years. I pulled a lot of it up, but I'm sure there'll be more. I have the same problem of not wanting to lose the other plants in this bed, so I deal with the monotony of pulling it up all year instead. There are landscapers who deal ONLY with poison ivy removal; you could check them out in your area....good luck!

    Bookmark   May 9, 2011 at 4:23PM
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My uncle and I could walk barefoot threw PI and not get 1 red bump. My brother his son and my mother I swear could look at a pic on the internet and have to go to a doctor. Needless to say when it came time to sheer the sheep they didn't have to help. Gramp got a few spots every few years. The clothing strip procedure is a standered for restricted pesticide. We have a seperate room and washing machine for that (Non heated so shower is cold even if warm water lol)

    Bookmark   May 20, 2011 at 12:40PM
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Poison Ivy is beneficial it attracts and feeds a lot of song birds. The big problem is we are producing more carbon dioxide and we are experiencing super plant growth now. It s the earths way to try and stabilize the situation.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 6:16AM
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For years, I was never allergic to the evil weeds, but once I spent hours pulling the stuff out around a large tree (I believe, naively without gloves) and I got a nasty rash that taught me a BIG lesson. Now, it zaps me any chance it gets when I happen to even slightly touch the stuff. Really, I am amazed by the power this weed has over so many of us. I almost feel like the powerful oils could be made into a "weapon", and I also suprised that scientists haven't figured out a better way to strip out these offending oils and eradicate this stuff. Right now, I am facing a significant patch in a flower bed, partially vining up a nearby fence. I guess I will go for the big pullout tactic, fingers crossed for the best results. I wish there would be something systemic that enters the ivy to destroy it without harming the soil or nearby plants. Although it is tempting, . I'm not planning to go the Roundup route. I have an asparagus bed in the area and I don't want any poisons in my ground and particularly in my food source plantings.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2013 at 11:13PM
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Poison ivy will remain toxic for a long time. I once put some in a plastic bag for demonstration purposes, to show people what it looked like when I was giving a talk on native plants. It hung on a nail on the wall for 2 years. Then I picked it up, handled it to look at it, to throw away.
Next day I had a rash. That plastic bag was permeable and the oils were on the outside of it!

When I pull small amounts of it, I put a plastic bag over my hand, pull it and pull the bag over the plant, tying the top to throw in the trash.

If it is growing on a tree, I have cut it at the bottom and put a drop or two of brush killer on the cut stem. It kills the root.

Technu does work. There is also a pre-wash that you can use BEFORE you handle the stuff, and a wash for you to use after. I always wash with it after if I am out in the woods, as sometimes I get blindsided with it if I don't see it. I even shower with it. Better safe than sorry.

As a young person I was never allergic to it, but then one day I was working in the garden, and pulling out poison ivy with the weeds, I got done and went inside to scrub my dirty hands. A few minutes later I went outside to look at what I had been doing, saw a bit of poison ivy I'd missed, and pulled it out. Next day I had a rash, and I've been allergic to it ever since. I think that by washing my hands I removed the protective skin oils, and the urushiol contacted my clean skin, and that was that.

Poison ivy can be a vine, also in bush form. I have seen large bushes of it, and it will grow with virginia creeper, hiding in there. Even seedlings can give you a rash, so be careful pulling them!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2013 at 10:30AM
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bibbus 7b(7b)

So I have a big clump of calla lily foliage that is dying back and I just noticed there is a 8 inch piece of poison ivy growing in the middle. Any suggestions about how to handle. Should I just let the foilage die back completely and then spray the poison ivy? I am very sensitive to poison ivy. It looks too big to pull it up without breaking off the roots.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2013 at 6:40PM
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currentriverdenny(7 semo)

I have very little sensitivity to PI but most of my family members are highly sensitive to it. The is a wonderful and free treatment for the rash. Make a poultice of jewel weed impatiens capensis and it will dry the rash in about24 hours not mention stopping the itch immediately! If you have PI anywhere near you this is a must have plant in your flower garden!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2013 at 12:58AM
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I' m very sensitive to PI. The first few times I went to the doctor and took prescription steroids to get rid of the rash, which would appear even on areas that were not exposed initially and last for weeks. I try to avoid contact with it now, but if I am inadvertently exposed, I take an over the counter allergy pill such as Allegra for a day or two. It prevents the rash from developing.


    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 12:10AM
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Old thread, but what the hey, may as well add my $.02:

Poison ivy is indeed a food source for a variety of birds that we like to have around. To suppose that any native plant is of no value is immediately suspect in my view.

The use of "hand-wicking" may be the most useful technique for many situations. Place a proper chemical resistant glove over your dominant hand, place a cheap cotton work glove over this, and with the other hand, hold onto a small spray bottle of glyphosate-based herbicide, mixed on the strong side. Spray small amounts onto your gloved hand, then wipe or swipe this liquid onto the target vegetation. Tedious but it works.

I agree with the sentiment that susceptibility to the toxin in this and related plants can increase over time. I used to be able to walk barefoot through a patch, suffering no effects. Then one day, I was foolishly cutting down a tree that had a viney plant growing up its trunk. Hot day and I was shirtless. Suffice to say that the chips being thrown off that saw chain, striking me in the chest and abdomen, set off quite a severe case of the rash. Now, I can get the unwanted effects from P.I. more easily than used to be the case. Luckily, I don't face the situation of this thread's O.P. When I am in the vicinity of this plant, I just avoid contacting it. BTW, the red fall foliage color combined with the beautiful white fruit is quite striking. I like to see it when I can.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2013 at 10:41AM
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I grew up in Florida and Deep East Texas. I NEVER had a pi outbreak until I hit my sixties. From that point on I have been extremely sensitive to pi, po and sumac. I found that the bleach idea works well but I had to use some really strong stuff in an area where pi was the only plant around. It killed everything else but the tough field grass came back the next growing season. Thank goodness for that. I really appreciate the suggestions on clothing. I just never thought about reinfecting myself with shoes or hose. Here in Deep East Texas this stuff grows rampant. It is a constant fight each and every year. Thanks again for the suggestions guys.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 12:04PM
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I just read a recipe for a poison ivy killer that is made of simple ingredients.
You mix one gallon of vinegar (the new product, Heinz Cleaning Vinegar that is 6% acidity would be great for this),
1 cup salt
2 Tablespoons of Blue Dawn dish detergent
Put it in a spray bottle and you have less toxic product than Round-Up that will take care of the problem.

You still can't spray it on your plants but at least you won't harm you kids or pets. It would be better to use it on a hot day with no rain in sight. Several applications might be needed.

I plan to try this right away.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 1:21PM
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I want to thank greasybeans for the comment on the safer spray made from household ingredients. I am going to try it ASAP. Will post how it works after trying. The poison ivy this year is going gangbusters. Growing like a weed..LOL

    Bookmark   May 21, 2014 at 7:39PM
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I'd rate that recipe as at least equal in toxicity to glyphosate-to pets, children, what have you. Were you intending to have your kids and pets roll around in the plants after application (of either material)? No, of course not. Using glyphosate-type herbicide in a targeted manner, ie, hand-wicking, painting on, etc. is one of the most benign vegetation control practices there is. On the other hand, the copious amount of salt in that home-made "safe" product will remain in your planting beds more or less indefinitiely, causing plant health problems far into the future. Not a good one, IMO.


    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:13AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We have poison ivy to take out every year. Our neighbor has it growing unchecked in his yard and it comes over the fence and shows up in other parts of the garden. Not sure if birds are dropping seeds or not. I garden organically and we have never used a chemical on it. We do a spring search for the plants, My husband wears long sleeves, disposable gloves, and a plastic bag over his hand to pull them out by hand and uses a trowel if needed. He's very careful of what touches his clothes and shoes and the plants are disposed in plastic bags in the rubbish. He rarely has gotten any kind of rash on him and the one or two times in 30 years he got a small rash, he was just not being careful enough. That works for us.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 8:23AM
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Just reading through here..........bleach is about the last thing I'd ever use in my yard. Wouldn't it be impossible to get out of the soil?

To get rid of poison ivy, undiluted, full-strength RoundUp carefully painted on a few leaves usually does the trick.

I use the woody plants formula (white and yellow jug with yellow cap) and a soft brush narrow enough to dip right into the container. A soft brush is less likely to drip than a stiff brush, and more precise than a squirt bottle or spray.

Usually I'm walking around with a small handsaw, so I position the leaf to lay on top of the saw end when I paint it. That way I can fully cover the leaf with no drips.

I tend to leave poison ivy in areas I don't need to frequent. It's a native plant with reason enough for being there.

I've become a lot less concerned about contact since I found that if I take a full shower within 4 hours, I'll be fine. If I do get a rash, Benadryl Itch Cooling Spray works wonders!

Okay, that's my two cents.......

    Bookmark   May 22, 2014 at 10:41PM
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I have neighbors who built a house on the heavily wooded lot behind my back fence. That lot was overrun with poison ivy. They "borrowed" a few of goats for a while and let them have the run of the (fenced) area. It seems goats love poison ivy and will even pull the vines down from the trees to eat it.
My Mother-in-law always grew an old-fashioned plant she called "Touch Me Not". It had small orange flowers and seed pods that popped open and curled back when touched. When crushed and rubbed on the skin, it is a natural antidote .to poison ivy. I haven't seen that plant around for a while, I'd really love to have some, she also made a healing salve from it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 12:18PM
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The plant is jewel weed impatiens capansis..... Supposed to stop poison ivy rash in its tracks....

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 7:53AM
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Anyone else remember back when the home remedy of choice for poison ivy rash was white shoe polish? ( The liquid kind with the little sponge in the bottle). In the summer you could always see polka-dotted kids running around the neighborhood.,

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:49PM
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Another way that has worked for me when I was a gardener on a golf course was to take some rich soil and spread it all over my arms. The soil soaks the oil instead of the skin. Of course it is a very dirty way to prevent pi but it worked for me. Of course if you are severely allergic to pi err on the side of caution and take more elaborate steps or hire a professional.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2014 at 10:31AM
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