How to Control Poison Ivy

Marilyn Pokorney

Poison ivy is found throughout southern Canada and most of the United States except Alaska and Hawaii. It is readily found along road sides, fences, railroads, and streams. But it can also be found in your own back yard. It is planted there in bird droppings from the birds who eat the berries of the plant.

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So how does one get rid of the rash producing plant? Here are some tips:

  • Poison Ivy control is most effective May through July while the plants are flowering.

  • Pulling out the plant with rubber gloves is temporarily effective but the plants roots will regrow.

  • Never burn it as the smoke from the burning plant can cause very serious respiratory and eye problems.

  • Mowing the plant will eventually kill it but be sure to use a mower with a collection bag and don't touch the remains when emptying it. This method will take several years to completely eradicate the plant from your yard.

  • Don't use a weed-eater as that will only spread the broken pieces of the plant everywhere. Dried poison ivy is just as poisonous as fresh. It is said that even 100 year old leaves can still cause a reaction.

  • Suffocation with black plastic has been known to work. This too takes time.

  • An organic method consists of spraying the plant with salt water. A ratio of one cup salt to a gallon of water with a few drops of liquid soap added to help the mixture adhere to the plant.

  • Broadleaf herbicides work but will kill any neighboring plants. Usually poison ivy is intertwined among plants that you want to keep, including trees. Using selective herbicides like Roundup can be applied to the plant stems as they are cut off to prevent resprouting.

No matter what control method you use, be careful to avoid exposing your skin to the plant. Wear gloves, long pants, socks and shoes, and a long-sleeved shirt.

About The Author: Copyright: 2005 Marilyn Pokorney - Freelance writer of science, nature, animals and the environment. Also loves crafts, gardening, and reading. http://www.apluswriting.net

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May 6, 20060 found this helpful

Thanks for the organic tip for killing poison ivy with salt water. Anymore detailed suggestions on spraying it and what is this method's success rate?

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April 14, 20070 found this helpful

I had a huge vine growing up the side of a tree. I took a small hatchet and cut through the vine at the ground level and again as high as I could reach, and using garden gloves, pulled that section off the tree. Then I dug as much as I could get out from the base of the tree. Every time I saw a new sprout start in that area, I dug it out. By fall, it had completely stopped sending up new shoots.

Harlean from Arkansas

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