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Our Mulch Had Poison Ivy In It

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Question:

I held a wedding reception at our home a few years ago. The guys put mulch around the trees and house. I found out the mulch also had poison ivy in it. Now the trees and yard are covered with the stuff and I'm severely allergic to it. What can I use to kill it off with out hurting the trees and grass?

Hardiness Zone: 5-6

Nellie from Franklin, IN

Answer:

Nellie,

Unfortunately, I can't think of a product that will selectively kill poison ivy without damaging your trees and grass. Poison ivy is difficult to eradicate, especially if you're severely allergic to it. Still, it's not impossible, but it will take persistence. When working around it, cover yourself from head to toe in heavy clothing. Wear plastic bags over your shoes and change your clothes frequently, scrubbing yourself down with soap and water in-between changes of clothes. Wear gloves on your hands that you can dispose of after use. Also, as you work with the plants, put one of your gloved hands inside a large trash bag so you can use the bag like an outer glove. As you gather up roots and stems, fold the garbage bag over them to minimize contact with clothing.

Poison ivy can produce an allergic reaction in any season, but the safest time to work on getting rid of it is in the fall or spring when the leaves are gone and the plant is in its dormant stage. Try clipping the vines down to within 1 inch of the ground and never let them grow any higher. The poison ivy will continue to send up shoots, but the over time the plant will become weakened from a lack of above ground foliage. In the spring when the ground has thawed but the plant is still dormant, try pulling or digging out the roots in areas where there are only small patches. You can mark these areas with stakes now so you can identify their locations in the spring. Where possible, it can also help to cover areas with black plastic sheeting. The plastic should be secured tightly and left for several months; this includes wrapping it around tree trunks covered in the vines.

Don't ever mow the plants, as broken bits of the stems, leaves and roots all contain the noxious oils. Don't burn any of the plants, either. The resulting smoke can cause severe lung damage if inhaled.

Good luck!
Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Recent Answers

Here are the recent answer to this question.

By Laura Justice [2]09/14/2006

I am also severely allergic to ivy, oak and sumac-- if I get another dose like the last time-- trying to rid my daughter's back yard of oak-- I will be in hospital!! Probably in ICU.
These folks have given you good advice-- I'll add one more-- hire someone to do the application-- don't do it yourself-- with this strong a reaction-- there is no way you cannot get a dose.
I wish you very good luck

By Qryztufre [4]09/14/2006

To help thwart the blowing of your Rounup you can use cardboard. Hold the cardboard between what you are spraying and whatever is behind it. You'll minimize the effects of the Roundup on the other plants.

And as Chris (we got the same name ;)) said above just kill off the grass and re-seed later...it'll be a headache, but it'll save you a bigger one trying to not spray it. Read the instructions on your roundup before using and it'll tell you when you can replant.

___________________

If you are daring, and got the time...

* Use roundup, wait a week (to allow the ivy to die off)
* Till the area to break up the roots
*Wait till the ivy comes back
* repeat

This will take several applications, but I've found as the ivy is, well, an ivy, getting to ALL of the roots is nearly impossible. By breaking the soil you are causing the roots to seperate & re-grow. Then by spraying again, you'll find you're getting more of the ivy then just by spraying the leaves.

_________

I'm not allergic to the poison plants so I just dig in with my hands *evil grin* but the better majority of the population is not like me...so you'll have to find someone like me, or do it all the hard way.

_________

IMPORTANT NOTES:
* Wear Gloves & wash them throughly as SOON as you are done working
* DO NOT BURN the poison ivy (not even the dead stuff). You'll get the oils in your mouth & lungs and trust me, that AIN'T PURDY!
* If you use an off-brand of roundup, be sure it's active ingredients match (including the amount of them).
* I personally double the mix when killing ivies, it tends to work better (though, that sticky stuff Chris said should likely do the trick)

By Chris (Guest Post)09/13/2006

You could apply a roundup or roundup type product (one with the active ingredient Glyphosate or Glufosinate) to the Poison ivy growing on the tree. Poison Ivy has waxy leaves so you would need to mix a non-ionic surfactant usuall just sold as "spreader sticker" to your mix to get it to stick to the leaves. Make sure you apply when there is no breeze so as to avoid drift onto the grass. As far as in the lawn, you would likely just need to wear long sleeves, gloves and dig it out by the roots and put in a garbage bag, unless it is so intermingled with the lawn, you may just be better off spraying the grass as well as the ivy and just reseed later. Since roundup and other roundup like products have no residual soil activity you could safely resse shortly after the poison ivy was dead. Cbond156 (at) hotmail.com

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