How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Plants in 5 Steps

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Poison ivy can flourish in all sorts of weather and soil conditions, so it can easily grow out of control. This is a very big problem because poison ivy is so highly toxic. If you touch the plant, you can get an itchy rash, blisters, or more severe allergic reactions. To get rid of poison ivy, you will need to actually eradicate the plant without coming into contact with it. These steps will show you how to get rid of poison ivy plants without destroying your yard or getting a rash.

Step 1: Dress Carefully

Before you get started, you need to make sure you are prepared for the task. The urushiol resin in poison ivy can be very abrasive to skin. It is best to wear long sleeves and long pants made of a thick fabric. Be wary of a thin fabric because the sap can seep through. Use rubber boots, and tuck the tops of your pants into the boots. It is absolutely essential that you have rubber gloves to protect your hands. Since the ivy vines may snap or spray sap, you may want a breathing mask and goggles to protect your face.

Step 2: Remove the Poison Ivy

Pick a day when you have a lot of free time and there is no wind blowing. Your first task in learning how to get rid of poison ivy plants will be to remove all the visible vines. You have a few different methods available for killing off the exposed vines.

2.1 Pull Out the Vines

To pull out the vines, all you need to do is grasp the vine firmly at the base and yank. This method is quite effective because it takes out a lot of roots too. However, ripping the vines does put more toxic urushiol in the air. If you pick this method, you will definitely need a mask and goggles.

2.2 Clip the Vines

A slightly less messy and exhausting method is just cutting the plants down. You can use pruners, shears, or even a weed wacker. To use this method, all you need to do is clip the plants as close to the ground as possible.

2.3 Kill With an Herbicide

Either a natural or homemade herbicide can be very effective. Use the highest possible safe concentration because poison ivy can be quite resilient. This method of removing ivy may take a few days to complete. You may want to apply it one day and wait a few days. Once the plant begins to show signs of dying, you can remove it by hand.

2.4 Smother the Vines

If you do not want to use an herbicide or remove the plants by hand, smothering can work well. This method takes a bit more time, but it does effectively kill the poison ivy. To smother the plant, all you have to do is put a heavy sheet of plastic, cardboard, or wood on it. Wait until the lack of sunlight kills the plant, and then remove the dead bits. Keep in mind that it may be tricky to remove large patches this way.

Step 3: Get Rid of the Roots

Once you get rid of all the visible vines and leaves, it is time to deal with the roots. Finding out how to get rid of poison ivy plants is pointless if the poison ivy might just grow back. Try to dig out any visible roots that you see. However, it is normally impossible to get all small root remnants. You can try pouring boiling water over the area several times to kill the roots. This method is not always foolproof however. In some cases, it may be best to just apply a chemical weed killer with glyphosate or triclopyr in it.

Step 4: Dispose Ivy Properly

As you rip out the ivy, you should put it into plastic garbage bags. Tie these bags securely and set them out with your other lawn trash. Avoid attempting any other method of disposal. Composting the vines can end up completely destroying a batch of compost. If you burn the plants, they can release smoke that greatly damages the lungs.

Step 6: Prevent Regrowth

Gardeners struggle to figure out how to get rid of poison ivy plants because it is so hard to kill. Even if you think you have gotten all of the roots, they may show up again. One effective method for stopping regrowth is sheet mulching. This involves laying a biodegradable layer of cardboard or newspaper on top of the area. Then you layer some compost and a thick layer of wood chips on top.

Sheet mulching lets you thoroughly kill off any remaining ivy while nourishing the soil. After several months, you can plant something else on the area. It may take time to recover if you used harsh herbicides. Avoid planting anything you plan to eat on the area for at least a year. Urushiol can linger and infect edible foods.

Step 5: Clean Up Carefully

Poison ivy is so damaging that you may break out if you touch something that touched ivy days ago. Carefully disinfect any tools used to touch poison ivy with rubbing alcohol. Rinse off your shoes and gloves with a garden hose before taking them off. To further remove the urushiol, wash your clothes with hot, soapy water thoroughly. Do not touch the clothes or other tools with exposed skin until they are clean.

Final Thoughts

The main thing to remember when learning how to get rid of poison ivy plants is protecting your skin. You will need to wear thick clothing to avoid coming in contact with the sap or surface of the plant. In order to fully remove poison ivy, you will need to make sure the roots are also destroyed. The above methods can be very helpful for managing a poison ivy outbreak.

Have you ever had to deal with poison ivy in your yard? Leave a comment below to share your tips for getting rid of poison ivy!

Jonathan E. Bass
 

Graduated from Middle Tennessee State University. I am currently a gardener. I have a small garden behind my house. I love it.

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