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Poison Ivy

 
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My husband and I bought a home and property (in the US) last Fall, which is being transitioned to permaculture.  There was a dead tree on the property  in the front yard that had to be removed, which was covered with poison ivy. Now that Spring has arrived the poison ivy is growing back.  Unfortunately it is not in an out of the way place, but is in the main part of our yard, close to where we are growing food and where we have a bench.  It is also of concern to me for my young grandchildren. I know everything has a purpose, but for the safety of all I feel this needs to be removed.

My question is, does anyone know a successful way to remove it without using any kinds of herbicides or poisons?  

Thank you!
 
pollinator
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Sorry to hear about your poison ivy.

I too have suffered with poison ivy rashes in the past.  Yuck.

I suppose the best way to go after the plant is to go after the root.  I have had poison ivy like this my yard and I eventually went out with a rake and shovel and carefully pulled loose the roots.  Poison ivy likes to send out shallow roots all over (just under actually) the ground.  About every 2’-4’ it will pop up a new batch of leaves.  

When I first tried tackling mine, I first used roundup.  I hit every batch of leaves I could find.  It did not matter as I could not kill enough of the root to make any difference.  Eventually I went out and carefully pulled up almost 200’ of roots!  I eventually traced the poison ivy to a main root by a tree.  I cut the vine crawling up the tree with a shovel.  I did spray roundup again, but this time only on the leaves coming straight out from that tap root.

The use of Roundup is a highly contentious issue here at Permies and the general rule of thumb is to not to recommend its use.  When I killed that poison ivy root I mentioned above, it was almost 20 years ago and my yard and gardening habits were much different than today.  While 20 years ago I went after that poison ivy root with Roudup without a second thought, I am not so certain that I would try this technique today knowing what we do about the effects of roundup in the environment.  Perhaps a safer and more Permie approach to killing the root would involve using vinegar to kill the remaining plant.  I am not trying to advocate the widespread use of herbicide here, I am only talking about a highly targeted use of the herbicide (if vinegar is to be classified as such) on a specific plant in a specific place.  Since I had pulled out all of the lateral roots, the remaining root became much more vulnerable.  I would be willing to bet that repeated use of vinegar on that last batch of poison ivy leaves just above the taproot would have done in the plant for good.


At any rate, once the poison ivy is contained, then deny it everything it needs to live.  Approaches might include denying it sunlight, deny it the ability to grow (cut it off immediately if it start to grow), smother it.  Sever, remove and kill the roots.  Use vinegar if you have to.  Eventually the vine will die.



I hope this helps,  and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Eric
 
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I haven't dealt with poison-ivy, but I'd use a flame-weeder on it if you have access to one. If not, maybe start a fire on top of it.

Naturally, if you're playing with fire, wait until a day or two after a decent rain, to dramatically lesson a chance of fire spreading. Make sure you already have a garden hose set up and nearby before you even start.

After burning it, several days later (so the fire is entirely out), I'd spread clear-plastic painting drop-clothes over the ground there pulled relatively straight and held down with rocks, and bake everything under it by the summer heat for four or five weeks if you get anything up in the 90°F's or higher.
In fall, I'd remove the plastic, and spread cardboard on top of where it used to be, and a large pile of woodchips if you got access to any (otherwise, just multiple layers of cardboard you can get from your local recycling center). And then wait two years, pull up some of the cardboard (if any remains - cardboard decay varies by the moisture in your area) and see if there's anything growing underneath it. If not, then spread the woodchips back down and plant some fruit trees in that location. =)

Regardless of how you go about killing it, I'd still cover it with cardboard and pile on woodchips and wait several years - where one weed is, there may be more.
 
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Please do NOT burn your poison ivy!

https://permies.com/t/267/Clearing-poison-ivy
 
Joni McKeown
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Burning poison ivy is not an option as it can get into your lungs.  It is also in an odd place by a stone wall so digging it up won't work. I may try my best to starve it by constantly removing leaves.  Ot perhaps will have to go to more extreme measures.

Thank you for the replies everyone!
 
pollinator
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Get a goat - they love the stuff!
 
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Luckily I've never had to do a big poison ivy removal like this, but I have done some other vine removal, just by pulling it up as much as possible every time it comes up, and trying to pull up as much roots as possible every time.

I AM very sensitive to poison ivy, and so was my father, and we have always used a method that is very effective for preventing the rash, if you know you might have been exposed. I've even pulled up the vines intentionally with bare hands, and then prevented the rash. The rash is caused by an oil called urushiol that gets from the plant on to your skin, and then over the course of several hours goes deeper into your skin and causes the rash, which as I'm sure you know, only shows up a few days later. The roots and dormant winter stems also can cause a horrendous rash too (ask me how I know). But if you wash the oil off very thoroughly with soap or detergent after you think you might have been exposed, you won't get the rash. You also have to think carefully about any ways you may have spread the oil onto something else that you might touch later, such as your shoes, or the insides of the sleeves of a jacket (ask me how I know that one), and make sure to wash everything that might be carrying the oil. You don't need special detergent. I've used whatever soap or detergent was around, and it works, but I'm very reactive and have some horrendous childhood memories of poison ivy, so I usually lather up and rinse down twice, and make sure to remove any relevant clothing directly into the washing machine. That always prevents the rash for me. I've even gone back to wipe down a doorknob with soap. When I do get the rash, it is always when I didn't know I was exposed and so I didn't wash in time. I don't know how many hours exactly is the cut-off time, but I always tried to do it within a couple of hours and it has seemed to work.

So you could do a massive cut-down-dig-up once, and then every time it resprouts, pull up all that you can find. Be sure to do it when you are wearing washable shoes or rubber sandals or something, and head straight to the washing machine and sink or shower afterwards.

Covering the whole area with a very light-proof tarp for the whole season might do the trick with hands off -- it does kill most plants, except a few that have vigorous root systems and can traverse and come out of the sides, out into the sun.
 
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The only way I can get close enough to poisonous Ivy, Oak or Sumac is to use a disposable Tyvek suit with booties Tyvek suit with boots
And thick disposable gloves along with a face shield. With this setup I can pull the stuff to my hearts content and then bag the entire outer wear for disposal.

I once got the Urushiol into my blood stream and now it seems even looking at any of the three can cause me to break into the rash.
I came up with the disposable suit idea out of necessity and so far it works a treat but I still keep Teknu soap in the house just incase.
I will be suiting up again this year since I have discovered about 1000 sq. ft. of the stuff on the back side of the hog area and it simply has to go.

I've even gotten the rash from one of our dogs that ran through a patch of it and I didn't know it until a day after I had play time with the dog.

Redhawk
 
Eric Hanson
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Poison ivy is really no fun to have.  I too get the rash/allergy easily.  I don’t need a tyvek suit, but I seem to get the stuff every summer and I need steroid cream to take care of it.  My experience is that the earlier you start to treat the rash, the less severe the rash.

Typically when I have had to get rid of poison ivy it was a vine or two.  I am not certain what I would do with a large area covered with the stuff.

Eric
 
pollinator
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:The only way I can get close enough to poisonous Ivy, Oak or Sumac is to use a disposable Tyvek suit with booties Tyvek suit with boots
And thick disposable gloves along with a face shield. With this setup I can pull the stuff to my hearts content and then bag the entire outer wear for disposal.

I once got the Urushiol into my blood stream and now it seems even looking at any of the three can cause me to break into the rash.
I came up with the disposable suit idea out of necessity and so far it works a treat but I still keep Teknu soap in the house just incase.
I will be suiting up again this year since I have discovered about 1000 sq. ft. of the stuff on the back side of the hog area and it simply has to go.

I've even gotten the rash from one of our dogs that ran through a patch of it and I didn't know it until a day after I had play time with the dog.

Redhawk



I'm sorry to hear how allergic you are -- I know it must be miserable from seeing how badly it affects some folks. I guess I am one of the very lucky ones -- I never get poison ivy at all. I could roll in it. I even ate some once on a dare. (I was a stupid teenager, what can I say.) I am completely unallergic (if that is even a word). I read somewhere that about 80% of the population is allergic, but neither I nor my husband is allergic to it. What are the odds? (Both my sons are allergic and one of them is severely allergic, so I guess the immunity is not inherited. If he even thinks poison ivy is within a mile of him he breaks out all over.)

At any rate, if I were the OP, I would try to find one of the 20% and get him or her to pull it up and bag it for you.
 
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I am another who is highly allergic to this demon vine.  

There was a patch of it around the base of a tree and after ignoring it for 15 years, it had risen to the top of now dead tree and spread out in a huge patch.  I would have continued to ignore it if my cat did not wallow in it and then rub all over my face, neck and chest.  I missed two days of work, had two rounds of prednisone and a steroid shot but still was miserable.

I eradicated it by covering my hands and forearms with bread bags and methodically pulling it up over a period of a month or so. In order to keep the vines from swinging around, I would pull a piece of the vine and "fold" it up using my bag covered hand. Repeat until I had a large handful or the bag began slipping down my arm.  At this point, I would pull the opening of the bag (by my elbow) away from my arm, encasing the poison ivy in the bag, then throw the lot into a contractor bag that was folded open over a trash can, making sure the bread bags did not come in contact with the top 15-20 inches of the bag.  Then I would tie it closed and dispose of it.

I keep bags on hand for the occasional stray plant and have great luck keeping it under control.  Spring is the best time to get at it, before the leaves are so large and floppy.
 
pollinator
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If you are not in a hurry to put the space to immediate use, you could smother it with a heavy sheet mulch.  If you use cardboard you may have to renew it for 2 or 3 years till it quits sprouting.  Another possibility is to use something like scrap carpet, laid in overlapping courses like you would cardboard, and then taken up after a few years when you are sure the ivy is dead under there.  You might even be able to set containers or make temporary raised beds on top of this, so as to get yield from that area, since the ivy will be sequestered underneath.
 
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Jewelweed!  Works great. I couldn't find any growing on my land so I ordered some soap and salve from Amazon. Don't remember the brand but the label is green and it's sold as a pair. When I've been working anywhere near the poison stuff, I shower with the soap and cool water. If any itching starts, rub the salve on. I used to have to go to the doctor but haven't been since I found this, at least 4 years.
 
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Marie Grace wrote:Jewelweed!  Works great. I couldn't find any growing on my land so I ordered some soap and salve from Amazon. Don't remember the brand but the label is green and it's sold as a pair. When I've been working anywhere near the poison stuff, I shower with the soap and cool water. If any itching starts, rub the salve on. I used to have to go to the doctor but haven't been since I found this, at least 4 years.



Yes, jewelweed works!  I'm highly allergic to poison ivy and mentioned that to the woman we buy our milk from. She gave me some jewelweed salve she'd made and though I was (highly) skeptical, I used it the next time I got a rash. It worked better than any of the over the counter creams I'd tried. Now I keep it on hand. Not surprisingly, knowing the efficiency of Mother Nature, jewelweed grows right next to poison ivy.
 
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