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poison ivy in wooded area

 
Devin Gray
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Hey guys, new the forum. Got a question about poison ivy. I know its a topic that has been brought up before, but I couldnt find a good answer for my particular situation so Im reaching out here.

We recently moved to a new house on a great small (< 1 acre) property. It is a wooded lot, the only one in the area so its like an oasis of trees, very nice. The problem is that growing amongst all these beautiful trees and other undergrowth is copius amounts of poison ivy, and possibly sumac and oak. The long term goal is to slowly transition this property into a small food forest, but even for the more immediate future, I would love for my son (now 2 yrs old) and dog/cats to be able to run around and explore this wonderful tiny forest.

What can I do to control the ivy/sumac/oak without hurting to much else in the immediate sense, with a long term goal of irradicating it completely during the food forest conversion?

Thanks for any help!
 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I have poison oak because I am on the west coast. What I have been doing is taking a spray bottle and filling it with vinegar and adding small pinch of salt and a few drops dish soap. I spray that on the plants and they hate it.

I also plan to cover some areas of it with cardboard and 6 or more inches of mulch and then plant ground covers that may out compete it. like mint and thyme and maybe some clover.

I have not done much yet so I can't say how well this will work in the long run. so far the poison oak is at least very unhappy
 
Devin Gray
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I was planning on the cardboarding and mulching, thats where my mind went to first. Good thinking with the vinegar/soap water, Ill give that a try.
 
Fred Morgan
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Location: Northern Zone, Costa Rica - 200 to 300 meters Tropical Humid Rainforest
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People who are decedents of the original inhabitants of the land tend to not be very sensitive to poison ivy - I know it is true for me. My wife can't come near the stuff, and yet I can pull it out by the handfuls, without protection. The only time I had any reaction is when my brother and I made firewood out of logs covered with the stuff, and even then, it wasn't very bad.

Saying that to say if you can get some workers who are Mexican or from most of the areas south of the border, most of them have no issues with poison ivy.

 
Meryt Helmer
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Location: west marin, bay area california. sandy loam, well drained, acidic soil and lots of shade
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I have a tiny bit of native american in me. I am mostly dutch, swedish and basque but I am not at all allergic to poison oak and neither are my children. I have met many people who only became allergic to it later in life so even though I am not allergic I am trying to get rid of the stuff from paths and parts of my property that my children like to play.

I wanted to add that the stuff I spray on the poison oak here it is pure vinegar with no water added and just a small pinch of salt and a few drops straight dish soap. there are recipes online with proportions written down. I don't measure though when I do this. it needs to be sprayed on often to be very effective. it does work though to make the plants very unhappy and look like they could die.
 
Dan Grubbs
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If you are at a stage in your property development to have a goat or two, you may consider having them on the property. They love poison ivy and will often eat that first before other forbs. If you have good perimiter fencing, then a goat(s) might be a good option for you. They will convert your poison ivy into meat/milk. Just a thought.
 
Devin Gray
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Thanks for all the swift replies folks! Very interesting about the native tolerance. I am part Native American and have also never had a serious reaction to the stuff, but never thought to put the two together! Even still though, with the little one and my wife Im not sure and would rather not risk having to find out.

Goats will definitely be coming, but not for at least a couple years, havent gotten the place fenced or anything yet.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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I will second those that have suggested finding a landscaper...or such that are tolerant. I made a fair piece of coin during my school years as an Arborist and landscaper...part of my specialty was climbing large "poison ivy" vines and removing them. As has been stated, it would seem that "native folk," don't react to the stuff (kind'a like goats) and I only get a black scab where the sap is left on my skin overnight.

So between "the tolerante," some goats, and due diligence...I think you will solves this problem without to much worry...

Regards,

j
 
Fred Morgan
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One thing that should be obvious, if you are tolerant of poison ivy, you should was very well with soap, before you touch someone who isn't.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Fred, that is an understatement, and I am really glad you brought that up. When I first started doing this kind of work as a teen, I had a neighbors Golden Retriever come over at lunch to visit and wrestling with me...never did I think at the time that the dog would go home and git in bed with a five year old little girl!! She ended up in the ER for my poor judgment...which the family was very understanding about...I felt horrible for the pain and suffering she went through because of it.

Contact cross contamination is really easy to do and can cause a great deal of hurt even when you are careful. Some folks are very sensitive to this plant and its related kin, so even for me, I where a disposable suit and gloves so as not to cause others harm.

Remember, you can gain or lose immunity as you age and/or your physiology changes.

Here is a great link for all to read.

Regards,

j
 
Devin Gray
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Another question regarding the vinegar, soap and salt. Would this have any negative impact on the trees in the area?
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I've had helpers from eastern Europe and Russia who have had no reaction to poison ivy and that were a tremendous help. Unfortunately I learned myself that reactions change over a lifetime. I didn't used to be bothered by it but I've become very allergic.

The best way I've found to get rid of poison ivy (without goats!) is to pull out the whole plant, root and all, in spring when the leaves first start to show. In my experience plants can be much larger and more vigorous than they seem at first glance. One root can travel quite far with no leaves. Getting them early in the season keeps them from leafing out which weakens any bits I miss.
 
Judith Browning
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Devin Gray wrote:Another question regarding the vinegar, soap and salt. Would this have any negative impact on the trees in the area?


I think it would have a negative impact on anything in the area, maybe not trees but likely some of the tree support system in the soil. I've only used a vinegar for poison ivy near the foundation of our house where nothing else was growing anyway. Either I wasn't persistant enough or didn't have the correct mix...anyway it didn't do much but make the poison ivy look a little unhappy. For us pulling it worked the best there and in other places in the yard just mowing will kill it eventually.

A lot of our woods is full of poison ivy. I either avoid it during the worst of the season or just plan to wash immediately after walking through it. I don't seem to get it as easily on my ankles as on my hands. It is really hard to avoid. I know that when we had goats, who ate it, and our whole family drank the fresh, raw milk every day, no one got poison ivy rashes. The worst rash I ever had was after digging to find a marker at the corner of our property with my bare hands in the winter time...and just the roots caused a really painful rash on both hands.
 
Topher Belknap
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Location: Midcoast Maine (zone 5b)
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I spent two days effectively blind, when poison ivy swelled my eyes shut. My sweetie claimed she was never bothered by it, until she went to pull out the stuff that got me.

Now the protocol is zero-tolerance, tyvec suits, gloves, safety glasses, paint masks; rip the stuff out, and immediately stuff into contractor bags, take to the dump, to be incinerated. Take no chances. Take no prisoners.
 
Judith Browning
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Topher Belknap wrote:
I spent two days effectively blind, when poison ivy swelled my eyes shut. My sweetie claimed she was never bothered by it, until she went to pull out the stuff that got me.

Now the protocol is zero-tolerance, tyvec suits, gloves, safety glasses, paint masks; rip the stuff out, and immediately stuff into contractor bags, take to the dump, to be incinerated. Take no chances. Take no prisoners.


Just a thought, in case anyone considers burning it at home....DON'T.....inhaling smoke is dangerous also. We even carefully check our firewood for stray pieces knowing it has climbed many of the trees here.

EDIT...Topher...that sounds horrible to have it in your eyes. My hands were bad enough. One year my husband pulled a lot of it and showered well afterwards but we think the length of time spent in the vines caused a systemic reaction and most of his body was covered in rash.
 
Mariamne Ingalls
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Location: NE Ohio (Zone 6a, on the cusp of 6b) 38.7" annual precip
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:
Remember, you can gain or lose immunity as you age and/or your physiology changes.

Here is a great link for all to read.

Regards,

j


Not to be alarmist, but rather for general awareness, if you haven't run into this situation before:
- In the link that Jay provides above, under Stories, there are a couple where people's breathing was affected.
- So be aware that some people can be very sensitive, and to that extreme, under certain circumstances.

I don't have any tips for our OP for removal, unfortunately. But when I was in the Youth Conservation Corps, we had the same environment: trees, dominated by a full understory of poison ivy about 2.5 feet high. We had to rip some out in order to do maintenance on the trails, and one person, though fully clothed, and with rubber bands around ankles and wrists of gloves, had to go get medical attention for their breathing. Not sure exactly how it happened: it could have been their contact, or just the fact that we were ripping up many large plants at once. Only one person in a crew of 10-12 people was affected. They fully recovered that night and were just reassigned until the job was done. The rest of us washed our clothes thoroughly each night!

Mariamne


 
Devin Gray
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Great info guys, not to mention a few horror stories. yikes! While, again, I dont believe Im TOO susceptible, I think Topher's zero tolerance is the route I will be taking. Time to suit up! Thanks for everything!
 
R Scott
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Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Someone near here DIED from burning it. Secondary drowning from the fluid filling his lungs, horrible. Just "normal" pasture burning around here, got into the smoke, no huge pile of ivy or oak--just normal patches.
 
Karen Walk
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Location: VT, USA Zone 4/5
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I have poison ivy, so I got goats. I still have poison ivy. My goats will eat it if there is nothing else left, and you force them to stay there. They will browse it by choice along a tree edge, but not enough to kill it. If you get goats, make sure you get ones that love poison ivy. Mine treat it like some 2-year-olds treat broccoli - if it's cooked right, and they're in the mood, they'll nibble, but they won't clean the plate.
 
Paul Ewing
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That is interesting to hear. All the goats I have been around love it which is the only reason I still have some and put up with a few trees getting eaten.

I am not very allergic to poison ivy, but my mother and brother are extremely allergic to it so I try to keep it down around all our properties.
 
wayne stephen
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Poison Ivy is a great carbon sink . The itch producing compound urishol is well documented to increase greatly in strength during rises in atmospheric CO2 . It's natures way of sequestering carbon and vexing those critters pumping it into the atmosphere . All the more reason to plant trees . Poison Ivy is Mother Natures way of playing Good Cop / Bad Cop .
 
Jim Fisk
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FWIW we have Nubian goats and they simply love poison ivy above all else. Typically they aren't interested in being hand fed their veggies as they would rather harvest their own thank you BUT ivy is considered such a treat that I can rip a big vine off a tree and they will run to consume it.
Yup, I have always been able to handle it and only get a few itches and I have no native American in me. Brit, Scotch, German, etc.. I am 67 and if anything it effects me even less now and I handle it without gloves all the time.
NOTE: I found when I was about 20 after a roll with the GF in ivy and getting some on my fore arm a very simple way to defeat it that my family has used to this day. I was running a body shop for a car dealer and I had a thought: it always seemed to spread over the skin surface so paint gun in hand I sprayed primer on the area. (lacquer primer dries almost instantly and therefore does not penetrate) Gone in a day. So having that success I now advocate some form of preferably clear spray. The grey primer was not very flattering. Even a clear hair spray coating the entire area has worked like a dream for our son and daughter for many years now. NOT medically approved but that never stopped me before. I rely on common sense and it works for us. Paints are far less toxic now than they were then so that is a plus. Meds for the purpose always seemed to spread it out worse in my experience and I have never used them since that day over 45 yrs ago.
 
Karen Walk
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In the woods, poison ivy roots are mostly just below the surface and are pretty easy to pull out - especially after a good rain.
 
Steve Hoskins
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Location: NW lower Michigan
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Pigs will do it, but you will have to pulse it several times. Make them hit it hard each time, and plant something to replace it. Sounds crazy, but we are having good luck with it.

I can't stress the planting enough though, you must fill the void! If you run pigs in it once, and plant pasture behind them, let it grow, and run the pigs in there again, you will see a huge improvement.

Also....Don't let it seed ever again.

Good luck, I am allergic and empathetic.
 
Devin Gray
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ok guys, its been a few weeks, Ive done a little bit of work out there in the woods, gotten some of it pulled. Time will tell if it did any good or not. Im wondering now, in an effort to impede its regrowth, if there are any other spreading plants (i.e. mint) that are vigorous enough to choke out the poison ivy.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Wow, I salute you, Devin! It's a brave job you're doing.

I just want to remind you - though you probably already know, but there are so many harmful and wrong old wives tales around about how to avoid or cure the rash.

People who do react to poison ivy are reacting to the oil on the surface and inside of every part of the plant, leaf, stem, root, etc. It takes several hours for that oil to penetrate the skin, so after suspected exposure, to protect yourself and others in your house, simply make sure to wash all your skin and clothing with any kind of soap or detergent that will cut oil and wash it off. Do not neglect things like your shoes, if you have been out in the patch pulling on it, because you, your housemates or your pets could still spread the oil off your shoes tomorrow and onto someone who is susceptible.

Do not rely on following up exposure with some other application of some plant or cream. You have to wash the urushiol oil off with soap. That's it.

I'm super susceptible but have avoided the rash many times with this knowledge. When I was a kid I got it badly many times from running around in the woods playing with stuff in all seasons even when there were no leaves. As an adult I've only had it a couple of times because I know to wash with soap after any exposure in the woods in the NorthEast to anything suspicious, or in winter, leafless and unknown.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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I've been pushing poison ivy back every year in my orchard and last year I thought I had almost eliminated it. Not so! There's quite a bit out there. The roots do go pretty close to the surface, so after this big rain we're having now I'm going out there in combat gear.

I have some spots on me right now from pulling it last week. A hydrocortisone roll on helps a lot. Meditation and mindfulness help too! This is an area where a hint of purple permaculture is practical.
 
Matu Collins
Posts: 1969
Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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As far as what to replace the vine with- wild strawberry on the ground and wild concord grape for climbing.
 
Rebecca Norman
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Yep, once you've got the rash, hydrocortisone is really the only thing that makes any serious difference. Sure, I'd like to avoid high tech medicine as much as anyone, but in the case of poison ivy, yep.
 
Karen Walk
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A low tech method is to drink grapefruit juice. I've found that lost of vitamin C helps to reduce itching. I've had poison ivy very badly in the past. The combination of washing with good soap and managing any outbreaks with Vitamin C has made PI much more bearable (except when I get it on my fingers - that always sucks!)
 
Rebecca Norman
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Karen Walk wrote:... (except when I get it on my fingers - that always sucks!)


Oh man, even just READING that, 10,000 miles away from any poison ivy, made me squirm and itch!
 
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