The Q&A Archives: poison ivy

Question: HELP...we bought property that is COVERED in poison ivy...even in the gardens. How do I EVER get rid of it?

Answer: Poison ivy can be difficult to eradicate. You may have to try a variety of methods. One is to spot treat it with herbicide containing glyphosate applied to cut ends of the vines or to the foliage. Be sure to read and carefully follow all of the label directions.

It often takes more than one treatment. Late summer is a good time to apply it because that is when the plants are actively translocating reserves to the roots in preparation for winter.

Repeatedly cutting it back can also help weaken the plant. Depending on what kind of property you have, the old time solution is to allow goats to graze on it.

Another approach can be to cut it back and then smother it under a layer of damp cardboard topped with a thick layer of organic mulch.

I should mention that it should not be burned, and do not burn firewood with vine clinging to it. Also, be sure it is really poison ivy and not just the native Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus virginiana.) Good luck with your project!

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