Get ahead of poison ivy and oak in the spring

By Lisa  |  Tuesday, March 1, 2011  |  , , ,  |  2 comments

Poison Ivy and Oak in the SpringDo you deal with poison ivy and oak on a regular basis? Are you tired of having a run in with it every year?  It can be difficult to leave the "leaflets of three" alone when it has already invaded your yard.

Spring is here and things are beginning to grow. If you know where the poison ivy and oak plants grow, this is a good time to try to remove it before it gets too large to handle.

Begin by knowing what the plant looks like. In the spring, poison oak is a glossy green with white-green flowers at the point where the leaves attach to the stem. (These flowers later turn into whitish-green round fruit in the summer.) Poison ivy leaves are red in the spring with small greenish flowers attached to the main stem close to where each leaf joins it. These flowers also turn into whitish berries.

Wear proper gear before touching poison ivy or oak plants. You will want to use rubber gloves and wear a long sleeved shirt, long pants tucked into socks and rubber boots or shoes that can be hosed off later. All of these items can be treated with Tecnu Original Outdoor Skin Cleanser in order to remove the plant's urushiol oil from them after you are finished in the garden.. You may also want to consider wearing goggles and a breathing mask. It is best to work on removing the plants on a dry day with no wind.

Urushiol is a toxic, resinous type substance that is found in all parts of the poison ivy, oak and sumac plants. When urushiol gets on the skin it binds to the skin within 10-20 minutes. At that point the urushiol becomes extremely difficult, if not impossible, to get off the skin with soap and water. The rash from poison ivy, oak and sumac is the body's natural reaction to the toxin.

To remove the poison ivy and oak plants from your yard:

  • Using shears or pruners, cut the plants down to ground level. You will want to dispose of the plants in plastic garbage bags and avoid tearing or ripping the vines as this could disperse urushiol into the air.
  • If the plants are small enough and you can get underneath them, use a shovel to dig them up. You will also want to dispose of them in a plastic bag.
  • Spray remaining roots, stems and stubs with a chemical weed killer containing glyphosate or triclopyr. Examples include Roundup or Ortho's Brush-B-Gon. You will want to be careful not to kill the plants you want to keep with these chemicals.
  • Be sure to dispose of poison ivy and oak properly - in heavy, plastic bags in your trash can. Do not put poison plants in your compost and never burn poison ivy or oak. Burning the plants can cause you to inhale the urushiol and have a serious systemic reaction.
  • When finished removing poison ivy and oak from your yard, be sure to disinfect your clothing, tools, shoes and skin to remove any urushiol. We recommend Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub or Tecnu Outdoor Skin Cleanser.

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2 comments for “Get ahead of poison ivy and oak in the spring”

  1. Posted 5/4/2011 at 9:57:29 AM
    Gravatar of kim

    Thanks for this information.

  2. Posted 7/14/2011 at 6:55:41 PM
    Gravatar of Don Teets

    Thanks for all the great info.
    I'm off to where ever this stuff is sold and I think I will buy them out.
    I have about 20 acres of this miserable vegetation,so I have a big job on my hands. I really needed this advice, thanks again.

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