Poison Ivy and Poisonous Vines – Natural Preventative Measures

We have a patch of poison ivy that seems to keep re-appearing in one of my garden beds every so often. Since I don’t like to use chemicals in the garden, I have been trying to find natural treatments for poison Ivy prevention so that I don’t have to use poisons  Natural tips for poison ivy prevention without resorting to harsh chemicals

Poison Oak and Poison Sumac Poison Ivy Prevention Tips

You have all heard the saying “leaves of three”, let them be, I’m sure. The distinctive pattern of poison ivy is one that you should be able to recognize. My husband is not one for pulling weeds, but he never lets this one stay in the yard for long! He is also not as much of an organic gardener as I am, so In the past, he normally just treated it with Roundup, but I decided to try and figure out some more natural ways to treat this problem in our yard.Poison ivy vine

It turns out there are many options other than chemicals for poison ivy prevention.   Unfortunately, most of the remedies will also kill any neighboring plants, so care must be taken with them.  Here are a few natural ways to kill Poison Ivy and other poisonous vines:Poison Ivy prevention does not mean that you have to resort to round up. There are lots of natural ways to deal with this invasive weed.

  • Dress for the job! Before you try to deal with poison ivy, be sure that you are dressed correctly.Wear disposable gloves and make sure that your skin is well covered before you begin the job.
  • Choose the right day. Be sure there is no wind and the day is dry, especially if you are going to be using any type of spray to treat poisonous vines. You don’t want wind to put the preventative back on you or on neighboring plants.
  • Digging and rooting it out.  This is by far the most effective and safe method.   Larger vines will have to be dug out by the roots with a shovel.  Repeated digging and pulling may be needed as some roots will remain.digging poison ivy is the best way to get rid of it.
  • Cut the plants first. If you decide that digging is your best choice, cut the plants to ground level first. Use pruners or shears and remove all the stems you can see and dispose of them in garbage bags. Doing this will make the job of digging much easier.
  • Boiling Water – Don’t want to dig?  Apply boiling water to the plants’ roots every day until the plants die off.   If you decide to do it this way, remember that the dead plants still have itch-inducing oils on them, so they should be removed with tongs.  (boiling water will also kill nearby plants)
  • Smother the area where the poison ivy is growing.  A Longer term solution is similar to lasagna gardening. Just use cardboard, black plastic, newspaper, or mulch to cover up the area where the poison ivy grows.  In time, the lack of light to the plant will kill it and the roots.

Sprays for poison ivy prevention

Here are a few natural sprays to treat poison ivy in the garden. Use them on dry days when no rain is expected for several days.There are several sprays that ill kill poison ivy.

  • Soap Spray –  make a mixture of 4 tbsp of liquid dish washing soap and 1 quart of water.  Combine well and put in a spray bottle.  Please note that this method will also kill nearby plants so be careful where you spray it.
  • Vinegar, detergent and salt spray – Vinegar has long been used as a weed killer because it is so acidic.  Combine a cup of salt, a tsp of dish washing liquid and a gallon of vinegar.  Heat the salt and vinegar to dissolve the salt.  Cool, and then add the detergent.  Pour into a spray bottle.  Spray on the poison ivy.   (note…also kills near by plants so be careful.)
  • Horticultural vinegar spray. This natural weed killer uses no salt, which can be damaging to the soil. But for it to work, the vinegar must be at least a 20% strength. For poison ivy, stronger is even better. See how to make this vinegar weed killer here.

After Treating Poison IvyClean clothing, gloves and tools after treating poison ivy

  • Dispose of poisonous vines properly.  Don’t add the vines to your compost pile or burn it.  Inhaling the smoke from the plants can hurt your lungs. Place the plants in heavy plastic bags and dispose of rubber gloves, as well.
  • Disinfect tools.  Don’t allow the poison ivy to infect other plants in your yard.  Rinse your shovels, pruners and other tools with rubbing alcohol. Let them dry and then add oil to prevent rust. See my general tips for treating garden tools.
  • Clean the clothing.  The clothes that you used to deal with poisonous vines will need to be washed separately.  Also be sure to clean your boots or shoes with soapy water.  If you used rubber gloves, dispose of them.

If you feel you must resort to a spray to tackle the problem, a natural herbicide that works is St Gabriel Labs’ Poison Ivy Defoliant, which is made from plant oils. (affiliate link.)  Another more natural killer is called Bite Blocker Weed Killer. (affiliate link.)

Types of poisonous vines.

There are other poisonous vines too. They react similarly on the skin but have different leaf formation.  This graphic shows the differences.These are the three poisonous vines common to homes in our area - poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac. There are lots of natural ways to get rid of it in your yard without using poisonous chemicals. thegardeningcook.com

What have you successfully used for poison ivy prevention in your yard other than chemicals?  Please leave your comments below.

Treating Poison Ivy Rash

Normally people can develop a sensitivity poison ivy, oak or sumac only after they have encountered it several times. Sometimes this takes years, But sensitivity can occur with some people after only one encounter with the plant. If, in spite of your best efforts, you have come in contact with the plant and have developed a rash, please try these home remedies to treat it. 

Leaves of three...leave them be. But what do you do if you get a case of poison ivy? See my natural remedies.

For more gardening tips, please visit The Gardening Cook on Facebook.


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  11 comments for “Poison Ivy and Poisonous Vines – Natural Preventative Measures

  1. Janet Pauly
    06/30/2013 at 6:36 am

    I’m guessing these methods will also kill itch weed as well! I’ve just been donning rubber gloves and long sleeves to pull out the itch weed around our house, but because I sometimes aren’t able to get all the roots every time, they come back! 🙁 Thanks for posting this!

    • admin
      06/30/2013 at 8:12 am

      My pleasure Janet. Digging them up and getting the roots is the best method but it is sometimes easier said than done!

      Carol

  2. 07/05/2013 at 7:15 am

    love all the tips, reciepes and flowers. now got a question. I am sick, the person that trims my shrubs trimmed my nandinas as well especially i call the stalky ones. they look like heck could have screamed. what shall I do. please all the advise is appreciated, Lena

    • admin
      07/05/2013 at 9:12 am

      Nadinia is pruned this way:

      I recommend cutting about a quarter of the stems down to the ground. Then cut a third of the total stem height off one out of every four remaining stems. Next, prune about one quarter of the stems two-third of the height of the plant. Leave the final quarter of the stems uncut.

      If the person trimmed them all down, I’m not sure what will happen when they regrow.

      CArol

  3. 07/05/2013 at 7:17 am

    loved everything i saw, a most informative site, . please help me on the above commet. Lena

  4. Patch
    06/20/2016 at 1:45 pm

    Wow … “. . . He normally just treats it with Roundup, but I have been wondering what natural treatments are available for poison Ivy…” I know this product is used but it’s a shock to see that someone would just normally used Roundup, especially in a garden! I have to say that I think the danger is greater from Roundup than poison ivy!

    • Carol
      06/20/2016 at 2:05 pm

      The whole purpose of my post was to find an alternative to Round up so that I don’t have to use it in my garden! Carol

  5. Jd
    06/28/2016 at 5:09 pm

    What to do if tree is surrounded by poison ivy?
    Thanks

    • Carol
      06/28/2016 at 5:41 pm

      Hi JD. That is harder to get rid of for sure. Make sure you are well covered and then cut through the vines about a foot above the soil. You will need to completely cut the vines but need to be careful of hurting the tree. After doing this, clean the saw blade with water and white vinegar. In about a week, the upper leaves should start to die off. Once it is dead, slowly pull the vines off and place them into plastic bags and dispose of them.

      Be sure you are well suited to do this. The vines can move around and make contact, so wear good protective clothing.
      Carol

  6. Sue
    10/18/2016 at 3:33 pm

    Are there any plants that will “drown out” poison ivy? Or block it from spreading further?

    Thanks!

    • Carol
      10/18/2016 at 10:17 pm

      Hi Sue. I have not heard of any plants that will do this. Even if they kept it from spreading it would always be there, ready to be a problem. Poison ivy is tenacious. Carol

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