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
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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
Many products can be made at home with natural ingredients for a fraction of the cost and poison ivy sprays are no exception. (see my tutorial for DIY disinfectant wipes, too. You can use them to wipe down garden tools that might be infected.)
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.
- 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 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.
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.
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