Question: How can I kill poison ivy?

Answer: If it’s out in the open, where you can easily spray it, use a broadleafed weedkiller applied while it’s really actively growing in late spring. Keep that type of weedkiller off any trees or shrubs that might be damaged. If it’s growing against tree trunks, and if it has made very large trunks of its own as it ascended the trees, carefully cut those poison ivy stems near the ground. Leave the tops of the vines to die in the trees, then spray the regrowth that comes up from the base of the old poison ivy stumps. You could even pour the broadleafed weedkiller at full strength directly onto the freshly cut stump, but don’t let it run off and into the soil. In a year or two those stems you have left hanging in the tree will relax their hold and fall to the ground, at which time you can gather and discard them. Remember that all parts of poison ivy can cause the allergic reaction, including leaves, stems and even roots. It’s the oil that is in the wood that causes us to break out, and that oil can splatter as you’re cutting the stems, even in mid-winter. Remember, too, that every human being is, at some point or another, very susceptible to poison ivy. Don’t assume ever that you’re a super-human, because that’s when you’ll have your outbreak. Wear protective clothing and washable gloves. Take a hot soapy bath immediately after you work around it, and wash your clothes in hot water. If you are one of the unlucky folks who is always being bothered by poison ivy, perhaps you’d better find some other person to do any and all work around it. Finally, should poison ivy come up in a groundcover or shrub bed, use a foam rubber paintbrush to apply the broadleafed weedkiller directly to the poison ivy foliage. You could also use a disposable glove on one hand and plunge a dandelion digger into the ground with the other, to remove young poison ivy seedlings as they start to grow.

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