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Answers to your questions about gardening, energy, homesteading and other sustainable living topics.


Ditch the Itch: Get Rid of Poison Ivy Plants

I found out the hard way that my garden is infested with poison ivy. What should I do to evict this rash-causing weed?poison ivy

Getting rid of poison ivy in your yard is tough — there’s just no easy way to do it. One of the most effective techniques to banish it is to pull it and pull it and pull it. Wear special gloves that you never use for anything else and use a pair of long-handled pliers. The ivy’s stems run mainly near the surface of the soil and up onto nearby trees. Large lengths will come up when you pull. If the stems are thick and won’t budge, then you’ll have to cut them and paint the remaining portion with an herbicide. Repeat this pulling process as needed each year.

Before you begin pulling poison ivy, apply the FDA-approved product called Ivy Block to your hands and arms to protect your skin. After you’re finished, carefully remove your gloves, wash your clothes, and wash your hands with Tecnu Extreme Medicated Poison Ivy Scrub. You can find these products online or at a drugstore.

Photo by Dreamstime/Stevebrigman: Pesky poison ivy often likes to climb up trees.


Cheryl Long is the editor in chief of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, and a leading advocate for more sustainable lifestyles. She leads a team of editors which produces high quality content that has resulted in MOTHER EARTH NEWS being rated as one North America’s favorite magazines. Long lives on an 8-acre homestead near Topeka, Kan., powered in part by solar panels, where she manages a large organic garden and a small flock of heritage chickens. Prior to taking the helm at MOTHER EARTH NEWS, she was an editor at Organic Gardening magazine for 10 years. Connect with her on .

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weekendweeder
8/5/2016 9:31:48 PM

I had heard, a while ago, that poison ivy oil is a strong base (alkali). Recently, in reading more about poison ivy (primarily on technical web sites published by universities) I read the pH of poison ivy is 3.5, a strong acid. Could you help solve the discrepancy, and point to a web site / person that could help answer more questions? Thank you.


cobblestones
8/5/2016 4:24:41 PM

I know the article is about getting rid of Poison Ivy in your garden. Like a lot of people I am allergic to it too. The best thing to have handy is a bottle of rubbing alcohol. I like 90%, but your call. Wipe the exposed area with a liberal amount of alcohol and use a new area of the cloth. The alcohol works on the oil and denatures it, and gets it off of you. The other thing to remember is your clothes. The oil can stay "potent" for 20 years (what I have been told). I have cut my exposures down to 3-4 a year now. Now if I can only figure out how to keep the dogs out of it, they vector it occasionally to me by their fur.


starfishin
8/13/2015 11:36:01 PM

IvyX precontact spray and solution can be purchased in a number of places, including Amazon.There are also IvyX post-contact wipes. Amazon also sells Zanfel Poison Ivy Wash, which works both pre- and post-exposure (reduces/eliminates itching,etc.). In most cases Amazon can ship overnight for an extra charge.


faerywings7
7/20/2014 7:14:38 AM

The link to Ivy Block takes you to a single page ad that says it's no longer being produced and I can't find anywhere on-line that sells it. Desperately need it!


rottieman
5/26/2014 9:53:36 AM

Naptha soap works extremely well for washing before and after dealing with poison ivy / oak. also works well to aid in getting rid of it if you you do get it.