Over 70% of us are allergic to poison ivy.
In fact, so many of us have experienced the burning, itchy blisters that rise up on our skin after touching this sneaky plant, you may have heard at least a couple of the following growing up:
“Leaves of three, let it be.”
“Hairy vine, no friend of mine.”
“If butterflies land there, don’t put your hand there.”
“Side leaflets like mittens will itch like the dickens.”
“Berries white, run in fright.”
Rather than running from from poison ivy, get it out of your yard — and keep it out.
Why is poison ivy…well, poisonous?
Because it’s covered in urushiol. Urushiol is an oily substance that coats the ivy’s leaves and stems and causes inflammation, irritation, and pain when it comes into contact with your skin.
How can I recognize poison ivy?
Harmless plants like raspberry leaves and English ivy are frequently misidentified as poison ivy; on the other hand, poison ivy is also often mistaken for friendlier varieties of plant life.
Look for the following characteristics to spot poison ivy in your yard:
Three leaves with the middle stem being longer than the sides
Color by season:
Summer: Reddish brown
Spring: Green leaves
Autumn: Yellow or orange
Pointed tips on the leaves
Note: In the spring and summer, poison ivy might grow white or light green berries and/or green or yellow flowers.
How can I get rid of poison ivy in my yard?
- Cover every inch of your body. Use:
- Tall boots
- Long pants
- Long sleeves
- Thick gloves
- Pull it by digging it up by the roots.
- Place it in a heavy duty trash bag. Be sure it doesn’t puncture the bag.
- Cover the area with metal sheets, cardboard, or mulch. Covering the area smothers any remaining patches of ivy and prevents regrowth.
- Trash the bag of ivy.
- Wash all of your tools and clothing immediately. The urushiol can linger on your clothing, tools, and skin and cause reactions for up to two months, even if it’s not on the plant.
Note: Do not burn or compost poison ivy. Urushiol can be spread through smoke and trigger airborne allergies. Composting poison ivy could cause regrowth and lead to more allergic reactions.
Pulling poison ivy is direct, effective, and immediate, but if you’re hesitant to dive right into a patch of poison ivy and banish it with your bare (we mean: carefully covered) hands, chemical treatments can be an effective alternative.
Note: Chemical treatments work by killing plant life upon contact, meaning if poison ivy has infiltrated your garden and other plant life, chemical applications might not be your best solution. If you don’t mind killing the surrounding plant life, carry on, otherwise, you may want to consider manual removal.
Prevention > Treatment
One of the best ways to avoid poison ivy is to prevent it from popping up in your yard to begin with. From mowing and weeding to landscaping, routine lawn care and weed removal keeps your yard beautiful, healthy, and safe.