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How To Control Poison Ivypoison ivy

Perhaps regarded as one of the most hated plants in existence and a nightmare for gardeners and landscapers to deal with, poison ivy on a lawn can be both an irritating invade and a health hazard. This highly allergic plant is notorious for its reputation to cause skin irritation, blistering and burning sensations on any part of the body which comes in contact with it. Depending on just how sensitive your skin is and how it reacts to poison ivy, an encounter with this plant may result in a trip to the doctors office to treat your rashes.

You’re probably well aware of the phrase “leaves of three, leave them be”. This is referring to poison ivy which has stems which contain three leaflets. This perennial vine or shrub is often found in fields, pastures, woodlands, farms and home landscapes. The edges of the leaflets can be smooth, wavy, lobed or toothed. There are also many other harmless leaves that look similar to poison ivy by being trifoliate so it may be difficult to differentiate between a safe plant and poison ivy.

You may be wondering, “Why does poison ivy irritate the skin so much?” That’s because poison ivy (along with similar shrubs like poison oak and poison sumac) produce an oil called urushiol, which is a strong allergen. Around 60-90% of people have an allergic reaction to the colorless or slightly yellow oil found in the leaves, stems and roots. The typical symptoms of coming in contact with this oil consists of development of a rash with oozing blisters.

If there’s poison ivy around on your property or garden, we at Solutions Pest & Lawn have a way for you to get rid of it and keep them gone through our wide selection of professional-grade herbicides.

Browse our poison ivy products below. We are available via live chat, email or phone if you ever have any questions or concerns or would like more detailed advice on how to conduct control

How To Get Rid of Poison Ivy: 4 Step Solution

Removing an invasion of poison ivy in your garden or on your lawn doesn’t have to be difficult. By having the correct approach and possessing the right products, you can wipe out poison ivy from your yard quickly and conveniently. However, it should be noted that it’s not always the product that brings you the most success, but the proper usage of the product. That is why we have laid out four simple steps to follow when tackling a poison ivy problem.

Step 1: Identification - First things first, be sure that the plant that you are dealing with on your lawn is in fact, poison ivy. There may be no need to get rid of a plant which looks similar to poison ivy but isn’t.


Identifying poison ivy can be tricky though because it has a resemblance to common backyard plants including Virginia creeper and the leaves of the boxelder tree. The appearance of poison ivy can vary with the leaves either looking shiny or dull and the leaf margins can be toothed or wavy, or have no teeth at all. Some poison ivy leaves are hairy while other types are totally hairless.

However, the most common trait of all poison ivy types is compound leaves that consist of three leaflets. The leaflets range from 2-5 inches long and are green during the growing season while in the fall they turn a bright red. The leaves are arranged in an alternate pattern on the stem. 

If you can't identify the plant via appearance, the unpleasant way to identify is touching it and seeing if you get an allergic reaction from the oil resin which covers the plant called urushiol. We don't recommend touching it, but if you want a clear answer that you're dealing with poison ivy and not some other plant, that'll do it.


If you are not totally sure, you can always shoot us an email at identification@solutionsstores.com containing a photo of the plant in question and we will ID it properly for you as well as provide control recommendations.

Step 2: Inspection - After you have identified and have confirmation that you are dealing with poison ivy, you will need to inspect the area to see just how big of a poison ivy outbreak you have.  Be sure that you are first properly geared up for the occasion. Be sure to wear long pants, long sleeves, gloves, and boots, covering as much skin as possible because you not only do not want poison ivy on your skin, you don’t want to accidentally get chemicals on you either.

Poison ivy can grow just about anywhere - on trees, on the ground, and on buildings. Often when people buy a new home, they will have no idea that poison ivy is growing on the siding and in the yard. This phase of the control program will help you to determine how much product you will need to conduct a successful treatment of the itch-inducing weed.

Step 3: Control - Unless you want to get rashes by trying to manually yank out poison ivy or cut them down, the best method of eliminating poison ivy is through the use of chemical herbicides. Use a non-selective herbicide like Glyphosate 4 Plus Weed Killer Concentrate or one of our other suggested options which will easily kill off this plant. You can cut the plant back to a foot or so above ground level and apply glyphosate immediately. Poison ivy, like the other plants in this family, is persistent, so repeated applications may be necessary to completely kill the plant. Afterward wash all your clothing and equipment thoroughly to remove traces of the oil.


Step 4: Prevention - If you are able to successfully kill off the poison ivy, you don't want it to make a return. Closely monitor your yard to check if poison ivy returns. This should especially be done in the spring and summer since that is when poison ivy is actively growing. If patches begin to pop up, spray them with herbicides or yank them out. Again be careful and use gloves and wash the gloves afterward.

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Learn More About Poison Ivypoison ivy caution sign

Poison ivy is a rather popularly known plant, but mostly for negative reasons. Known scientifically as Toxicodendron radicans, poison ivy is a vine or shrub plant which likes to grow low to the ground or can spread up on trees and take over a landscape. 


This troublesome plant can grow just about everywhere. Usually, it is seen along fencerows, roadside areas and in woody landscapes. Poison ivy is also found around residential areas in shrubbery, flower beds and along the perimeter of lots. Poison ivy can tend to sneak up on people because when it is in early growth, it may fly under the radar. But then once it has fully grown, it can come to a surprise for people that poison ivy is growing on the property and they would have to warn their children not to play outside near it.


Poison ivy is fairly easy to identify via its leaves which are compound and composed of three leaflets which can be either smooth, scalloped or irregularly toothed when it comes to its margins. The two lower leaflets which are opposite each other grow on a short or absent stalk while the top leaflet stand out on a longer stalk. The leaf surface may or may not appear oily, waxy or warty.


Poison ivy produces white, smooth berries which grow in clusters which birds enjoy eating without feeling any effects of its poison. The entire plant is poisonous due to the oil resin it emits called urushiol. This oil can be easily picked up on tools, clothes and pet fur.


Have A Lawn Issue That Isn’t Poison Ivy? Check out Our Lawn Care Main Category!


urushiol is the substance emitted from poison ivy which causes allergic reactionsThe Unpleasant Effects of Poison Ivy

The culprit in poison ivy is a compound called urushiol. This funny sounding compound is a family of chemical compounds that soak through the skin and cause an allergic reaction in your dermis which is the layer under the top layer of skin. It can be absorbed in as little as ten minutes so if you don't have soap and water handy, you're going to be in for an itchy uncomfortable time.


People are surprised to know that it is not just touching that can put poison ivy in your system. You can actually breathe poison ivy. If it's being burned, the smoke can carry the compound and if it goes into your lungs it can cause a very severe allergic reaction. Urushiol has a lot of staying power as well. If you're exposed to it, you really need to wash everything thoroughly.


Urushiol can actually live on the surface for up to five years so if you're exposed to poison ivy it's crucial that everything that comes into contact with poison ivy be washed thoroughly, including boots and equipment.

It can even take some time for your body to react to poison ivy so just because you've showered doesn't mean its completely gone. Someone exposed to poison ivy can sometimes take up to a week to show symptoms by usually a rash will develop within 24 hours of exposure to urushiol. Urushiol leaves your skin rashy and sometimes even produces blisters.

To get relief there are some home remedies you can try such as oatmeal baths. Scientists have found that a compound in oatmeal called avenanthramides seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect on cells. So bathing in oatmeal can actually soothe your itch. Aside from this, using anti-itch creams can also give you some relief.

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Control Options for Poison Ivypoison ivy grows on a tree

Once poison ivy has been established on your property, it can be a headache to control due to its woodiness. If you wanted to use a non-chemical option, you could use a machete and or hedge trimmer and cut the plant back to the ground in order to starve the plant, increases its chances of dying. The con with this option is that you will risk being exposed to the oil and will have to do a thorough washing of yourself, clothing and equipment afterward. Digging up poison ivy is another option but we wouldn't recommend it because if you leave even a tiny portion of the root system, the plant will likely rise up again.

Herbicide treatment remains the best option for poison ivy control. However, it's important to be careful in applying the herbicides so it doesn't get on your desired plants because it can potentially kill them as well. For instance, if the poison ivy is growing among shrubs and trees, you must apply chemical controls directly to the poison ivy plant and not to any of the other plants. One thing you can do if the poison ivy is in close proximity to desired plants is to paint the poison ivy rather than spray. If the poison ivy outbreak is bad enough, it may be worth sacrificing some desirable plants to eliminate the poison ivy.

Herbicide products that contain the active ingredient triclopyr are the most effective at controlling poison ivy. The products are often touted as poison ivy or brush control and are most often mixed with glyphosate. When using these products, it is essential to thoroughly cover the vegetative parts of the plant. Be prepared to make repeated applications for complete control. Roundup has also demonstrated effectiveness in killing poison ivy, but again, will require multiple applications. You may also use a combination of triclopyr and 2,4-D where herbicide drift is not a factor. However, you should never apply 2,4-D in locations where other sensitive species grow in close proximity to poison ivy.


Better Safe Than Sorry: Equip Yourself With Protective Safety Equipment Before Spraying


Additional Resources on Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy Control Methods - The Homeowners Column - University of Illinois Extension

Weed Control: Poison Ivy - ISU Extension Store - Iowa State University



Getting Rid of Poison Ivy - Farmers' Almanac


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