Help! Poison ivy growing into my garden
May 9, 2015 10:33 AM   Subscribe

There is poison ivy growing into my vegetable garden. The area it originates from is not accessible, and the roots are right next to the garden. How can I get rid of it?

My vegetable garden is enclosed by a small wooden lattice/wire fence. On the other side of the fence is a line of arborvitaes and random weeds that is barely a foot wide and not accessible. Today I went outside and saw this horrible sight. The vines are growing up between the lattice and the wire, inches away from the garden.

What can I do to get rid of it, being that it is so close to the garden and in an area I can only access from above? Can I put some kind of weed killer so close to the garden? I was planning on putting weed control fabric down in the garden, so I was thinking I could staple some to the top of the wood on the top of the fence (seen in picture 1) and then anchor it down on the ground inside the garden, and maybe shoving cardboard in between the lattice and wire.

I don't think I'm allergic to poison ivy, but my parents are both extremely allergic to it. Any advice is appreciated!
posted by foid to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My whole family is pretty allergic.

It takes the oil an hour to absorb into the skin, so if you shower with a strong soap like fels naptha within the hour you should be OK.

We were paranoid enough to wear long sleeves, pants, and gloves. We would throw them straight into the laundry on the way to the shower.

Luckily it isn't a very persistent plant, and ripping it out roots and all seems to get rid of it pretty well.
posted by poe at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2015

Best answer: If you can cut it and expose the stems, then a very small amount of a woody plant herbidide painted ontothe cut surfaces would take it out. Something like
Garlon 3A but I would check with your nursery to choose the product. You will need very little of it.
posted by Danf at 10:51 AM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: I would paint the leaves with a herbicide like Roundup that is devastating but short lived. That will pull it into the vascular system of the nasty little bugger and leave no trace in the soil afterward due to it's short half life.
posted by nickggully at 11:06 AM on May 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Yep, literally get some big dishwashing gloves and a $1 paintbrush and a plastic cup. Put some Round-Up in the cup. Paint whatever leaves you can reach, and over a couple of days it'll draw the herbicide down into the roots.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:39 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Side note on killing a plant. Like kids, they go through growth spurts. Wait til it shoots up and then cut it back to the root / yank it out whatever. The growth spurt will make the plant have less energy to survive the invasive damage you intend to do to it. That doesn't mean wait a ton, but if it is growing slowly and steady, it will have a better chance of coming back.
posted by Nanukthedog at 2:18 PM on May 9, 2015

"Put some Round-Up in the cup" says Lyn Never
Please note the concentration.
For poison ivy, 1% or 2% seems to be plenty.
(I am be wrong here--I've always just sprayed--please respond)
posted by hexatron at 2:26 PM on May 9, 2015

Best answer: Can I put some kind of weed killer so close to the garden?

We garden a LOT and you can spray one plant with roundup and the plant literally right next to it will be fine if you're careful (we don't do this often but when we do it's really effective--we get this one weed that sends out long roots and will get out of hand quickly if you don't get every last one). Don't sweat it!

Don't forget that you can still get a reaction from dead poison ivy if you try to clean up its dead corpse in a few weeks.

I'dthen salt the earth between those two fences if it were me. :)
posted by resurrexit at 2:27 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Please note the concentration.

Buy the smallest ready-to-use spray bottle of Round-Up you can find, as you're likely not going to need it again for years. Open the bottle, carefully, and splash some of it in the cup, enough to get the paint brush bristles wet.

That will be the same concentration as pulling the trigger on the bottle. It will suffice.

And yes, you can be that selective with Round-Up as long as you apply with laser focus and don't drip or spill. My mother has flower beds with tall wavy flowers and she has this ritual that involves wearing a white cotton glove over a rubber glove, dabbing Round-Up on the fingers of the cotton glove, and stroking any weeds that have come up between the flower stalks. It's absurd, but it works.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:41 PM on May 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

Keep in mind that Round-Up is a very slow acting herbicide. The way it works it that it interferes with the synthesis of certain amino acids and essentially the plant starves to death over a period of a couple of weeks. Because people are impatient to see results, the Round-Up product often has an added "burn down agent" for appearances sake that causes the leaves to turn brown in a day or so. This burn down agent (typically a weak organic acid) isn't what eventually kills the plant but makes people feel like the product is "working" while the real ingredients (glyphosate) work their way into the roots and do their job over a couple of weeks.
posted by JackFlash at 3:04 PM on May 9, 2015 [5 favorites]

The Clemson Cooperative Extension Service outlines various ways to control poison ivy. Depending on the herbicide, they outline when and how to use it.

You may want to contact your local Extension Service or Master Gardener program, since they can give you specific information for your region about available herbicides and recommend ones to use near vegetable gardens.

Hope this helps! Good luck!
posted by bCat at 3:19 PM on May 9, 2015

half bleach, half water - in a spray bottle.
spray on the plant.

it will kill the plant.
posted by entropone at 3:58 PM on May 9, 2015

Definitely break out the Roundup. I don't mess with poison ivy. I see it, I spray it.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:32 PM on May 9, 2015

Thanks for that information Jack Flash. It explains what happened when I sprayed Poison Ivy Roundup on some greenbriar. The leaves all fell off the greenbriar, but the stems were unbowed, and soon grew new leaves.

Roundup will kill greenbriar, but only at much greater concentrations. I am dealing with it by digging only in the area I am clearing (I am leaving most of it as deer food). It looks clear now but the season has barely started.
posted by hexatron at 5:36 PM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use WeedBeGone because I have it for other reasons. If you spray carefully you can avoid damage to your garde.
posted by SemiSalt at 5:50 PM on May 9, 2015

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I had a friend who worked in Environmental Studies, and even he said that RoundUp is the right choice for dealing with poison ivy; that if you're careful to just get it on the plant you want to kill, it will just kill that plant but not the plants around it and not the fish in the stream.
posted by leahwrenn at 6:20 PM on May 9, 2015

JackFlash - Wow, that makes alot of sense.
posted by nickggully at 6:36 AM on May 10, 2015

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