How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy Without Killing Other Plants

How to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants!

Poison ivy is one of those weeds any homeowner would never want growing in their backyard. There is some point when anything grows anywhere, including undesirable plants.

It’s always good to look for poison ivy around your home, especially if you’ve children who like playing outside.

A single contact can cause a red itchy rash, leading to blisters or anaphylaxis. One can apply specific approaches to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants around.

How to Identify a poison ivy plant

The first step to getting rid of poison ivy is identifying it since you can’t work on something you’ve no idea of.

The plant has compound leave with three leaflets about 2 to 4 inches long with pointed tips.

Usually, the middle leaflet is larger than the other two laterals, and their margins are irregularly smooth or toothed.

The plant leaves are alternating on its stem, and its young foliage is shiny with a red tint. You can find it climbing on tree trunks or attaching itself to a fence.

It likes growing in areas with spotty sunlight, and in some cases, you may find it in shade places.

When it grows in a wooded area, it tends to intertwine with short plants like the fern, which explains why it’s challenging to get rid of it without causing harm to the surrounding plants.

How to Kill Poison Ivy without Killing other plants

There are both natural and chemical methods of getting rid of the poison ivy plant.

Natural Methods

1. Digging

Digging is an effective and cheapest ways to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants around.

It would be best to dig until you reach the roots, then pull it out. After which, you carefully kill all the parts so that they wouldn’t grow again.

However, there are some things you should consider before pulling the weed out using your hands.

Below are some steps to use when getting rid of poison ivy by digging

Step 1

The initial step is to wear the proper protective gear, including a pair of heavy gloves, gumboots, and trousers.

Your face should also be covered to avoid eye contact or breathe in.

Join the trousers with the shoes using tape to ensure there is a very low possibility of poison ivy coming into contact with your skin

Ensure there is no opening for the poisonous plant to get into contact with your body.

Step 2

Ensure you have all the necessary tools needed in the digging. They include a shovel, a trowel, and a pair of shears. The shears are for cutting the vines before you start digging.

You should not tear the leaves with hands just because you have gloves on as resin may circulate in the air affecting the people around.

Step 3

Studying the weather before you think of digging out the plant after the rains can be the best time for digging since the ground is soft and will not require so much energy.

However, it’s not advisable to dig under windy or rainy weather because the urushiol can be easily spread through the air.

Step 4

Dig until you see the plant’s roots which range around 3 inches deep.

Pull the plant out carefully, ensuring you don’t leave any root underground, and this can be achieved by digging a little past the roots.

This is to ensure that the plant doesn’t sprout again.

Step 5

After you’ve pulled the plant from the soil successfully, wrap it well using a double bag and throw it in the garbage.

Avoid touching it with bare hands even if it’s dead, as the impact is the same as a live one.

Don’t burn it as it emits dangerous fumes that cause respiratory problems when breathed in.

Step 6

Carefully remove your clothes and the protective gears and wash your body thoroughly. Also, wash the clothes and tools since the resin may be active for several years.

Use hot water to wash the clothes and ensure no residue is left on them.

Clean the shoes thoroughly before wearing them again.

2.  Boiling water

Pouring boiling water on a poison ivy plant is another way of getting rid of it. However, it works the best if there are no other useful plants around the weed.

This means that you can’t use boiling water in your garden unless the weed grows near other weeds or far from the useful plants because boiling water kills any plant it reaches.

To get rid of poison ivy, pour boiling water on it directly. The only drawback is that the roots underground may not be affected by the water meaning a new growth is likely to sprout.

Once you notice a new growth pour more boiling, the growth will disappear slowly over time.

This method can only be used on poison ivy growing in isolated places like the driveway where no other desirable plants grow.

3. Smothering

In getting rid of the poison ivy, smothering involves covering a plant patch with plastic paper or cardboard.

After some period, the underground part that wasn’t covered by the plastic may develop shoots. If it happens, cover the new shoots once more.

Chemical Methods

· Use of Herbicides

Herbicides is one of the Chemical methods on How to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants.

What you do is apply the herbicide carefully to the foliage directly. The concentration will depend on the directions given by the manufacturer.

To avoid harming the valuable plants around, go for the selective herbicide. Also, use a plywood sheet to keep the surrounding plants safe from over spraying.

If you’re afraid of your desirable plants, wipe the poison ivy using the herbicide, and this way, you’ll leave other plants safe.

The herbicide works best when it’s not raining to avoid washing off.

Do not spray during windy weather or use broadcast spraying.

A single strong application is less harmful to the ecosystem than light applications after short intervals.

Even though commercial herbicides have some negative impacts on the environment, it’s an effective method if the natural ones have failed.

The most used is Brush-B-Gone and Roundup since they consist of Triclopyr or Glyphosate as ingredients that enter the plant-killing it eventually.

However, any herbicide containing Glyphosate attacks any other plant that it lands on. If you’re killing poison ivy growing near other useful plants or grass, use a herbicide exclusive of Glyphosate.

It’s the best to use in an area where it’s just the weeds that are around the plant you’re getting rid of.

Purchase the one with active triclopyr since it’s safe for grass.

Herbicides are the fastest way of getting rid of poison ivy; however, you’ve to spray it from time to time until there is no more sprouting.

Note that you shouldn’t try removing the plant after spraying to avoid exposing yourself to the chemical and getting poison ivy rashes.

Be patient until it dries completely, and if you must remove it, wear the proper protective gear.

While spraying, hold the nozzle as close as possible the poison ivy leaves

· Use Vinegar

Not all kinds of vinegar in the market can kill poison ivy. The best one to use on poison ivy is Horticultural Vinegar which has a higher pH suitable for fast plant removal.

The main ingredient in vinegar is acetic acid which sucks out the moisture from the plant’s leaves.

Importance of Poison Ivy

The poison ivy plant has two important uses for the environment. The first is protecting the soil by acting as a ground cover, and the second is feeding the songbird with its fall berries.

Even though the plant is harmful to humans, it doesn’t affect wild animals such as birds.

Destroying it means replacing it with trees like berry-bearing trees for the birds or scrubs that will act as a ground cover.

You can also use wood chips as ground cover before the plants become taller. The new plants will ensure that the poison ivy doesn’t sprout again.

Below are some of the berry-producing plants that you can replace.

  • Mulberry
  • Spicebush
  • Crabapple
  • Blueberry
  • Cherry
  • Hawthorn

Since poison ivy is a creeping plant, replacing it with another creeping one is good.

Some of the plants to use as ground covers are; Wild native grape, clematis, and jewelweed.

You can also use a perennial ground cover like white clover to cover the soil without spreading aggressively.

Clover plant fixes soil nitrogen content, reduces erosion, and attracts pollinators.

When to Call a professional

There are poison ivy eradication services that can help you get rid of the harmful plant.

Even though some people would prefer using the affordable Do It Yourself methods, the plant’s invasion may become challenging to remove for a beginner.

Professionals can remove it that you’ll never see it again in your yard. If you have got a busy schedule and have no time to keep removing the plant, contact your local poison ivy professional for help.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

How can I get rid of Poison Ivy in a large area?

When the harmful poison ivy invests a large area, the use of herbicides may be too costly, and digging becomes impractical.

However, worry not because there is an effortless and affordable method.

As I mentioned above, poison ivy isn’t harmful to animals meaning that you can graze your goats on it without any health issues.

However, the urushiol may pass from the goats’ hairs into your skin, so it’s advisable to avoid touching animals that have been grazing on poison ivy.

If you don’t own the goats, you can get some from your neighbor or goat rental companies to help eradicate them.

Since the goats do not reach the roots, the plant may sprout again, meaning you’ll have to bring the goats again until its gone.

Can I use sheet mulch on Poison Ivy?

Yes, you can mulch the area where you’ve just dug the plant to ensure that the plant will not come back.

Sheet mulching can include using several layers of cardboard, then two feet of wood chips as mulch. After application, let it stay for a season to prepare the soil for planting.

The sun smothers and burns the remaining poison ivy roots to discourage further growth.

The multiple layers of woodchips also help the soil rejuvenate after herbicide application. After one year, you can uncover the area to plant desirable plants.

Never plant a crop that you’re planning to consume before a year is over because the herbicide or urushiol oil may not have faded away.

How do I keep poison Ivy from Emerging again?

I’m sure no one would love eradicating poison Ivy every season; that’s why you’ve to know ways of getting rid of the plant permanently.

As I mentioned earlier, one of the best ways to keep poison ivy from your yard is sheet mulching.

Ensure the mulching in is many layers to smoother any possible new growth. After at least a year, you can plant another plant in the area.

Can I Mow over Poison Ivy?

Mowing can also be applied in getting rid of poison ivy, but one should wear protective gear. The drawback to mowing is that the urushiol will spread in the air affecting you and those around you.


You now have some information on how to get rid of poison ivy without killing other plants using DIY solutions.

The methods are easy to apply even for beginners as long as they take safety precautions.

In case you are too busy to do the job, you can contact a professional to get the job done for you.

Always wear protective gear when around a poison ivy plant to avoid skin rashes or respiratory issues.

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