Controlling Poison Ivy

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Q. Poison ivy is taking over my garden bed. Is there anything I can do short of using chemicals?

A. Yes, pull it up, roots and all, but be very careful to suit up first. All parts of this plant (Toxicodendron radicans) have an extremely irritating oil that's released with the slightest disturbance. Wear long sleeves and pants and disposable gloves. Pull gently to get as many of the roots as possible. Try to avoid touching your shoes (or anything else that's hard to wash) with the plant. Place all the plant material in a trash bag and dispose of it. Then, remove your clothes, put them in the washer, dispose of the gloves and wash yourself immediately with cool water and a strong bar soap — or better, a soap made for poison ivy exposure.

Don't throw poison ivy into the compost pile. Also, never burn it; the poisonous oils can be inhaled.

If the poison ivy originated in that garden bed, you can remove it all with a few repeats of the above procedure. If it's creeping in from elsewhere, however, you'll have to make this exercise a fairly regular routine.

Note: The oily resin of poison ivy is active all year long. You can contract a rash by exposure to naked stems and roots in the winter.

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