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Ask Burton: This week, a tougher question about what to do when your landscape has been taken over by hazardous vines. Q: I made an unpleasant discovery. Poison ivy is growing in the flowerbed on the side of my house, and it’s growing through and on things. Of course, I learned this was poison ivy the hard way, and got a nasty rash. I need to get rid of this!

Posted on May, 25

A: Ouch! Poison ivy can cause a painful rash, and you do need to remove it. It’s tough when it’s growing in beds with desirable plants.

As a first step, stop by your local drugstore and buy a bottle of Tecnu. It’s a cleanser that will clean the urushiol oil (the cause of the rash) off your skin when used immediately after you’re finished with the vine removal. Trust me – you’ll want it. Prepare by wearing gloves, long-sleeved clothing, long pants, a hat, and (optionally) safety glasses or sunglasses. Be careful to not touch your face during the removal process. You’ll need a bottle of brush and stump killer as well – we’d recommend our ferti-lome Brush and Stump Killer.

Weed out small sprouts of poison ivy entirely, but sometimes it’s too well established for this to be easy. For older vines, clip them off just above soil level, then use a disposable foam paint brush to dab brush killer directly on to the freshly cut stub. Apply the stump killer as you go – the cuts will seal up enough to not absorb herbicide in less than half an hour. Brush and stump killers can easily damage desirable trees and shrubs from both contact and soil absorption, and this method of application reduces the amount of collateral damage.

You’ll still need to remove the cut vines above ground, because dry and dead poison ivy can still cause the rash. Be careful as you remove the debris. Clean up immediately after with the Tecnu, which also has instructions on how to use it in the laundry.

You may have a few sprigs struggle back up here and there after cleaning out a bad area. Treat them with the same mercy – none! You’ll get control before long.