Q. How can we get rid of poison ivy that’s growing along the ground and up trees all over our yard. We want to make the area safe for our children? — R.S., Suffern, NY
A. Late summer is an ideal time to get rid of poison ivy because the plant has little time to recover before winter dormancy.
Wearing clothing that completely protects all exposed skin, pull all the vines off trees and lay them on the ground. Apply an herbicide specifically formulated for poison ivy control to all the foliage and stems, following label directions. Next year, any surviving shoots can be pulled up by their roots.
If you prefer to use no chemicals, try covering all the leaves and stems with black polyethylene, held down with stakes or a layer of wood chips or mulch. Without light for a year, the plant will not survive. Alternatively, you can locate every plant stem and pull it out by its roots.
Most importantly, protect yourself. All parts of the poison ivy plant, alive or dead, carry urushiol, the oil that causes problems. Never burn poison ivy, because even the smoke can cause serious injury.