Ground cover won't die, harboring poison ivy

BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)May 14, 2014

Shady bed under a pine tree. Gives me poison ivy if I'm anywhere near it. I actually don't even dare take the tractor in the grass around the bed because just the grass clippings have given me poison ivy before. Last year we actually hired someone to spray it, kill it, and then pull as much of it as possible. It's officially back with a vengeance.

The intent was to totally overhaul the bed, changing the growing conditions to make it less hospitable for the poison ivy. With this ground cover, the ivy gets interspersed throughout and we can't really spray or pull it (can't see what we're working with). Our ideas were 1) let the bed go to grass (grass will typically win over poison ivy) or 2) kill the ground cover, get the ivy under control by spraying/removing and then start over with some hostas, etc. that would still let us remove any ivy that took.

So, now that this ground cover seems un-killable, what do I do to evict the ivy?

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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

No ideas on the PI but the ground cover is Vinca major if that helps.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 3:56AM
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I have heard to spray (or paint) the old dull green leaves, not the new shiny ones with double dose of roundup. You might kill some of the vinca (is that variegated)?, but you can always get something else. best to get rid of the PI first.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 6:55AM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

I'd stick with the plan to kill everything and start over. I'm sure the spray last year at least got the process started. I'd purchase the generic RoundUp gallon spray can and get in there this week and spray anything green. Go back in two weeks and spray again. One week later, suit up with long pants, sleeves, and gloves, and pull up every plant and compost or place in black garbage bags. Then, patrol the bed weekly and spray or pull anything that sprouts. I hate to use chemicals, but I have pretty bad PI allergy and understand the misery it causes. By spraying first and repeating, hopefully you'll get the poison down to the roots to prevent re sprouting after you pull the vines out. I'm going through the same process to eliminate noxious foreign invasive plants on my property, and it just takes diligence. Good luck.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i dont see any PI in this pic...

and i challenge you to give us a pic of the plant you want to kill.. to insure the ID ...

i killed a giant patch of PI ... it took me two seasons ...

and then.. knowing the roots are also toxic... it let it lay fallow for another year ...

are you hoping to get this done inside of weeks???? that is not realistic ...

RU is LABELED for eradication of such ... and its mixed at a very different rate than for common annual and perennial plants... READ THE INSTRUCTIONS FOR WHATEVER YOU BUY... there are also killers specific to PI and vining plants ...

the base problem... is to picture an underground vine ... that every 8 inches or so.. throws up a vertical ... then you spray the vertical ... and i swear.. an inch or two back... in 4 to 6 weeks.. it throws up a new vertical... a few inches back .. you you have to attack it repeatedly until you have killed the underground vine ... what i later found out.. was that there was a one inch vine i was killing.. and it takes a lot of leaves sprayed.. to kill the monster below ...

if they are just bird sown PI seedlings.. they die on the first shot .;.

but you must start by insuring the ID of what you are killing ..


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:57AM
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agree with Ken..I don't see any PI either

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 8:16AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

Sadly, I'm not so sure grass will win out over PI. Last year was a horrific year here for PI - found it EVERYWHERE in my garden, where it had never been in the almost 20 years I;ve been living here, including just sprouting up in the middle of the lawn. I detest this stuff (partly because I'm sitting here scratching both arms because of it, lol!)


    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:06PM
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You can take cuttings of the vinca, if you want to replant it, but it's probably less of a headache to just buy some more. I agree that multiple treatments will be necessary.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:21PM
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BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)

No poison ivy has sprouted yet this year. Generally it doesn't come up until the vinca has covered the bed. By that point it's too hard to kill one and not the other. Hence last year's mission of killing both. I'm jumping ahead a bit by assuming that the PI will be back because the vinca is back.
I had always assumed that RU would work in one application. Apparently that's not true. I never studied the instructions for PI because I hired this one out. I guess we will just keep at it.
Thanks for your help!

    Bookmark   May 15, 2014 at 7:38PM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

The nature of capitalism is for purveyors of glyphosate to give you the minimal formulation required to keep most customers happy. Many who whom are just killing relative pushovers like annual grasses. I'm convinced a lot of formulas (including some "contractor" grade ones) are not quite as strong as they say they are.

I don't even mess with consumer grade material but I assume you don't have acres of this stuff. So just buy whatever they have at HD or Lowes. Use the maximum dilution - or a little bit more, maybe 30% more, but double the maximum dosage will just be wasteful or counterproductive. For a 40% glyphosate the max dilution is usually specified as ~6 oz per gallon. Add just a little bit of soluble plant food like miracle gro - 1/5 of the recommended dose so a bit less than 1/4 tsp. The plant food will encourage the vinca to take up the glyphosate. Add about a 1/2 teaspoon of dish soap per gallon. Consumer formulations claim they come with a surfactant, but in my experience for some weeds it's not worth a darn.

Obviously, spray on a day with no rain 8 hours before or after. IMHO, the best time is late afternoon. Trust me, the Vinca (and any young PI) will start dying in a week and will *not* come back if you do it right.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:37AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"Sadly, I'm not so sure grass will win out over PI. Last year was a horrific year here for PI - found it EVERYWHERE in my garden, where it had never been in the almost 20 years I;ve been living here, including just sprouting up in the middle of the lawn."


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 7:39AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Both Ortho and Lilly Miller market a herbicide specifically labeled for Poison Ivy. I use it every year here for wild blackberry. Much more effective than Roundup for tough vines.Al

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 9:56AM
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davidrt28 (zone 7)

"Much more effective than Roundup for tough vines"

It's true that selective auxin-type herbicides can be a bit more effective for brush. They certainly kill faster. But I have killed big swaths of blackberry with one fell swoop of a contractor glyphosate, strong dilution with Induce surfactant added. Again the problem is because it kills slowly people think it is light duty, which is really isn't. Ortho makes their Poison Ivy product selective because obviously must people are disgusted to see it in a lawn where kids could walk barefoot or whatnot and that's where they are likely to use it.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 10:35AM
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terrene(5b MA)

I have gotten rid of scads of Vinca minor and other weeds by mowing them down with a low setting on the lawn mower and then covering with double or even triple layers of cardboard. Then add a couple inches of mulch on top for appearance. In one year or less (in our climate anyway) the cardboard and weeds underneath are gone.

Good info on the herbicides David - I prefer to go a non-pesticide route if possible, but will use herbicides (carefully) on some of the terrible woody invasives here in the northeast US (i.e., buckthorns, oriental bittersweet, etc.). They are near impossible to eliminate without herbicide because they sprout vigorously from the roots and only once did I try to dig up a large Buckthorn (never again). I use a brush killer concentrate on the cut stumps, on occasion spray with a Brush-b-gone solution.

I kinda like poison ivy though! It's native, prett,y and makes berries for the birds - too bad it's so noxious to many humans (although, if you're trying to keep people away, this might be an advantage). I used to be really allergic as a young adult, but not any more.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 11:43AM
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diggerdee zone 6 CT

I'm sure it is the birds dropping PI into my lawn, and everywhere else. It's just odd that for 20 years it stayed in the woods, and then suddenly last year it was literally popping up everywhere in the yard.

It's almost like the darn stuff is challenging me - between my neighbor and myself, over the years we've been able to eradicate huges swaths of it in the woods between us, using vinegar. So now that we are winning that battle, it is deciding to pop up in other places!


    Bookmark   May 16, 2014 at 5:32PM
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bragu_DSM 5

bbp: I see no hint of pi, either.

Do you know if you might be allergic to the pine pollen? i have a terrible, rash like, thing with pine pollen.

I am pretty much immune to pi. go figger.

if it is getting on your tires, and that seems to bother you ...
i gotta wonder
otherwise, the pi spray bottle you get at lowes, specifically for pi, works. you need to spray it several times.

i had a patch of it for 20 years, and 3 sprayings over 2 years has "pretty much" taken care of it.

again i see no "leaflets three" in your pix


    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 3:22AM
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jayco(5b NY)

The only thing that works for me is a yearly pulling. Go out on a day after it has rained, wear gloves (2 pairs) and plan to wash everything, and yourself, immediately after. Brush aside the vinca foliage and look for the reddish PI leaves emerging. Grasp at bottom where they meet the vine, and gently pull, trying to get the whole vine. If the ground is wet and you do it early it works way better than RU.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 6:59AM
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BlueBirdPeony(5b NE Ohio)

All very good comments and suggestions. No, I am not allergic to pine sap. I catch it from this bed because the tractor will catch some at the edge of the bed and the clippings kind of fly everywhere. I am pretty allergic.
Again, the PI isn't up yet. It's too early here. Maybe in a few weeks.
Last year I waited to have it sprayed until the bulb foliage had died and could be removed. Didn't want to lose my dafs. This year I might just clip them back early and see if they make it. I can always plant more I guess.
I will report back with pics of the PI.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 10:49PM
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missingtheobvious(Blue Ridge 7a)

bragu talked about an allergy to pine pollen, not pine sap. My mom has that problem, and when she lived in a neighborhood full of 100' pines, she had to give up gardening during that season.

Take a look at your trees: do any have vines crawling up the trunks? (Not just 1/8" vine stems, but possibly 1-2" or larger.) Likely PI! Have someone non-allergic sever the vine stems near the ground and immediately paint both cut surfaces with Ortho PI killer concentrate. [If you did have PI vines up your trees, the entire area under those trees would have been showered all summer and fall with PI berries/seeds.]

PI stems and other parts remain contagious for up to 5 years, so you don't want to touch anything which might be a killed PI plant or a piece of a killed PI plant.

I have killed well over 95% or more of the PI which used to be on my acreage, but it's all over the neighborhood, and continues to show up here via the birds (predominantly under trees and fences), as well as seeds which wash downslope from the neighbors on both sides. On the south, numerous PI seedlings continue to show up in the lawn in particular places where runoff drains from the neighbor's property.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2014 at 11:22PM
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