Poison ivy is the bane of gardeners and homeowners who have wooded areas either on their property or nearby. This invasive plant contains uroshiol, an oil that causes severe skin irritation upon contact. There are natural, chemical and mechanical methods to kill poison ivy. Wear protective clothing when doing any work around this plant.
Use natural methods to kill poison ivy when you don't want to deal with chemicals or have access to mechanical methods. A variety of methods are available including smothering, drowning with boiling water, removal and soap. Use smothering to stop the plant from growing; cut back the leaves and stems, then cover the plant with cardboard or tarps. Smothering requires leaving the area covered for days to deprive the plant of sunlight and moisture. Boiling water burns and drowns the plant simultaneously. Boil water in a metal container, then immediately pour the water over the ivy plant. Pulling the plant up by the roots is another method of killing the plant. Use a soap mixture to kill ivy. Combine 4 tbsp. liquid soap with 1 qt. water; put the mixture into a spray bottle and apply to the plant.
Chemical methods are used when quick and permanent response is wanted. Chemicals include herbicides such as Roundup and Ortho that kill plants on contact. Look for these products to come in spray or powder applications. Use caution with chemical applications when you have dogs or small children, because the chemicals may also be harmful to pets and people if injested or the skin is exposed directly to the herbicide.
Repeated trimming or mowing can eventually kill poison ivy. This process takes multiple executions to be effective; meanwhile the plant can reproduce and spread elsewhere. Mechanical methods may be the least effective method to kill poison ivy. Wash off any parts that come into contact with the plant, because the oil from the plant will transfer onto the parts or the entire machine.