How to Kill Poison Ivy in a Garden


Poison ivy, a member of the Cashew family, is a woody, flowering vine that grows prolifically from areas of southern Canada to Mexico. This deciduous plant contains a chemical called urushiol, which, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is one of the most common allergens associated with outbreak of contact dermatitis. Because poison ivy can be so harmful to people who come in contact with the plant, it's particularly important to eradicate from garden areas and other parts of the landscape whenever possible.

Step 1

Cover as much exposed skin as possible before approaching suspected plants. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, full-length pants and garden gloves to avoid having any of the poison ivy's harmful chemicals from reaching your skin.

Step 2

Identify the plant. A number of plants or vines resemble poison ivy including fragrant sumac, box elder and Virginia creeper. Poison ivy can grow as a vine, ground cover or a freestanding shrub and has compound leaves in a three-leaf pattern. Flowers or off-white waxy berries, that serve as food for woodpeckers, quails and pheasants, may also be present on the stems. If additional information is required for identification, call or visit the website of your local cooperative extension office.

Step 3

Trim the poison ivy carefully to a height of six inches above the ground with a garden lopper or garden shears. Remove trimmed plant material from garden area completely.

Step 4

Spray poison ivy with glyphosate. This chemical can be found in most nurseries or garden centers in ready-to-use or concentrated forms. Since glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide that will kill any type of vegetation, care should be taken to avoid harming other nearby garden plants.

Step 5

Repeat spraying with glyphosate if poison ivy persists. Two or more applications may be required to completely kill any remaining plants.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attempt to control the spread of poison ivy by burning the plants. The oil in the poison ivy can vaporize while it burns causing severe irritation to eyes or exposed skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden gloves
  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Full-length pants
  • Garden lopper or garden shears
  • Glyphosate
  • Garden sprayer


  • Great Plains Nature Center: Poison Ivy
  • American Academy of Dermatology: Skin Rashes
  • Missouri Department of Conservation Online: Poison Ivy: How to Identify and Control

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida: Poisonous Plants: Identifying Poison Ivy and Others
Keywords: kill poison ivy, getting poison ivy out of your garden, getting rid of poison ivy

About this Author

Barbara Biehler is a freelance writer who has written articles for and eHow, as well as online specialty courses for She has a B.A. in English from the University of Central Florida, and over 15 years experience in business development, sales, and marketing. An avid gardener, cook, and voracious reader, Barbara resides with her family near Nashville, Tennessee.