How to Kill Poison Ivy Outside


Poison ivy is a very common--and very noxious--weed. It can be found anywhere from your backyard to the forest. Poison ivy can be pretty tough to eradicate as it grows back from the roots readily. Also when you are attempting to remove it, it's very possible to get covered in it. This may cause you to break out in a severe rash. With some good skin protection, a little patience, and the right equipment it is possible to successfully kill poison ivy outside.

Step 1

Identify poison ivy on your property. Poison ivy has leaves that are very identifiable. Poison ivy consists of compound leaves with three pointed leaflets. The middle leaflet contains a much longer stem than the two side leaves. Leaves vary in size from 1/4 inch to 2 inches in length. In spring when they emerge they are reddish, change to green in the summer, and then change to yellow, red, or orange in autumn. It grows as a vine, singled-stemmed bush, or as a low-growing ground cover. See resources for a picture.

Step 2

Smother the poison ivy. Use the pruning shears and cut back all the above ground stems of the poison ivy plant and cover the area with plastic sheeting, mulch, newspaper, or tarps. These are all smothering agents which prevent sunlight from reaching the poison ivy. Plastic sheeting, mulch, and tarps are available at your local home improvement store. You can use any old newspaper you have lying around. Leave the smothering agent there for a few weeks to kill the plant.

Step 3

Remove the root system of poison ivy. Dig up the ground around the poison ivy plant and follow the root system. Remove every last bit of root to prevent it from re-sprouting.

Step 4

Dispose of the poison ivy. Seal the poison ivy stems, leaves, and roots in a plastic bag. Set out with the trash.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not compost or burn the poison ivy as this will release the urushiol oil into the environment. Keep all skin, eyes, and nose covered when working near or with poison ivy. Don't remove poison ivy on a windy day. The seeds and urushiol oil can be spread elsewhere.

Things You'll Need

  • Long pants
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Safety goggles
  • Dust mask
  • Pruning shears
  • Shovel
  • Trash bags


  • How to Get Rid of Things: How to Get Rid of Poison Ivy
  • Effective Poison Ivy Removal

Who Can Help

  • What Poison Ivy Looks Like
Keywords: kill poison ivy outside, urushiol oil, root system, above ground stems