How to Kill Poison Ivy & Poison Oak


Few plants have caused gardeners more misery than poison ivy and poison oak. Members of the Sumac family found in a wide area of North America, poison ivy and poison oak contain a chemical in their sap known as urushiol, which can cause an itchy rash, inflamed red skin and painful blisters after contact. Although poison ivy and poison oak can often be a challenge to kill, the plants can be adequately controlled with herbicides.

Step 1

Dress defensively before approaching poison ivy or poison oak. Wear a long-sleeved shirt, a pair of long pants, garden gloves and boots to cover exposed skin to prevent direct skin contact with the harmful plants.

Step 2

Trim poison ivy or poison oak to the ground with a pair of garden shears or loppers, and then carefully remove the foliage from the work area.

Step 3

Spray plants with glyphosate --- a non-selective herbicide commonly found in nurseries and home and garden centers. Take care not to drench the poison ivy or poison oak with the herbicide to avoid harming other desired plants in the landscape.

Step 4

Reapply glyphosate in a week to 10 days if plants have not died completely. Poison ivy and poison oak are prolific growers that may require several applications of glyphosate to eradicate.

Tips and Warnings

  • Never attempt to eradicate poison ivy or poison oak plants by burning. Burning plants can release poison chemicals in the air, causing breathing problems as well as severe allergic skin and eye reactions. Tuck pant legs in boots to avoid accidental skin exposure when working with poison ivy or poison oak.

Things You'll Need

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants
  • Garden gloves
  • Boots
  • Garden shears or loppers
  • Glyphosate


  • Oregon State University Extension Service: Poison Oak and Poison Ivy
  • Great Plains Nature Center: Poison Ivy
  • Missouri Department of Conservation: Poison Ivy: How to Identify and Control

Who Can Help

  • Poisonous Plants: Identifying Poison Ivy and Others
Keywords: kill poison ivy poison oak, kill poison ivy, kill poison oak

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.