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How to Kill Poison Ivy Roots

By Elizabeth Knoll ; Updated September 21, 2017

Poison ivy is a common--and noxious--weed in the United States. Just brushing up against this weed can cause a serious rash on the affected skin. Removing poison ivy can seem like a struggle. Simply killing the top growth on the plant isn't sufficient to keep it from coming back. You must remove all the poison ivy roots to be successful. To kill poison ivy roots, they will have to be smothered and then dug out and disposed of properly.

Remove the above-ground portion of the poison ivy. Use your pruning shears and prune away the poison ivy vines to ground level.

Lay tarps, black plastic, or any other material that will prevent sunlight from reaching the soil over the area where the poison ivy was. If sunlight can't reach the poison ivy, it can't grow.

Remove the covering that was used to smother the poison ivy after two weeks. Proceed to dig up the roots in the ground. Follow them to the end and make sure you remove every piece of root.

Dispose of poison ivy plant material in trash bags and put them out with the garbage.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Tarps or black plastic
  • Shovel
  • Trash bags


  • Do not burn poison ivy. The urushiol oil that is in the poison ivy will become air borne and this oil can severely injure your lungs.
  • Wear gloves, long pants and safety goggles when handling poison ivy. Simply brushing up against a leaf is enough to cause a nasty reaction.
  • Do not compost poison ivy. The urushiol oil can remain active for a long time after the plant is dead and can contaminate other areas of the garden.