How to Kill the Poison Ivy in Several Steps

Poison Ivy is a very toxic plant found in some parts of North America. It has hollow, three-lobed leaves that consist of an oval shape. These leaves are usually shiny and they may appear to be mottled depending on the environment where the poison ivy grows. The vine has clusters of greenish-white flowers. These typically grow between spring and autumn.

Poison ivy sprouts yellowish-green flowers between spring and autumn each year. Its vines have clusters of mottled green leaves with three lobes, which are usually shiny or mottled depending on the environment where it is planted.

For those who have encountered poison ivy, you know how serious it can be. It is a plant that produces a toxin on the surface of the three-leafed vines and stems. This toxin reacts toon your skin by causing acute inflammation and severe itching.

It’s mid-summer, hot, sunny and bright outside – not an ideal condition for poison ivy. But the mowing season has just started, and mowers are everywhere mowing away at lawns all over America.

What about these mowers? Are they spreading poison ivy around the neighbourhood while mowing lawns?

The good news is that mowers do not spread poison ivy around. The bad news is mowing poison ivy plants does not kill them either.

How can poison ivy be killed? 

Step 1: Mowing poison ivy

In mowing, the plant is cut down close to the ground and then mowed again a few days later. This allows time for the plant’s cells to break open and release resins that were trapped within. When mowing is repeated a third time, all of these toxins are released and mowed down. If mowing isn’t desired, the plant can be cut and treated with a homemade poison ivy killer

To mow down the poison Ivy plant, mow as close as possible to the ground without cutting it. This will ensure contact between your mower blades and the root system of the poison Ivy which will eventually kill it.

However, mowing does not remove the leaves, which contain the toxic oil (urushiol). When mowing exposes more of these leaves, they can still cause contact dermatitis. Mowing causes poison ivy plants to grow back faster and healthier–not good for your health or your mower!

Poison ivy/poison oak mixtures are mowed with blade mowers. The mower acts like a grinder, cutting the plant into small pieces that lie on the lawn surface or get blown by the mower’s discharge chute to other parts of the yard. Poison ivy mixtures are mowed in early spring (late February-early March) and fertilized. 

However, mowing should not be done until the plant has at least three leaves (sometimes this means mowing in late April), which reduces the height of the mowed plant by one foot, making mowing much easier and more effective. This may require mowing several times–ideally removing half or more of the mowed plant each time mowing is done.

Mowing mixtures in July may not kill the mowed poison ivy and mowing mixtures in August or later rarely to kill it. Mowings in late summer or early fall will make poison ivy grow back faster and usually more toxic.

If you feel that mowing is the right way to kill your poison ivy mixtures you should mow frequently, mowing as often as possible. Your mower blades should be sharpened or replaced at least once a year.

Homemade poison ivy killer is mowing with gasoline. This has been done by some people who are opposed to using chemicals of any kind. However, mowing with gasoline is dangerous and can be explosive.

After mowing poison ivy, take care not to expose the mower-ravaged ground to direct sunlight, as it can dry out and further damage the soil. Cover the mowed area with a thick layer of mulch until the grass begins to grow again. The best types of mulch for this purpose is either wood chips or black plastic, as both serve as physical barriers that protect the mowed area from the sun.

Step 2: Homemade poison ivy killer

Multiple homemade poisons can be used to kill poison ivy and some of them work better than others – some you’ll want to try and some you won’t. Some don’t work at all (so don’t waste your time) and some mixtures are downright dangerous so read the article carefully.

The most popular homemade poison ivy killer is Boiling Water. Burned poison ivy with boiling water is both easy to concoct and pretty darn effective – it works too well probably because boiling water does a really good job of killing everything it is it plant, insect, spider mite or bacterium. But boiling water will kill your grass as well as your poison ivy – be careful where you dump it!

Boiling Water burns the leaves and also dehydrates them. It’s a pretty good solution if you do not have a mower but don’t mow any more than once because mowing only once will not kill the plant and mowing more than once might prove difficult.

Boiling Water is also effective in killing poison ivy vines but most folks don’t mow poison ivy vines so there is no reason to use it.

One way to kill the poison ivy is through mowing, which usually takes several attempts to successfully remove all parts of the plant. Here’s how:

  1. Put on a long-sleeved shirt, pants, goggles, and gloves. Depending on the severity of the poison ivy plants found in your area, you may need to put mitts or taping over the areas that will be exposed after mowing.
  1. Mow through each part of the poison ivy plant using a mower with sharp blades that are meant for tall grasses. Make sure that you mow each section of the poison ivy at least twice, preferably on different days.
  1. Take a garden sprayer and mix half teaspoonfuls of dishwashing soap with one gallon of water as your DIY poison ivy killer to kill the roots of the poison ivy plant.
  1. Fill another bucket with tap water. Spray this DIY poison ivy killer on the mowed parts of the poisonous plant to kill any remaining roots.

Step 3: DIY poison ivy killer

Another way to mow or kill poison ivy is through homemade poison ivy killer mixtures that you can prepare at home and use as your DIY poison ivy killer. Here’s how:

Make a mowing mixture by mixing 50 per cent dishwashing soap and 50 per cent water in a spray bottle. Spray this homemade poison ivy killer mixtures on the mowed parts of the poisonous plant to kill any remaining roots.

Fill another bucket with tap water. Mix 1 tablespoonful of salt and 1/2 tablespoonful of dishwashing liquid to prepare a mop-up mixture.

Use the mop-up mixture as your DIY poison ivy killer by moping up the mowed parts of the poisonous plant and any mixtures that you used as your homemade poison ivy killer on it.

Rinse the mowed parts of the poisonous plant and mop up mixtures by spraying DIY poison ivy killer mixtures on them.

Spray the mowed parts of the poisonous plant with half teaspoonfuls of dishwashing liquid and one gallon of water after mowing to remove any remaining DIY poison ivy killer mixtures.

It may take several mowings or sprayings before completely removing the poisonous plant from your area. However, if you want to be sure that you mowed all parts of it, do not mow or spray the poisonous plant for at least one week.

After mowing the poison ivy and killing its roots, mow your lawn to keep any remaining parts from growing back. Also, make sure to mow around the perimeter of your property to prevent any possible re-growth. Keep mowing your lawn and removing any new mixtures of DIY poison ivy killer mixtures that you used to kill the poisonous plant until it does not grow back.

DIY mixtures of diesel fuel and turpentine mixtures to kill the poison ivy weed

A mixture of diesel fuel and turpentine can be made in order to kill poison ivy. You should wear gloves when you are applying this mixture to the plant since this homemade mixture is deadly for humans too. Here is how to kill the poison ivy by mixtures of diesel fuel and turpentine:

Mix two parts of diesel engine oil with one part of turpentine. Put this mixture in a plastic bottle and shake well until the mixtures are blended. You can use this homemade mixture to kill poison ivy plants in your yard.

DIY mixtures of dish soap and water to kill the poison ivy weed

If you hate mowing your grass because it’s covered with poison ivy, then you should use these mixtures of dish soap and water. The mixtures will kill the poison ivy in a few days if they are applied correctly. Here is how to kill the poison ivy with mixtures of dish soap and water:

Mix two tablespoons of dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water. Shake this mixture well until it’s blended. You can spray mixtures on poison ivy plants, especially on the leaves’ mottles. However, you need to apply mixtures several days in a row to kill the poison ivy completely.

DIY mixtures of bleach and full-fat milk to kill the poison ivy weed

A mixture of full-fat milk and white vinegar can also be used to kill the poison ivy weed. The mixtures will prevent the mottling of leaves if they are applied correctly. Here is how to kill the poison ivy plant:

Mix some diluted bleach in some milk and add it to your mixtures of white vinegar. Put mixtures in a plastic spray bottle and shake them well until the mixtures are blended. You can use this homemade mixture to kill poison ivy plants that grow in your fence or backyard.

DIY mixtures of gasoline mixtures to kill the poison ivy weed

You can use mixtures of gasoline to get rid of poison ivy. However, these mixtures can cause a fire hazard if they come in contact with flame or another heat source. Here is how you can kill the poison ivy by mixtures of gasoline mixtures:

Mix some dishwashing liquid with mixtures of gasoline in a spray bottle. Shake mixtures well until they are blended. You can use mixtures of gasoline mixtures to kill poison ivy on your fence or your backyard’s soil surface area.


Can you breathe in poison ivy when mowing?

Yes, but mowing poison ivy does not produce the same instant itchy skin reaction as direct contact with the plant. The oil is airborne during mowing and you can inhale some of it while mowing. However, mowing itself does not cause an allergic skin response like touching or brushing against poison ivy foliage does.

The best practice is to mow poison ivy plants in the early morning or late evening when low wind speeds reduce airborne concentrations. You can mow poison ivy plants just before mowing your regular lawn. 

The mowed grass clippings are not likely to cause problems unless they are matted down onto exposed skin, which could transfer the poisonous oil to the skin of the mower. Otherwise, mowed grass clippings will biodegrade quickly and even if some oil is present it would be unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

Can you get poison ivy from mowing over it?

Yes, mowing over poison ivy can spread the urushiol oil from the plant onto mower blades and other parts of a mower.

Once it gets onto mower blades, people can get a rash when they come in contact with a mower while mowing or from brushing against the mower again later.

To keep mowing over poison ivy safe, mow in a different direction than usual so you mow on the side of the mower rather than on top. This way mower blades aren’t coming into contact with poison ivy or its oil.

If mowing in a new direction is impossible, consider renting another mower to mow in the other direction or mow at a time when you can mow in a different direction.

Should you mow poison ivy?

Mowing poison ivy will not do any good.

What mowing would do is cut the vine off at ground level where it originates. 

When mowed, these vines send out new shoots.

Yes, mowing does kill poison ivy, but only temporarily because mowing results in numerous new shoots that are just as poisonous as the previous poison ivy vines.

What mowing does is to set the stage for a recurring cycle of mowing, then mowing again and mowing once more all in one season. 

The mower has to keep on moving over and over because no matter how often mowed down, these vines will always grow more shoots.

The mower also has to mow along the same line where the poison ivy is located every time. 

Mowing poison ivy not only requires considerable mowing expertise, but it also means mowing over and over again with an increasing degree of difficulty.

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