I just moved into a new apartment (in Brooklyn, NY) with my own backyard. My girlfriend and I are very excited. However, my backyard is overgrown with that vine-looking-green-stuff.

My current plan is to go to Home Depot, get a pair of gardening scissors and a bottle Round Up. I'm thinking of cutting down the plants, put them in plastic bags to throw away, and spray the whole bottle of Round Up all over the backyard. I am not looking to put lawn or anything - just hard soil to put a table and a couple of chairs will be good.

Should I go ahead? It's not poison ivy, right?

enter image description here

enter image description here

  • 1
    Brush against it with a small portion of one finger, to determine whether or not this is stinging nettle. Looks like you've got plenty of work to do, which means maybe more questions here! :) I agree with the posting of closeups, at various angles, for best ID.
    – J. Musser
    Jul 18, 2014 at 21:44
  • 1
    @work and eager to go home and work on it :)
    – Joseph
    Jul 18, 2014 at 22:00
  • Sounds great! Try to find out what the root system looks like as well.
    – J. Musser
    Jul 18, 2014 at 22:03
  • Took a peek on the internet and found these pictures. google.com/…
    – stormy
    Jul 19, 2014 at 6:24
  • I'm really sure these aren't stinging nettle.
    – J. Musser
    Jul 20, 2014 at 1:02

5 Answers 5


This looks like stinging nettles. Wear long pants, gloves and long-sleeved shirt to weed wack down to a manageable level. Rake out and put in your compost. Or bag in heavy black contractor bags. Don't allow those flowers to go to seed!

You'll probably have to use glyphosate or brush-killer to get rid of blackberries. It might be good to try solarization to kill your weeds. Purchase a big roll of clear plastic and allow the heat to work. Leave the plastic on for the rest of the summer.

Stinging nettles are wonderful cooked like spinach. The stingers are on the underside of the leaves. You can grab a leaf by the top, fold it over and over squishing the stingers and then pop the ball into your mouth and eat it! This is a party pleaser, especially with those who have been stung before. I've done this and was famous for a day.

Please send close-ups of the plants to more closely identify them. Or touch the bottom of a leaf to feel. Use vinegar to get rid of the sting...I think, grin.

  • I looked for poison ivy but couldn't see anything from your pictures that looked like poison ivy. Need to see more pictures close-up. Lots of different plants...
    – stormy
    Jul 18, 2014 at 19:14
  • Thank you stormy. I will take a close-up pictures and progresses as I go along!
    – Joseph
    Jul 18, 2014 at 19:15
  • 1
    It's hard to be sure without close-up images, but those don't look like any nettles I'm familiar with: the leaf arrangement is different, and the leaves themselves look too smooth. While I could be wrong, I definitely wouldn't recommend eating them until you're sure you know what they are. Jul 19, 2014 at 1:05
  • You are so correct...I didn't want anyone to think that was a firm diagnosis. Thank you for mentioning this. Definitely need some close ups of their plants, first.
    – stormy
    Jul 19, 2014 at 6:07
  • @IlmariKaronen Might be False Nettle: illinoiswildflowers.info/woodland/plants/false_nettle.htm but there are a lot of woodland understory plants with roughly that shape and leaf structure. Jul 25, 2014 at 16:18

Firstly, it's generally a good idea to wear gloves and maybe long sleeves when dealing with a plant you don't recognize.

It's hard to tell what this plant is without a closer picture of the leaves but you can look out for distinct features of the leaves and, if present, flowers or fruit. A quick search online should provide you with comparison images and guides on poison ivy's distinguishing features but if in doubt it does no harm to wear protective clothing anyway.

In terms of the cutting down and round up option, I would first see how easy it is to uproot the plants as weedkiller can be pretty expensive (certainly is where I live).

  • Alpar, thank you very much for your suggestion! I will watch out for unidentified plants.
    – Joseph
    Jul 18, 2014 at 19:16

A word about Round up - this is a systemic herbicide which works 'through the green', which means it needs plants to be growing strongly, with plenty of leaves and growth, to be most effective. If you want to kill these plants with it, you will need to spray all the leaves and stems, and NOT cut them down first.

Not sure what they are, picture's a bit fuzzy (cell phone picture?) except to say they're definitely not stinging nettles, but as someone else has said, I'd check and see how easy they are to dig up or pull out before using weedkiller of any description.

I also recommend you get some secateurs/shears to cut back the ivy vine (I think you guys call it English Ivy) that's growing over the fence, and apparently up various walls, preferably before what's coming over the fence ends up rooting in the ground your side. Round Up treatment will not kill it - it'll shrivel the leaves temporarily, but it'll be back.


Note, this is a community wiki answer: Everyone, please feel free to improve this answer with your own findings/knowledge. This is an attempt to identify all of the plant species pictured. If you find what you think is a match, please enter it under the corresponding list no., with common and latin names, and a wiki link. If you are unsure, but have a guess, use 'possibly'. If you see an unnumbered species, please add a number, or if you don't know how, notify us in a comment below the post. To post info on the other aspects of the question, please use the answer box below, to post your own answer. This post deals solely with the part.

enter image description here

enter image description here

No. 1: Unknown

No. 2: Pokeberry, Phytolacca americana

No. 3: Boston Ivy, Parthenocissus tricuspidata

No. 4: Virginia creeper, Parthenocissus quinquefolia

No. 5: Poison ivy, Toxicodendron radicans

No. 6: Mock strawberry, Duchesnea indica

No. 7: Possibly Goosefoot, Chenopodium sp.,

No. 8: Yellow woodsorrel, Oxalis stricta

No. 9: Unknown

No. 10: Unknown

No. 11: Unknown

  • Great eyesight! And Bamboo is correct, if you use glyphosate you should apply it while there is a lot of photosynthetic growth so that it can translocate to the roots more effectively. Be careful with spraying, it doesn't take much to drift onto stuff you want to keep...perhaps the virginia creeper or other plants outside this area. For solarization, I would weedwack it all down before I covered this area in plastic.
    – stormy
    Jul 20, 2014 at 22:10

From a fellow Brooklyn resident- A few of these are actually massive underground weeds whose root systems (some believe) span multiple city blocks in a single plant! Throwing pesticide at something like that really only pollutes our back yards.

Our yard looked very similar to that 3 years ago, and the solution was simply a huge amount of manual labor.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.