What is the best way to remove poison ivy from a yard or trees without getting it all over yourself? I figured that even with an herbicide that the dead poison ivy would still need gathered up, and the oils would still cause problems
I suggest thick gardening gloves and a disposable paper suit you sometimes see landscapers or painters wearing. Once everything is stuffed into composting bags, throw out the suit and gloves (or be sure to clean the gloves appropriately if you want to reuse them).
Oh, and cover your face so you can't absently wipe your face with the back of your sleeve... :)
From my personal experience, what Stefan Mohr said is the basis. Only differences are what I use, which is:
- a heavy duty mechanics overall, the long sleeved, fully closed kind, legs of it tucked into also
- heavy duty work shoes, comfortable ones
- long sleeved socks, NOT worn outside the overall but inside as a second safety layer, the overall sleeves tucked into
- WELDERS HIDE GLOVES, that is, those that goes well up the forearm
- a sombrero
- if needed, to deal with ivy that is already up trees or up whatever, safety goggles, if not so, safety lenses can do
- a bandana put under the sombrero, hanging on the back of the head and neck and falling overlapped on the back of the overall, foreign legion fashion
- If there is a really bad infestation, if there's a thick masses of the ivy, it can exudate or if is mixed with already dried up parts that can crumble and make dust, a basic workshop mask or if things are not so bad, another bandana set over mouth and nose is always advisable as it protects from any sprig that could lash against the face when pulled down or up.
- If the ivy is not too thick, carefully pull it up from the soil or down the tree
- if this is not practical, then with a short machete cut, but cut, gently. not try to chop, pieces of the weed mass that are then manageable with the gloved hands.
- Then make a loose bunch of the cut and pulled off weeds and let it get dehydrated for a couple of hours under the sun
- then I mix the remains with either builders lime or gypsum (plaster if no gypsum available) depending of if the soil there is acidic or alkaline, so the weeds get well mixed with it, then allow it to dry more under the sun
- mixing at times for a day or two, covering with a plastic sheet if there's much or hard wind, or rain, uncovering the heap when there's sun
- dig a little shallow pit and set the mix there, adding some more lime or gypsum along with sand on the top.
This way there will seldom be left any viable seeds for next rainy season, and if some were left they can easily be spotted and cut or squashed as soon as they begin to sprout in that little contained space. I do this last part as I do not like at all "exporting" problems, as can happens if I just get the cut weeds into a plastic bag and send it to the garbage bin, but for who can't or won't do the lime or gypsum mix and bury of the weed remains, is a valid option, I guess.
After the gear is used:
- I would put some lime or gypsum and rub the gloves and shoes, as well as step on it, before taking them off
- then would peel off the sombrero, bandanas and then the overall letting all for the rest of the day under the sun and rain if any (not the gloves!).
- Then rub the hands gently with a bit of lime or gipsum powder
- take away the goggles or safety lenses (better goggles)
- again clean hands with some of the clean lime or gypsum from the sack.
I find better to leave this powder on the hands for a while than to wash immediately with soap and water. If you are wary of remains of uroshiol in your wear gear, wash it after letting it to dry under the sun, mainly the bandanas.
I have done this about two dozen times and haven't had any problem. Ah, a basic thing is to be patient, to do the work calmly and ponder all things, and this will avoid any error that can lead to contact of the naked parts of the body and the ivy. Take a good pee and poo before starting, so you don't have to be messing with it in the middle of the work, better safe than sorry.
This may sound crazy, but one way to do it is to get a goat and let it chow down on the stuff. Goats, and pretty much everything except humans, are immune to the effects of poison ivy and they are notoriously voracious.
Of course they will also indiscriminately eat the rose bushes next to the poison ivy too, so this is only practical if you (1) Can get and contain a goat; and (2) Don't have any plant life you want to save (including trees) near the poison ivy.
We use Roundup on poison ivy. It is restricted for sale here in Ontario, but poison ivy is a permitted use. We don't gather up the dead plants - or in fact notice any. Over the years I have developed a strong sensitivity to it, so I don't participate in getting rid of it, but I have no problems going places that poison ivy used to be, suggesting that the Roundup-killed plants and their oils go away after some number of months. The less you touch it the better, so any form of pulling it up and throwing it away is going to be problematic. The Roundup approach is not particularly easy - each plant gets an individal spray - but it does work.
Go to the pharmacy and buy some TecNu. It removes the oils from poison ivy, etc. from your skin.
I own property with a lot of poison ivy, I first discovered it by triming brush and found myself standing in a field of it. I have been using tecnu for many years and have not gotten the poison ivy rash. I take a bath with it. The hard part is washing it off with cool water. Tecnu is also good for fire ant bites. I buy my tecnu from Gemplers in the 32 oz size.