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Poison oak removal, tell me your story (x-posted in mindful home)

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So we just moved to CA from AZ last year, and I had never seen poison oak. Or had never know what I was seeing was poison oak I should say. Until I got it last week from the knees down to the ankles.

We have a small amount of it on our third of an acre property. The problem is, my neighbor with severe mental illness had an 8 foot poison oak tree growing right on her side of the fence, and at least half of the poison oak in our yard appears to be emanating from that spot. Right now my method of removal is wetting the ground, digging with a shovel as much of the plant out, and putting it in the green bin. The new plan, after 15 minutes of digging and seeing that the root system is huge is buying herbicide and spraying that on the roots after digging the plant up. The plants are only 2 inches tall in this section of the yard. Does this seem effective, had anyone done it before. This is my first time ever using herbicide, but I feel like the risk of getting this rash again, or my son getting it outweighs the risk of herbicide. Also are you comfortable using herbicide when you are 5 months pregnant? I am, but my husband insists he should be the one to do it. I feel like he usually does a half-ass job at anything yard-related and I would rather do it myself (don't get me wrong, he's wonderful at other things like cooking and making me feel loved.)

Anyone BTDT, helpful advice, commiseration about the evils of poison oak?
post #2 of 9
I am NOT a sprayer... ever.... with the exception of PO! That stuff is AWFUL and I've had it so bad that I had to get a shot because my eyes started to close up. So, I just really don't mess around with it anymore. The root system is very intense and can stay viable in the soil for decades. So, even though an old root/branch has been "dead" for a bit, one bit of the sap on your skin and you're doomed. The black pitchy stuff on the inside is really awful, can actually burn the spot it touches. Just so you know it's not only the leaves which cause itching. My husband is completely anti spraying (he doesn't get a bad rash, just a few little bumps!) so he refuses to do it but I go nuts on it but only when I'm not pregnant or bfing and since I've been consecutively doing both for over 5 years now our PO situation is fairly dire. So, I feel ya! You can try mowing it over and over, but it will always come back. Always. Even spraying it won't kill it completely since it can re-grow from the roots, but I was beginning to get a good handle on it by year 3 of spraying the leaves. As far as I know, spraying the roots does nothing? At least not with the type I use.

Every other part of our yard is completely organic ---

Good luck!
post #3 of 9
WHat you're going to want to do is go get the poison ivy roundup. I probably wouldn't spray it. You can do the cut & paint method. It will minimize the vaporization & spray over.

Roundup works only on the plant it is applied to, and travels through the plant's system to the roots to kill it dead. It's not active in the soil. I would wait until your neighbor is out, and paint direct roundup onto her "tree". Sounds like you could just reach right over the fence & do it. You can kill any runners by getting the mother plant, because it will travel through the rhizomes to the babies.

If your husband won't do a sufficient job, get a really good mask & wear gloves. Or maybe hire someone to do it if you're really worried.

Just make sure to follow the directions exactly, and you should be fine.
post #4 of 9
We've been battling Poision Ivy. I've heard there are two methods... dig it up or spray it. So, DH thought he covered up well in a disposable paint suit and gloves. He dug it up and tied it in a bag, left out in the sun before disposal in the trash. DH got terrible poison ivy. So the next spring we bought the Poison Ivy round-up and started spraying. Every time it reappears, we re-spray. It's not gone but it's WAY better and I don't regret spraying it one bit!!
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
So I'm curious with the spray only method, and no plant removal, don't you worry about getting the rash from the dead plant? And don't you still have to remove the dead plant?

I'm terrified of getting the rash again (actually I still have it almost two weeks after exposure) and even more terrified of my son getting it. So I though removal of the above surface plant was essential to preventing the rash. Am I wrong? Can I just spray the plants above ground (most are only 2 inches high) and then let it die back?
post #6 of 9
We have folks here who have made a business of letting their goats eat poison ivy! They'll go to folks' houses, area parks, etc, and put the goats in a temporary fence to eat it.

I know a lot of people who spray round up, but I'm anti-pesticide so I won't do that and I definitely wouldn't do it while pregnant. DH covered a bad patch of poison ivy we have with a tarp and left it to bake in the sun. Maybe you could make that area a rock garden with pavers? If your neighbor doesn't get rid of the "tree" you'll continue to have a problem as long as you live there.

I'm in the Southeast and while we do have poison oak here poison ivy is more common. It spreads by runners and seed propagation (birds eat the berries and poop out the seeds). It especially loves woods edges. When I see small amount in our yard I put on gloves and a plastic bag on my hands. I pull up the plant and then flip the bag inside out over the plant and tie it and throw it away. Then I come in and wash up thoroughly.

It's very common here so I don't freak out about it. Pretty much any natural area you go to is liable to have poison ivy so unless you want to spend all your time in parking lots and golf courses and manicured lawns you'll see it here. It's important to learn to recognize it and to teach kids to recognize it so you can avoid contact with it. Some people are more allergic than others and there are products out there like Technu wash that are supposed to help you avoid the rash. I've never used that, but know folks who've had good results. I just wash with soap and water and I usually don't get the rash, but I have had it before. Jewelweed and the herb plantain are also supposed to counteract poison ivy/oak/sumac. For a long time I wasn't allergic at all, but you can develop an allergy to it at any time. DH and I neither one got the rash until we were in our 30s. Our kids have never had it. A lot of kids aren't allergic, but some are so I tell them to avoid it and they know exactly what it looks like.

Good luck!
post #7 of 9
My DS1 (17yo) has poison oak on his face right now! The only thing that helped was regular salt water rinses, and washing w fels naptha 2x a day followed by home made lavender lotion.

We were in someone else's woods and he pointed it out and said that's poison oak, stay AWAY from it-- I guess 3 of us listened, poor baby!

Anyway, I have sheep that will come eat it for you! Seriously, I have heard cut and paint is way more effective than spray, and I second the PO roundup (did a recommendation for herbicide just come out of my mouth/ keyboard!?) yes, for something as damaging and PO, I would use it.

Also, you have to do something about the "tree" on the neighbor's side-- I think there are laws in most cities against letting noxious weeds grow up. Call the county extension office for help w removal on the neighbor's side.

Also, and most important-- please reconsider doing this job while pg-- please ask a friend or relative to do it or hire it out-- it's just not worth the risk to you and baby to use herbicides while pg.

post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Well I did half of it tonight, the stuff in the main yard where my dogs, and child run around, so I feel a big weight off of my chest.

I am terrified that I may have gotten exposed in the removal process though. When I was done working I noticed a dime sized hole in my gloves, and there was one time where my shirt sleeve came untucked from my glove. I washed the areas that I thought were exposed in denatured alcohol then bathed in fels naptha, and I'm praying praying praying I didn't get the rash...I still have another half the yard to do.

I have to say I am shocked by the root system of the poison oak. We just bought the house in April and I suspect at somepoint area of the backyard were overfun with poison oak, some of the root I pulled out were 7 feet long, even though they only had a 10" by 10" above ground patch.

My new concern is thoroughly cleaning the shovel handle (which is wood) and pruners and green bin once I'm done with the whole yard. I feel that I will be very nervous about using the tools in the future, I plan to clean with denatured alcohol.

Also I sprayed my neighbors poison oak 'tree,' I would have asked had she been there, but she wasn't and I was there with the stuff so I just did it. Her yard is so overgrown with blackberries, she wouldn't even be able to reach it herself without days of clearing the brambles.

Oh and I did use the herbicide myself, wore a face mask and felt fine with it.

Wish me luck on the next 50%
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
Mum4vr, I used the lavendar oil and it worked amazingly!!! Unfortunately my husband is allergic to it and having a hard time dealing.
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