Eco-Answers from the Pros: Poison Ivy and Bindweed

I have never used chemicals on my property and do not want to start. Poison ivy, which I am HIGHLY allergic to, is showing up in more and more places on my property – my herb garden included!

Also, a very invasive strangling type of morning glory with pink flowers covers my one front garden area like a blanket AND it grows up my foundation under the shingles.

I had “Goats du Jour” come to take a look, but they felt fencing the area to keep the goats safe would be a problem.

What can I do?? 

You can successfully hand pull PI. You just have to be very careful to wear gloves and cover all bare skin to the extent possible. Wear a Tyvek suit (available in paint departments like Home Depot). Make sure that the gloves are very long and come up the arms so that there is no exposed skin between the Tyvek suit and the top of the gloves while you are pulling. Immediately after pulling, wash thoroughly with Technu or another oil stripping product. If you are very allergic to poison ivy, then you should not probably not pull it yourself. If you are set against using herbicide, you might hire someone to pull it for you – and they should take the precautions noted.

Another option might be Halo from ICT Organics Green. It is a post-emergent herbicide utilizing condensed corn as an active ingredient. Unfortunately, none of our ELA Board members have personal experience with the product.

Goats are effective for poison ivy control, and are fun to watch. There are other brush-clearing goat companies in the Boston area. You could check with The Goatscaping Company or email Elaine at gogreengoat@gmail.com

That morning glory imitator is bindweed, which has been a serious problem the last few years. The plant has a rubber band-like root and is really difficult to pull. If you keep at the bindweed by manually pulling, you might be able to get it under control. It will take several years to fully eradicate. This weed has been a real problem in restoration areas. Once plants are established, new plantings can hold their own against the bindweed, but it will smother newly planted areas unless you are diligent with pulling. Our ELA Board members have had to treat it with glyphosate (RoundUp®) when they don’t have the man power or budget it takes to control it with just hand pulling. Selective treatment, along with some hand pulling, has been somewhat effective for them.

Good luck with your efforts to eradicate these troublesome plants.

Penny Lewis, ELA Executive Director

ELA members have spent hundreds of hours learning the best ecological solutions to problems in the landscape. You can benefit from all that accumulated knowledge by posing a question to our experts. If you are stumped by a problem in your landscape or are looking for a second opinion on a potential solution, ask ELA’s Eco-Pros. Send your question to ela_new@verizon.net. And if you need additional help, refer to the listing of ELA Professionals.