Why do we have garden bullies like Bittersweet, Japanese Knotweed (alias Japanese Bamboo) and Poison Ivy? Sometimes one must level the playing field to give your choice, delicate plants a fighting chance. These resilient big boys, if left unattended can infiltrate your entire garden.
To effectively eradicate these nasty weeds, you have to unfortunately use a non-selective herbicide like Roundup (it kills everything). Read the label carefully as you should with any chemical. Successful sprays are a matter of proper timing and weather.
Now is the optimum time of the year to eradicate these toughies. Hitting them in their most vulnerable state, right when they are setting seed is critical to eradication. Check your property to see if any of these plants are setting seed.
Wait for a calm, sunny day (there are a few coming up in the forecast) and get out your rubber gloves. Spray the plant thoroughly. Make sure you don’t hit any of your choice plants; hence one of the reasons you do not spray on a windy day. Let the plant wilt and brown up for 48 hours. Wait approximately a week and cut it back. If you see it sprouting again, (depending on growing weather) you can apply a second application. This should weaken the plant’s root system, giving it a lower survival rate during the winter months.
I am not a big advocate of using chemicals but with these particular plants, the root systems are very extensive and resilient. If you don’t kill all of the plant parts below ground, it continues to proliferate in the yard.
For those of you that do tangle with the poison ivy, (inevitable) pick up a product called Tecnu when you are purchasing your herbicide. It is a good precaution to douse yourself with Tecnu or a liquid laundry detergent immediately after exposure to poison ivy to remove any of its oils on your skin.
The inspirational gardening thought of the day is from Dianne Benson, Dirt, 1994. “They know, they just know where to grow, how to dupe you, and how to camouflage themselves among the perfectly respectable plants, they just know, and therefore, I've concluded weeds must have brains.”
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