2,4-D is not the most effective herbicide for killing poison ivy. The best herbicides for killing poison ivy without harming grass are Dicamba and Triclopyr. If you want to kill poison ivy but protect lawn grass, use a herbicide that contains Dicamba mixed with 2,4-D, such as Ortho WeedClear, or a Triclopyr-based product designed to kill ivy and brush.
2,4-D is an ingredient in many products designed to destroy poison ivy, but it has limited effect on its own. It performs better when combined with other herbicides.
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How to Identify Poison Ivy
Poison ivy is characterized by its three-leaf structure. If you see a low-growing or creeping plant with leaves growing in groups of three, be wary. Poison ivy can appear in a number of different variants. It may have smooth-edged leaves, serrated leaves, or oak-like leaves. If you are unsure whether or not a plant is poison ivy, avoid contact with it.
Poison ivy causes an allergic skin reaction when handled. This manifests as redness, itching, raised bumps, and/or blisters. If you exhibit any of these symptoms after touching a three-leafed plant, it may be poison ivy. If you are experiencing an extreme allergic reaction to poison ivy, including difficulty breathing, contact poison control immediately.
What Kills Poison Ivy Permanently?
Poison ivy can be killed through a number of different methods. These range from herbicides that can be sprayed in yards to kill poison ivy without killing grass, to herbicides that kill any plant they are applied to (including poison ivy), to organic lawn cultivation methods.
- Selective herbicide containing Dicamba or Triclopyr.
- Non-Selective herbicide containing glyphosate.
- Organic methods, such as mowing and uprooting poison ivy plants.
It is not essential to use a herbicide containing 2,4-D to kill poison ivy. A 2015 study showed that 2,4-D alone does not efficiently destroy poison ivy plants. Dicamba-based herbicides performed much better. To get rid of poison ivy fast, apply these findings to your own poison ivy control methods.
Selective Herbicides for Poison Ivy Control
Selective herbicides attack broadleaf plants (weeds, vines, ivy, trees, etc.) but leave most grasses unharmed. The best selective herbicides for killing poison ivy contain either Dicamba or Triclopyr. The best solutions for killing poison ivy in your yard are:
- Weed spray with Dicamba and 2,4-D, such as Ortho WeedClear
- Weed spray with Triclopyr, like Ortho Max Poison Ivy & Tough Brush Killer
These weed sprays may also contain 2,4-D as an additional ingredient but are more effective than using 2,4-D alone. Read the active ingredients carefully when choosing your poison ivy killer.
Non-Selective Herbicides for Poison Ivy Control
Non-selective herbicides attack every plant they touch, including grass. If you are spraying for poison ivy on your lawn, you will probably want to opt for a selective herbicide, so you can kill poison ivy without killing grass. If you don’t have to worry about protecting a lawn, a non-selective herbicide may be the right choice.
Most non-selective herbicides for poison ivy are glyphosate-based. One of the best on the market is Roundup Poison Ivy Plus Tough Brush Killer. It is formulated to attack brush and vine-like plants (including poison ivy) that can be a lot more resilient than other weeds.
What is the Best Time to Spray Poison Ivy?
There is a right and a wrong time to spray poison ivy with herbicide. If you spray at the wrong time, you may not kill the ivy. This is a waste of your time and money. In order to wipe out the poison ivy in as few applications as possible, follow this timetable for your herbicide applications:
- 2,4-D and Dicamba: Spray in spring through early summer.
- Triclopyr: Spray throughout growing season (after leaves expand in spring until they begin to change color in fall).
- Glyphosate: Spray in early summer.
Never spray poison ivy in fall or winter, when it is not actively growing. Your weed killer application will not be successful. Time your application according to the active ingredients in the herbicide of your choice. You will see better results and destroy poison ivy more quickly.
Organic Poison Ivy Control
If you prefer not to use chemical methods to control poison ivy, there are ways to kill invasive plants without using herbicides. If you have poison ivy on your lawn, mowing over it regularly during the growing season will eventually kill it. Also, digging out poison ivy roots, as you would with other weeds, is effective.
- Repeat mowing.
- Remove by hand (dig out root).
- Do not burn poison ivy.
Whether poison ivy has been uprooted or is still growing, never burn it. Burning poison ivy releases poisonous smoke. Toxins from the plant can enter your lungs if the smoke is inhaled. This can cause serious lung inflammation and difficulty breathing. Take caution and wear protective clothing when removing poison ivy by hand and disposing of it.
Is 2,4-D Effective Against Poison Ivy?
Dicamba and Triclopyr are more effective at killing poison ivy than 2,4-D, and both are lawn-safe. Search for herbicidal products that contain one or both of these ingredients. 2,4-D does have some success against poison ivy but is more effective when blended with Dicamba and/or Triclopyr. These 3 herbicides are commonly mixed together in commercial weed killer sprays.
Alternatively, if you don’t have to worry about protecting the grass, you can use a glyphosate-based poison ivy killer. It is also possible to kill poison ivy organically, through repeat mowing or hand-pulling plants.
If you are spraying your poison ivy with a weed killer, make sure to spray poison ivy only when it is actively growing. This makes spring and summer the best times to attack poison ivy. Avoid spraying during fall or winter, when dormant poison ivy is less likely to be harmed by the weed killer.