How to Remove Poison Ivy For Good | Ep. 89

Poison ivy, seen close up
There are many ways to remove poison ivy — not all work every time, so try a process of elimination. (DepositPhotos)

Climbing plants add character and interest to a plain arbor, pergola or trellis. But one thing you don’t want hanging around is poison ivy.

Spotting it is easy, thanks to definitive leaves with three leaflets, not to mention the itchy, painful rash that follows after you touch it.  

This plant has a bad reputation, no doubt, and it’s understandable why people often ask questions like, “How do you kill poison ivy? What helps with poison ivy?”

Homeowners like Susan in New Hampshire want this stuff gone — it’s that simple. But they’re just not sure how to go about removing this pest of a plant from their yard.

In this episode of the Today’s Homeowner Podcast, Joe Truini comes to the rescue, with five methods that Susan can try to remove poison ivy.

Poison ivy, seen climbing against a house
Climbing plants may look nice near your home — just make sure they’re not poison ivy. (DepositPhotos)

Here are his tips:

Pull it out. The surefire way to get rid of poison ivy is to pull it by hand. First, you’ll need to cover yourself from head to toe (and wash the clothes and gloves you’re wearing immediately after treating the area).

• Smother it. Use cardboard or black plastic to prevent poison ivy from receiving essential nutrients and otherwise thriving.

• Pour boiling water on it. If you can’t smother it to death, boil it to death! Of course, this option is ideal for small yards, not big ones that would require a lot of boiling water.

• Spray it to death. Mix one cup of salt and one tablespoon of liquid dish soap into one gallon of water and spray it on the plant.

• Go with chemicals. While some homeowners prefer to avoid harsh chemicals, Ortho GroundClear Vegetation Killer Concentrate is formulated to kill poison ivy.

Finally, while this one’s not practical for most homeowners, get a couple of goats! They love poison ivy and will eat it up.

Listen to the Today’s Homeowner Podcast for more home improvement tips!

  • [1:20] Can you just paint over wallpaper?
  • [6:52] Chelsea talks about remodeling her 1959 ranch-style house, and creating a screen for her outside A/C unit.
  • [12:37] How to remove mold and mildew from vinyl porch posts
  • [19:32] The best way to get rid of poison ivy — permanently
  • [23:53] Simple Solution: 5 Tips for Planting Trees
  • [26:14] Question of the Week: “What is causing the intermittent working of the garage door opener?”

Simple Solutions

Foolproof Tree-Planting — You wouldn’t think there’d be much to know about planting a tree, right? Dig a hole, drop in the tree (branches pointing up), shovel the dirt back in, then go have a beer. What’s to know? As it turns out, there’s much more to it.

Here are five tips for planting any tree: 

1. The two most common mistakes are digging the hole too narrow and too deep. The hole must be two to three times wider than the tree’s root ball. And the depth of the hole should equal the distance from the bottom of the root ball up to the root flare, minus 2 inches. (The root flare is the point where the tree trunk spreads out to form the roots.) It’s crucial not to bury the root flare because it’ll severely stunt the tree’s growth.  

2. After digging the hole, sprinkle a handful of super-phosphate into the bottom of the hole. Super-phosphate is phosphate rock that’s been treated with acid and it’ll give the newly forming root system a healthy head start. 

3. Set the tree into the hole, then remove all twine and burlap from around the root ball. Use a small three-tine cultivator to scratch up the surface of the root ball. That’ll loosen up the compacted dirt and expose thousands of tiny roots. 

4. Next, add some super-phosphate and 3-4-3 fertilizer to the dirt removed from the hole. Use a rake to thoroughly mix up the dirt, then shovel it back into the hole. 

5. Shovel dirt around the entire root ball, but don’t stomp down the dirt; compacted soil doesn’t absorb water very well. Now, saturate the exposed dirt around the tree with a garden hose, then add 2 to 3 inches of bark mulch. Continue to water the tree every day for the next six to eight weeks. 

Quick Tip for Cleaning Tarnished Brass — Brass is prized for its durability, corrosion-resistance and beauty. But over time, brass hardware, hinges, faucets and light fixtures can become blackened with tarnish. Here’s how to restore them to shiny, new condition.

First, many solid-brass pieces are protected by a coating of lacquer. Strip off the lacquer by scrubbing the brass with a cloth soaked with acetone or lacquer remover. 

Then clean the brass piece by soaking it in hot, soapy water. Use an old toothbrush to remove any caked-on dirt. Rinse well and then dry it with a clean cloth. 

To clean away tarnish, squeeze the juice of one lemon into a small bowl. Add two teaspoons of baking soda and mix to form a thick poultice. Use a microfiber cloth to rub the cleaning solution onto the tarnished brass. Force the solution into small holes and crevices with a cotton swab. 

Wait 10 minutes, then rinse with water and dry the piece. If there’s still some residual tarnish, repeat the poultice treatment.

Once the tarnish is gone, coat the piece with mineral oil and then buff with a clean microfiber cloth. And to deter the brass from tarnishing again, repeat the oil and buffing process every six months.

Question of the Week

Q: “When pushing the remote control on my Raynor garage door opener, the light will come on the opener, but the motor intermittently comes on to move the door.

“What do you think is causing the intermittent working of the garage door opener?” 

A: Your garage door may be experiencing radio frequency interference. Security lights, ham radios and even other nearby garage door openers could trigger this.

If your remote control only works when it’s close to the motor, such as a few feet, there’s probably some radio frequency interference.

Otherwise, this garage door opener may have a failing motor, the remote control may have failing batteries, or you may need to reprogram the garage door to a different frequency.

Other Products and Links Mentioned

Ask a Question! (Podcast)

Ask a question and we could answer it on the "Today's Homeowner Podcast!" We also may use it on our nationally syndicated radio broadcast or on
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here