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Angie’s List: Removing Poisonous Plants


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(WGGB) — A weekend spent working in the yard can turn into an itchy, uncomfortable nightmare, if you don’t steer clear of poisonous plants, like poison ivy, oak or sumac.

“I usually just noticed one or two little dots which eventually unfortunately then spread all the way up my arm or on my legs,” says Shirley Branham, a gardener.

It’s one of the peskiest parts of gardening. But poison ivy, oak and sumac rashes can be avoided, if you know what you’re looking for.

“Poison oak and poison ivy look fairly similar, but poison sumac has much more leaflets, more leaves on the leaflet,” says Emily Wood, a horticulturist.

Birds often feed on the berries of these plants and consequently spread the seeds, so look for the plants in areas where birds hang out — like under trees or near fences.

Unfortunately, Angie says many lawn care companies won’t go near them, but there are some companies that specialize in removal.

“During the hiring process, be sure to cover how the company is going to tackle the problem,” says Angie Hicks of Angie’s List. “Are they going to use chemicals to remove the plants? Are they going to dig the plants up? How long do they guarantee their work? Will they come back if the plant reappears?”

You can also remove smaller plants on your own, just be sure to wear protective clothing.

“Most of the time, it’s probably best to put it in a plastic bag and throw it away, but keep in mind, that anything that touches it will carry the oil and you can get the contact dermatitis from the oil,” says Wood.

The oil from these plants can stay on clothing and garden tools for up to five years. Angie also reminds homeowners not to burn these plants, or use a lawn mower or weed eater to try to get rid of them, because it will only spread the oil.


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