LANDSCAPE TUNE UPS & POISON IVY:May 31, 2018
Many landscapes can and do get out of hand. This can be an overwhelming nag to property owners who at a certain point think the only remedy is to rip everything out and start anew at great expense. WAIT, there’s hope!
Often time renovation can start by doing moderate to severe pruning to the existing landscape’s trees and shrubs. This first phase can give a better idea of what needs doing next, such as:
- Analyzing what trees and shrubs have got to go. Some plants get better and attain more character with age, others do not. If something has outgrown its peak payback to the landscape or as we have touched on in a previous article, it has simply outgrown its space due to overcrowding or poor initial placement, cut it down, grind the stump and let it go to the compost pile.
- Analyze your bed’s weed population. If it is not overwhelming, hand weed it. If it is bad, it should be sprayed with a nonselective weed killer. Just be careful not to spray your desirable plants with such sprays. I want to make a special note in this weed section that I can’t emphasize enough, watch out for POISON IVY. I can’t tell you how many jobs we’ve gotten because of a client’s desire to tackle a job was sidelined by them getting poison ivy rash in a bad way. We’ve seen eyes swollen shut and total rash.
Poison ivy is everywhere. The main way is proliferates is through its berries being eaten by birds, who then conveniently deposit organically fertilized poison ivy seeds after digestion anywhere and everywhere. Massive amounts of it grow along fence lines, power lines, and under trees as these are favorite landing/relief areas for birds.
Three key phrases to remember regarding poison ivy.
- Leaflets three, leave it be. Three pointed leaflets per bud.
- Fruit white, take fright. The berries actually start out green but whiten as they mature/ripen.
- Hairy rope, don’t be a dope.
If a poison ivy plant goes unchecked for a few years its main vine will begin to look like a hairy vine. We’ve seen ¼ inch to 3 inch thick hairy rope vines going up trees and walls. Matter of fact, I was first told that hairy rope phrase in the 80’s and paid no mind to it. Then we had cut down a large cherry tree in the winter and wrestled the trunk sections on the trucks. I soon got a heavy dose of poison ivy on the face and neck, thinking, “Where on earth did this come from?” Then I remembered the grand hairy vines on those trunks and never forgot.
Yes, even in winter the plant carries the rash causing urushiol oil. The key to minimize or eliminate poison ivy is the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”.
If you think it’s present, go in with long pants and sleeves, wear gloves and don’t touch your face. When done your work, rinse your shoe wear, launder tainted clothes separately, and wash your exposed areas with soap and water. Lastly, for me personally, the urge to itch occurs after two evenings. If you can resist scratching, the rash won’t open. That is key.
- Install new plants if needed/desired.
- Apply preemergent weed control and mulch.
- Reposition your lounge chair, admire the new look of your old landscape at a fraction of the cost in a poison ivy free state.