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URBAN AG Taking on the tough ones

Cut and spray to control weedy vines by Paul Pugliese

Greenbrier and poison ivy are two of the hardest weedy vines to control. Fol- lowing these tips from University of Georgia Cooperative Extension will make the chore a little easier.

Photo by Sharon Dowdy Poison ivy grows up a tree in Jackson, Ga.

Tese two weeds grow across the ground and up trees and shrubs. Poison ivy causes a severe skin reaction for many people who make contact with the oil in its leaves and stems. Tis makes it

even more difficult to control. Several species of greenbrier are native

to Georgia, but one of the more common ones has prickly thorns. Tis makes it difficult to pull out, even if wearing leather gloves.

Deep root systems Both plants have extensive underground root systems that are very difficult to dig out of the ground, much less pull out by hand. If the stem breaks away from the root system, greenbrier and poison ivy will grow back.

Know your weed Knowing your weed is oſten half the battle. Take the time to learn how to identify greenbrier and poison ivy. Keep in mind that poison ivy takes on many different forms, including a very ag- gressive, fuzzy vine that grows as thick as a man’s arm and can nearly strangle a tree as it climbs to the top.


Both weeds are cold hardy perennials, which means the roots survive even the coldest Geor- gia winters. Because these plants are difficult to

control, it is oſten necessary to use herbicides as part of the control strategy. Tey are also tough woody plants that only respond to a few herbi- cides on the market. Even using the best herbi- cide, it may take multiple applications to eventu- ally wear out the weed’s root system.

Cutting works best Te best strategy for controlling greenbrier and poison ivy is to cut them off at the source. A 50-foot long poison ivy vine that reaches the top of a tree will barely be affected by an herbicide sprayed on the leaves that are a few feet off the ground. Keep in mind that recommended herbicides would likely kill or damage the tree, too.

If you cut the vine near the base, everything from the ground up will die without roots to supply it water and nutrients. Avoid damaging the bark of the host tree and avoid getting the sap or sawdust on your skin when cutting poison ivy vines.

Cutting the vine does not kill the roots. Tis is where an herbicide becomes a very handy tool.

If greenbrier or poison ivy leaves are close to the ground, leave several inches of the vine so that you can spray the leaves. Herbicides are absorbed quicker if there are only a few leaves. Herbicides can also be sprayed or painted directly onto the freshly cut end of the vine or stump. This should be done immediately, before the sap dries out, so the herbicide can be absorbed into the vine and move down into the root system.

Be patient Te severed portion of the vine may take a few weeks to completely die and can take even longer to decompose. However, with poison ivy, don’t try to pull the vine down since the

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