April 07, 2016

Beware the Poison!!

There is an area to the side of our house that is a little strip of trees.  It's the place at the bottom of a slope and an area we think will be perfect to put our first bee hive next year.  The slope is hard to mow so where the grass is I think I'll eventually over seed with wildflowers, clover and pollinator happy plants so there will be minimal need to mow....plus who wants to mow close to a bee hive?

Right now the area is coming back alive from the winter.  There is an old wire fence tangled in the trees and many, many pots and other such trash.  It's such an eyesore.  In addition to that the underbrush is full of poison ivy.  I can avoid that in the woods but on my property I prefer not to have that where I will be frequenting and where silly dogs may decide to roll.

Poison ivy

The entire floor area is covered in little tufts of poison ivy mixed with Virginia Creeper and some greenbrier.

Field of poison!

Poison ivy takes on a shrub, bush or vine form and I'm pretty such this bush thing is one of it's evil faces.  It's all interwoven with thorny greenbrier and tangles of Virginia Creeper vines. Poison ivy is the only one of these three that will give you a bad rash but the other stuff just covers trees and shrubs in a big tangle of yuck.

Evil bush?
 There is a poor dog wood bogged down by the greenbrier.  I love dogwood and Steve and I are working on trying to get it freed.  We need to treat the poison ivy first so we can be safe to pull all this stuff out and clear up the area.

Strangled Dogwood
You can see on the other side it's even worse, it's just a big tangle.  I'd love to be able to clear it out and ride a horse through here plus other neighbors use this as a pathway if they are heading to our other neighbors our out to the Hill Forest trail further on.

It's all just a tangle of messy plants.  Poison ivy, thorny greenbrier, and even Japanese honeysuckle.  

Tangles with poison ivy

Some of the honeysuckle may be saved since it isn't over grown with poison ivy.  I will need to be aware that there could be some lurking in the beds near my house since the ivy beds are very close to the house and birds love to eat the berries.

Japanese Honeysuckle
 Another not so evil plant is the Pokeberry or Pokeweed.  It's not edible and poisonous to eat for humans and horses alike but it produces berries that birds love.  I may clear out a lot of these but I'll leave some areas available for the Pokeweed to live. 


My bluebirds will like them and since we have a lovely little house given to use by a neighbor...

...and the little birdies have started to make it home, we need to make sure we still have yummies for the feathered tenants to eat. This will be a project in the next month to begin clearing this area out to make it good for having the hive.  We will also hopefully get around to planting milkweed and other pollinator plants near where the hive will be located.

 There are several pines and then Sweet Gum trees in this little strip.  I like the leaves!  In the fall their seed is a round prickly thing but I don't find it a big issue like some people I guess.

Then there are some beautiful flowers in the pasture....buttercup.  It's not something the horses eat and it's a good thing because it's poisonous to them.  I'll have to keep it well mowed to prevent more spreading before I can fully eradicate them and get the pasture thick with good forage.  All in time!


Mrs Shoes said...

So Christie, how will you get rid of all this, must you do it by hand? Is there anything you can apply to the poison ivy to neutralize the oil before you handle it, I wonder?

We had a similar tangled situation in the copse of trees nearest out house - I had no idea what was in the tangle but I finally had enough & took matters into my own hands. There was no way to use a brush cutter or mower as the mess hid very soggy, uneven ground leading to the pond.
I burned it all. It was early in the season and I had no fear of fire getting out of hand - if anything, I had to relight it over & over. The short time the flames were around the trees left a few black marks on the bases but did no real damage; in fact, the trees blossomed more profusely & leafed out extravagantly the first summer (though my Mother warned me to space out burnings by years because too much nitrogen from the ash can also be bad).
What a pretty little spot to explore afterwards! I've found loads of wild raspberries &, now that the underbrush is gone, tiny forest flowers & a person can wander through there at last.

Good timing on this post, to remind everyone to keep an eye out for noxious weeds & do what they can to eradicate them.

Christie Maszki said...

NOOO!!! Never burn poison ivy! That irritating oil can vaporize and then get into your lungs which could be lethal! Best thing is to pull it out of use herbicide...or both. Don't chip it either since that can also aerosolize the oil. What I plant to do is I've sprayed it to kill what I can. Then we'll suit up and remove all we can. Large vines we can't remove we'll cut and then treat just the freshly cut vine tip with the herbicide to kill it. It will surely be a process. Hopefully only one big long day of removing with subsequent days of removal. We'll bag and dispose of all the poison ivy and try to separate good wood that we can chip.

Mrs Shoes said...

Oh, I didn't mean to imply that I burned poison ivy (never seen any here), just old overgrown brush & years worth of dead long grasses all tangled with branches & fallen trees & crap, & also part of a hayfields that was left unmowed & ended up a tangle shot through with a thousand willows.
But if I do find poison ivy, now at least I know burning it would be bad!