garden diy

death to the ivy. homemade weed killer.

There is a constant battle going on in yards across the lands. The enemy: poison ivy. Poison ivy is that annoying vine that has proved to pack way more punch than what meets the eye. We are so lucky to have it growing in every yard we’ve had (said no one ever).  Thus, we were back on the hunt for a good homemade weed killer to knock the poison ivy back.

Ryan is forever pointing out all the ‘hazardous’ ivy infested spots around the house. He is so sweet to try to help me avoid the incredibly itchy rash, but it isn’t me who gets it. It’s always him. I can’t think of a year he hasn’t had been tormented with its wrath. At least now, we have learned and experienced the relief and healing comfrey has to offer!


Poison ivy is growing everywhere. We’ve got the stuff growing around the fence in the backyard, beside the driveway, up trees and electric poles, and surrounding our ‘welcome’ tiki man. (He came with the house, and we love him).


After finding a few decent recipes, like this one here, we were ready to try a version for ourselves. Some of the differences between the mixes and what we had used in the past were the ratio of salt to vinegar and the addition of dish soap. To create something a little stronger, we opted for a mix higher in salt and using soap. The soap helps the spray stick to leaves better. Something to note, when using a salty mix, be mindful that it doesn’t drip into the soil. It can kill all life below if enough drips.

This potent weed killer was really easy to make, so within minutes we were outside taking on the world poison ivy.

Here is what we mixed:

  • ½ cup salt
  • 3 cups vinegar
  • 1 tbsp dish soap

We mixed it all together in a separate container, then poured into a spray bottle . We used an old empty cleaning bottle the first time, but have since picked up a 32oz spray bottle that preforms a little better.


Spray the leaves until they are coated but not dripping.


We sprayed the areas around the driveway and our welcome man first. These areas are closest to the house in more commonly used areas where we may accidentally come in contact. After about a week, we noticed that the leaves were burnt out, but the plant was still fairly healthy.


Feeling a bit deflated, we treated the poison ivy again, but after another week we were still in the midst of the battle. It was effective, just not ground breaking. In the end, Ryan suited up (I can’t say that without thinking of Barney from How I Met Your Mother), and ripped the ivy out where he could. Physically removing it is super risky, but usually does the trick in the end.

Poison ivy is extremely tough, which is why you see those crazy intense weed killers specifically made for it. While the DIY homemade weed killer was knocking the vines back, it seemed better suited for lighter duty action. We had success using it on the less resilient weeds and smaller poison ivy, but felt it was proving to be a losing battle with the amount of  ivy lurking around here.

You will be more pleased with the results on those smaller yet pesky and annoying weeds that spring from the cracks of concrete and edges of landscaping. Just be mindful of where you spray. It will kill or severely injure whatever it covers, so be cautious around those veggies and pretty flowers.

Speaking of such things, I think it’s about time I get back to the garden. It’s Memorial Day weekend and we have a number of projects calling our names. Or is that Ryan calling me, shovel in hand ready to double dig? Either way, I better get up and get at it.

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  • Reply
    Nathan Frazee
    June 19, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Another option is to take a torch and hit most of the leaves. Be sure to not be standing over it so the fumes aren’t lofting up onto you. It might work more effective than the spray treatment but still not as aggressive as ripping it out.

    • Reply
      August 19, 2016 at 8:21 am

      Do not ever burn Poison ivy, the smoke will carry the oil and if you breath it in you will be very sick and it will eventually get into you bloodstream

    • Reply
      Justine Light
      June 30, 2018 at 8:58 am

      It gets into your lungs!!!

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