CGHOA – LAWN CARE, PART II – Toxic Weeds

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I wanted to take a few minutes to go over some of the weeds that you are likely encountering in your efforts to tame your lawn, and talk about some of the options to get them under control.

First, let’s address the creeping vine that seems to be overtaking some of the bushes along Cedar Grove Way, and that is going to be in just about every yard in the neighborhood:

creeperbase

Look familiar? Do you know what it is? I’ll tell you in a minute. (But it’s probably not what you think.)  Here are a few pictures in some familiar settings:

creeper2      creeper3 creeper4      creeper5

Did you guess what it is? Before I tell you, let me share another image of a vine that is also taking over the bushes along Cedar Grove Way:

poisonIvyBase

And here are some pictures of this little beauty:

poisonivy1 poisonIvy poisonivy2 poisonivy3

Now, do you recall the old saying, “Leaves of three, leave them be?” That would be for Poison Ivy and Poison Oak.  The leaves in the images just above are Poison Ivy.  The first ones are NOT. They’re Virginia Creeper. Poison Ivy will cause serious allergic reactions for most people, while Virginia Creeper is relatively harmless. Note the word relatively. There are Calcium Oxalate crystals in Virginia Creeper that can cause sores too – it just doesn’t affect everyone as bad as the Urushiol oil in the Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac weeds. (do a Google search on Calcium Oxalate – interesting substance.)

poisonplants1

Just so you know – they’re BOTH SUPER difficult to get rid of, and when you have to worry about having to go to the hospital from exposure to Poison Ivy, well, that makes it just that much harder. Here’s the thing – it’s not just the leaves of Poison Ivy that can get you – the bare vine in the middle of the winter is just as bad. If you happen to get some in a bonfire, you could easily end up in the hospital struggling for your life.

The best thing to do about Poison Ivy is to spray it with a strong brush killer, like Roundup Poison Ivy Tough Brush Killer, and when it’s dead, (in a week or so) pull it up and dispose of it. That way, even if you leave some of the roots, they’re dead, so they won’t grow back. In any case, be careful and don’t burn it whatever you do.

Virginia Creeper is just about as hard to get rid of, and you can use the same stuff as with Poison Ivy, its just not as hazardous to work with.

The last one we’ll look at in this post is poison sumac. It doesn’t look anything like poison ivy, it doesn’t grow as a vine, it looks like a bush or a tree.

 sumac1     sumac2
sumac4      sumacred

Sumac can grow to be anywhere from 5′ to 25′. It thrives in moist, acidic areas, which we have plenty of in the neighborhood.  The best way to identify them is from the berries, which are light, white or greenish yellow, and the stem which is typically red.  This plant/shrub/tree also contains Urushiol just like poison ivy and poison oak, so be aware when you’re walking the trails. I’ve got 2 of them growing in my azalea bed, and there’s a huge one at the end of Cedar Grove Way – so be aware.

That’s it for now – next up, we’ll look at some much more benevolent weeds that could be invading your turf.