When Ivy Strikes

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The walk to the driveway - July 2006.The back yard - July 2006.The back yard - July 2006.The driveway side - July 2006.The front walk - July 2006.
The walk to the driveway - July 2006.
The walk to the driveway - July 2006.
The back yard - July 2006.
The back yard - July 2006.
The back yard - July 2006.
The back yard - July 2006.
The driveway side - July 2006.
The driveway side - July 2006.
The front walk - July 2006.
The front walk - July 2006.

Before The Change

In the year 2006, I bought a house near the river in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It is an older house, built in the 1960s.

The lady who owned this house before me had gardening as her hobby. She worked the yard every day, and the results were a thing to be admired by those drive who by the area. When she sold her house, I bought it, not really knowing what I was in for, but with all intent of at least trying to maintain it as long as I could.

When you do not know what you are in for, all the good intent in the world does not help. I went around the house, took pictures of all the individual plants, wrote notes on what they were and how to care for them, and did my best to find out what all I needed to do to maintain the yard as it was.

Why Change?

Unfortunately, it turned out to also be a place where poison ivy grows. Although I had never been sensitive to ivy before, I found that the sensitivity became worse over time and with more exposure. This rashes became worse with each exposure. Year by year the cases got worse, with the rash of 2011 developing into open oozing sores that eventually turned into scar tissue. I could not keep either the ivy or the rash under control.

Gradually I turned to others to help take care of the the yard, and only went out occasionally to take care of the things I thought I could take care of without catching the itch. As the ivy grew worse, so did the original look of the yard.

One week in August 2011 I worked in the yard, trimming back a few bushes, and removing some morning glory. When I went into work a week later, the ivy rash had begun, and had turned into deep welts on my neck and ears, and was beginning to spread to my face. When the bosses at work saw it (I was far uglier than normal), they said: “Jim, go home. Go see the Doctor. Come back when it’s gone.” My coworkers were afraid I would spread it to them.

It is not a good thing when a hobby leads to doctor bills and time lost from work. You lose twice over, failing to work the time you expected to work, and having a bill on top of it. So, in early September 2011, removal of the beautiful yard began. It had gradually grown worse over the years as I tried to find and eliminate the plants that did not want me working in the yard. It was time to eradicate the poison ivy and many of the plants it liked to hide in. It was sad.

Time for Change

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September 2011

First Step - Remove a lot of plants.

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First StepFirst StepFirst StepFirst StepFirst StepFirst Step
First Step
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First Step

The plan for change is a two stage plan.

During the first stage, a LOT of the plants were removed, and the areas were treated. Bushes in front of and to the side of the porch were removed. many plants in the back yard were removed. This was part of what needed to be done to get ready for the second step. Results are shown below.

Work was done by Erik, Fred, Green, and Oliver. They are all from Affordable Landscaping of Bealeton, Virginia.

After the photos above, Craig, Fred, and Teddy did some final clean-up on removing roots around the front porch..

Second Step - New Grass

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Second Step - October 2011Second Step - October 2011Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011
Second Step - October 2011

After a few weeks the crew moved on to the second step of the transformation. In this step, Diane and Fred and Green came out to put down sod to rework the yard side of the driveway. This added more grass area under the dogwood, turned the small area in front of the porch into a grass area, and changed the mulch area that was under the kitchen window into a grass area. This also involved resetting the stones in front of the porch that are the walkway to the driveway. Two trees were removed from the backyard part of the driveway between the first two visits.

Black Helicopter Checks the Garden

We have all heard of black helicopters. This one appears to be a fly-by-gardener, checking out the latest changes around the house. Or - it could be they were thinking about fishing out here on the river.

April 13, 2015

Photo of Opportunity.  They really do exist.
Photo of Opportunity. They really do exist. | Source

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Comments 13 comments

FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Derdriu,

Thanks for the read. I've added Scotts to the lawn care regimen. The yard is easier to take care of, but, it is still too much, so I'll slowly be cutting back on the mulch beds and other places where weeds like to take over.


Derdriu 4 years ago

FitnezzJim, What a compelling, comprehensive, creative summary of the steps to freedom from poison ivy! Unfortunately, repeated exposure does not develop immunity or lessen the severity of the attack. Unfortunately, poison ivy does really, really well in disturbed areas and what area is free from ground being disturbed by the regular upkeep of house and yard?

It's good to hear that you survived the attacks to your head since the face and parts of the body over the respiratory system can constitute a medical emergency.

Most weeds will be done in by repeated treatments of radical pruning, glysophate and controlled burning...but not poison ivy.

Thank you for sharing, and congratulations on your poison ivy-free surroundings.

Voted up + all.

Respectfully, Derdriu


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 4 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Thank you Vinaya. I tried but I'm fairly well convinced now that I am not a gardener.

Caltex, thank you for reading, and comenting, and voting.


caltex profile image

caltex 4 years ago

FitnezzJim, I hate to admit I would not recognize an ivy when I see one. I've heard how unpleasant it is to get poison ivy. Your hub reminded me to look it up and be more careful handling plants in the yard.

Voted up and all!


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

I'm also a gardener. (Well I make my living out of gardening so you can call me a gardener who is also writes). I enjoyed your story very much. The pictures are nice (I'm also an aspiring photographer.


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Good Question Credence,

I noticed there were certain parts of the yard where my skin began to feel itchy as I walked around the yard with two of the landscapers to talk about what all needed to be removed and where. I thought it was something like the power of suggestion effect, until the landscapers mentioned that they were noting it also. That sensitivity and amount of growth became the criteria in deciding which sections needed to be cleared out and which would stay. Later, when the landscpapers had finished the removal, one (a third employee) pointed out areas where they had found poison sumac, which carries the same chemical irritant found in poison ivy and poison oak.

While the skin did not flare just by being close, it was sensitive. Of course, it could also have been an 'in the sun too long' effect, or 'all in our heads', or something else entirely, since what we noted was not a full up controlled scientific test. Neverthless, I don't intend to spend too much time in places that make me itch.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 5 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Hi, FJ, sorry to hear you had to defoliage. I don't know much about Poison ivy, do you think that allergic reaction flares up even when you do not touch it? Cred2


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Bluiiidgirl, the plan is to replace most of that with sod, grass, or mulch. Low maintenance stuff that makes it easier to see and discourages the ivy, if such a thing is possible.

Thanks Dexter, I too am now looking forward. But I don't think it will ever look better than it originally was, just different.


Dexter Yarbrough profile image

Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

Hi FitnezzJim! I know you hated to get rid of the plants but I am sure it was the best for you. I'm looking forward to the second set of pictures!


bluiiidgirl36 5 years ago

Wow. That's a huge difference. Will you rebuild?


breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 5 years ago

Nice solution to the problem.


FitnezzJim profile image

FitnezzJim 5 years ago from Fredericksburg, Virginia Author

Thank you Deborah-Diane.

I plan to take one more set of pictures after the last part of the work is done late September or early October.


Deborah-Diane profile image

Deborah-Diane 5 years ago from Orange County, California

Good job resolving your problem with the poison ivy. I'm very allergic to it myself. Let us know how it all turns out. You've suffered a lot for your yard.

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