Controlling Poison Ivy & Thickening A Wax Leaf Privet Hedge

Question:

 This past spring, I pulled out some old bushes covered in Poison Ivy. I thought I had gotten it all out before replanting. However, now I see new poison ivy sprouts coming up by the droves. What can I use to kill the Poison Ivy but not my holly and other plants?

Answer:

  • Poison Ivy is not found in California, Alaska, or Hawaii but is in every other state. Instead, we have Poison Oak.
    • In Hawaii, surprisingly, the skin of the mango tree produces the same rash-causing allergen as Poison Ivy. Poison Oak looks very similar to Poison Ivy with just a few subtle differences;
  • Poison Oak leaves are shaped like the leaves of an oak tree. It grows in both sunlight and shade. It has a shrub-like habit of growing in the sun location. However, in the shady, it has like a vine habit. The colors of the leaves vary throughout the year ranging from dull green to brilliant green to red in the fall.
  • There isn't an organic herbicide that controls this problem, so you'll need to use something more potent. Bayer Advanced Brush Killer is my preference; however, Round Up or similar products can be used. You'll need to spot treat the shoots to avoid damaging the desirable plants.
  • You'll need latex and cotton gloves. The latex gloves protect your hands while you dip the cotton glove hand in a bucket of water and the Brush Killer killer concentrate solution. You then stroke each plant with the gloved hand. You only apply the herbicide to the offending shoots.
    • In open areas, you can apply Brush Killer with the applicator that is included with the 'Ready to Use' product. Your biggest precaution is to avoid spraying on windy days and having the drift reach the desirable plants. You reapply as necessary.

NOTE: It’s recommended that you use the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when using any chemical. Gloves, mask, goggles, closed shoes, and a protective suit.  However, in the home garden a long shave shirt, long pant and soaks is suitable for protective suit.

Question:

We recently moved into a townhouse and inherited a hedge of very leggy Wax Leaf. We cut out the dead branches but are now left with gaping holes. If we cut off two feet off the top, will that force the middle and bottom sections to grow? 

Answer:

  •  Pruning off the top of the Wax Leaf Privet will force the lateral growth.
  • After the initial pruning, it will look somewhat unattractive, but it will recover. The new growth develops rapidly from the top, so it will be necessary to shear it back. You will have to repeat the shearing every three months for several growing seasons to the thicken hedge. If the hedge is shady or low-light, you should taper the sides so it's wider at the bottom and narrower at the top, a trapezoid. This allows the sunlight to reach the bottom of the hedge.
  • Another option is to plant several new plants in between the existing ones. This will accelerate the growth process from the bottom of the hedge. To encourage the new growth, fertilize after each pruning with an all-purpose fertilizer, remember to water the day before or at least four hours before fertilizing and immediately afterward.