September 15, 2019

Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

Neighbors who live in my subdivision tell me that my house was one of the last houses built in the neighborhood. I suspect it was, because the lot is not the most attractive. It slopes down to bottom land and a creek a few hundred feet away. It is full of trees, some 30 of them, that are way too close together. That means they are very tall and skinny. All parts of the lot behind the house are mostly shaded by the trees and one section behind the garage is very steep. So it is almost impossible to grow anything in this area, especially the steep part.

Years ago, I decided to plant a ground cover in that area to control erosion and provide some type of cover that I did not have to mow or maintain. I selected English Ivy and it gradually covered the steep area behind the garage. What I did not know was that not only does it cover the ground but it also climbs trees. Now, it has not only completely covered the trunks of three or four of my trees, but also a couple of the neighbors’ trees. It attaches itself to the tree trunks and grows up 50 feet or so. It crowds out most other plants under the trees, except poison ivy, which I continually keep on the lookout for. Maggie likes to romp through this area and hunt for voles and other critters and occasionally gets some poison ivy oil on her whiskers that she then shares with me. You can see why I try to keep the poison ivy under control.

Many people have asked me what kind of a ground cover they can plant in areas similar to my spot behind the garage. I used to recommend English Ivy, until I found out it is a climber. Now many landscapers do not suggest it because it is so invasive. I wish I knew about that 30 years ago. Now, more people want to know how to get rid of it, rather than planting it.

I did some searching for ground covers on the Internet and found some excellent ideas at www.hgtvgardens.com where they list some 300 different ground covers that do well in shady areas. Some you might want to consider are: common periwinkle, lily of the valley, pachysandra, Algerian Ivy (variegated) or bugleweed. Check out this site where you can select based on your specific location in sun or shade and other variables. Also, I suggest you look at the U of I page at http://urbanext.illinois.edu/hort where you will find all kinds of horticultural information. You can also check with your local U of I Extension office or master gardener for help with your horticultural questions. In addition, you might even be interested in becoming a master gardener. You can find details about that program on the same web page above.

Now is the time to:

  • Read a good book
  • Start your annual diet 
  • But finish your Christmas candy first

Call of the Week:

Q: When are you supposed to mulch perennial flower beds?

A: Normally you do not need to do that until the ground freezes. You can also mulch around rose bushes at the same time.

Stuart Hawbaker can be reached at jmatherly@herald-review.com.

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Stu Hawbaker: The woes of invasive ivy

NEW BUSINESS: The Goatscaping Company

A poison ivy bed. Sumac that makes your skin bristle just thinking about it. Throw in a few rocks, some uneven terrain and a hillock, and you can just forget about that lawnmower.

Clearing this piece of land is going to take heavier artillery.

Or maybe “hoovier” artillery.

This is a job for super goats.

Elaine Philbrick and Jim Cormier don’t have to boldly go where no one has gone before; they let their goats do that.

Their herds of goats gobble up poison ivy, oak and sumac without a single blister, chow down on thorns and heavy vegetation in thickets covering rocks and rocky ledges that defy mowers. Hilly terrain and rocks are, in fact, the goats’ joy in life.

They love to climb – anything.

And they love to eat, just about anything.

Located in Plymouth and Duxbury, this goat company is drawing rave reviews and more and more customers who have discovered an alternative for taming an unwieldy parcel.

The Goatscaping Company had humble beginnings, for Jim Cormier at least, who remembered his 2011 volunteer gig at Colchester Neighborhood Farm. A Plymouth resident, Cormier lost his job with a Fall River book company and his friends, Ron and Conni Maribett, needed help on the farm they managed in Plympton. With nothing much else to do, Cormier headed over one day and filled in, cleaning up after the animals, weeding and helping with the harvest.
“I knew nothing about animals and farms,” Cormier said. “I grew up in Hyannis.So, if someone says ‘farm,’ to me, I think cranberries.”

The months went by, and Cormier found a job at Lowe’s, all the while continuing his work at the farm, which had become a joy for him. He loved the animals in particular, and jumped when Elaine Philbrick, a member of the cooperative farm, contacted him about a goat business.

Philbrick, who owned four goats, told Cormier she planned to rent them to a Cohasset business that wanted a difficult parcel of land cleared.

“Count me in,” Cormier responded.

And from that moment on, he has been up to his eyeballs in goats, contracts for goats and a whole lot of fur.

“If you told me 10 years ago that I would co-own and run a goat business, I would have said you were out of your mind,” Cormier said. “I went to school for broadcasting and film, anticipating a job as a program direction. Never in a million years did I anticipate this. It’s just a weird confluence of things.”

Spend an hour with Cormier and his herd and you might be surprised by how friendly and engaging these creatures can be. They only have bottom teeth and do not bite. But, they do love to be scratched and fussed over, and spend a lot of time playing when there’s no brush to devour.

The Goatscaping Company now has dozens upon dozens of goats happily chewing up brush and clearing inhospitable areas that have plagued landowners for years. In addition to avoiding a nasty rash or worse, customers also find this approach environmentally friendly, since it involves no chemicals and no machinery.

For more information on The Goatscaping Company, visit www.gogreengoat.comor www.facebook.com/goatscaping. To schedule a goat-clearing job, contact the company at gogreengoat@gmail.com or 617-283-4088.

Follow Emily Clark on Twitter @emilyOCM.

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NEW BUSINESS: The Goatscaping Company

Poison ivy spreading in Chesapeake neighborhood

by Joe Flanagan, 13News Now


Posted on July 12, 2013 at 5:16 PM

Friday, Jul 12 at 6:01 PM

CHESAPEAKE — Paul Pompier caught a bad case of poison ivy in his West Chester Estates neighborhood in Chesapeake.

When he began to investigate, he found it everywhere.

Horticulturalists at Norfolk Botanical Garden told us the plants thrive on green gases, and the rainy weather has contributed this year too.

“Well, there’s a spot there, and then I came on out to the road and it’s growing out along the road,” Pompier said as he walked around his neighborhood.

The poisonous plant was everywhere around his home.

“It’s actually a clump of poison ivy growing out into the road. So, if you were to drop something, pick it up or even get it on your shoes, you get that poison oil on your shoes and don’t even know it. You can transfer it to your skin,” Pompier said.

Pompier repeated a saying to help remember which plants are poison ivy:Leaves of three, let it be.”

“And so, anything that comes in contact with the poison ivy that’s on the leaves, that poison oil it can get on you. It can get on your clothes, it can get on your sports equipment, and it will stay there for a long, long time,” added Pompier.

A light went on for Pompier’s neighbor went he showed her how bad the poison ivy was near her home.

“I am not originally from this area, and I had no idea that the poison ivy was that bad,” said Phoebe Morrow.

Link – 

Poison ivy spreading in Chesapeake neighborhood

Walls: Poison ivy arrives with warmer weather

While walking in the woods the other day, a couple of observations reminded me that it is the season that people will be venturing outdoors for warm-weather activity.

Besides the many fire ant mounds that I encountered (I wrote about the scourge of fire ants a few weeks back), one plant that can cause some real discomfort was readily evident on several tree trunks and posts that I walked past. Poison ivy was heartily growing all along my route.


Poison ivy has leaflets of three leaves per segment. Thus, the saying “Leaves of three, leave it be.” On many plants, the vines have hair-like tendrils that assist in attaching the vines to the tree trunks on which they are growing.

Approximately eight out of ten people will have some sort of skin reaction to poison ivy. When coming in contact with the oil contained in all parts of the plant (roots, vines, stems, branches and leaves), a skin rash of varying degrees of severity will break out between eight hours and three days after contact with the oil. The rash can last a few days or two to three weeks depending on your body’s reaction to the oil and where on the body you come in contact with the oil.

Touching a garden implement or clothing exposed to the oil or pet hair exposed to poison ivy are additional ways to break out in a reaction. There are also reports of people breathing in the smoke of someone burning poison ivy. The lungs and poison ivy smoke are not compatible. This can be a serious situation and medical attention is always recommended. In most cases, exposure to someone with a poison ivy rash is not contagious. It is the direct exposure to the oil in the plant that causes the rash.

Although many of us do have a reaction to exposure with the oil in poison ivy, many types of wildlife readily feed on the berries that will be on the plants later on in the year. In addition to some small mammals, more than three dozen species of birds have been recorded feeding on poison ivy fruit.

On one tree, accompanying the many vines of poison ivy was a similar plant often misidentified as poison ivy. Virginia creeper was mixed in with the ivy. “Leaves of five, let it thrive” is the saying that applies to Virginia creeper. There are reports of some poison ivy plants having leaflets of five, but I have not yet found this. It is advisable to learn the difference in the two types of plants. The best bet, however, is to avoid any climbing vine if you are not sure. Better to be safe than sorry.

Don’t be afraid to venture out this spring or summer. Our great outdoors hold wonderful experiences for all of us. Just take a bit of time to educate yourself about the plants and animals that are our wild neighbors. In most cases, they were here long before we arrived in the neighborhood.

Enjoy your nature trails.

For questions or comments, email jwalls443@gmail.com.

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Walls: Poison ivy arrives with warmer weather

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