7 On Your Side: Poisonous plants - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Poisonous plants

A weekend spent working in your yard can quickly turn into an itchy nightmare, if you don't handle poisonous plants properly.

Angie Hicks with Angie's List gives the following tips for identifying and removing poison ivy, sumac and oak: poison ivy grows in all areas of the continental U.S., while poison oak is more common in the West and the South. Posion sumac tends to grow in swampy areas in the Southeast.

"Poison oak and poison ivy look fairly similar, but poison sumac has much more leaflets," said horticulturist Emily Wood.

Birds often feed on the berries of these plants, so look for them where birds gather.

Homeowner Shirley Branham says she loves tending her garden but can't seem to escape the wrath of poison ivy.

"I usually just noticed one or two little dots, which eventually, unfortunately, then spread all the way up my arm or on my legs," said Branham.

Hicks says that some lawn care companies specialize in the removal of these plants, so check your local listings.

"During the hiring process, be sure to cover how the company is going to tackle the problem," said Hicks. "Are they going to use chemicals to remove the plants? Are they going to dig the plants up? How long do they guarantee their work? Will they come back if the plant reappears?"

You may be able to tackle smaller plants on your own, but always wear protective clothing as a precaution.

"Most of the time, it's probably best to put it (the plants) in a plastic bag and throw it away," said Wood. "Keep in mind that anything that touches it will carry the oil and you can get contact dermatitis from the oil."

This also means avoiding using a weed eater or lawn mower to get rid of the plants, as it will distribute the plants' oils. Remember that the oil -- known as urushiol -- can stay on clothing and garden tools for up to five years.

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