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Get aggressive with backyard poison oak

I recently discovered five or six poison oak volunteers cropping up in my backyard. I've been here for 20 years and have never seen anything like that in my yard before. Can you tell me what I should do to prevent my dog from exposing my family to an itchy end to summer?

— Abe J., Medford

Just thinking about your yard causes us to start scratching our extremities here at Since You Asked World Botany Headquarters.

We contacted Phil VanBuskirk, of Oregon State University's Southern Oregon Experiment Station, who admits if someone comes in contact with poison oak and then visits his office, he is apt to get a rash.

VanBuskirk suggests you carefully and aggressively go after the unwanted vegetation.

"I would certainly try to cut it out and cut it down — dispose of it. Keep at it and eventually it will go away," he says.

Roundup and other weed-control chemicals might be effective, VanBuskirk said, "but you certainly wouldn't want to apply it to your lawn."

He suggests using a shovel to cut off the plant whenever it surfaces. Use a pair of gloves you don't use for any other task.

We might suggest giving your dog a bath with Tecnu, often used by hikers and people who work in the woods or fields where poison oak grows.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.