Do you love gardening but end up with the sniffles every time you attempt to adorn your yard with flowers? If you’re allergic to pollen, dust, and many other things found outside, it may prove challenging to keep up with this particular hobby.
Still, you don’t have to resort to decorating your yard with just concrete and stones. If you have allergies or asthma but still want a green landscape to enjoy your afternoons in, there are ways to prevent allergic reactions while still enjoying this healthy pastime.
In this article, you will learn eight allergy prevention tips you can try to make the most of the great outdoors without suffering from allergic reactions.
1. Choose your plants wisely
Believe it or not, you can transform your garden into an allergy-free haven by picking the right kinds of plants.
A lot of plants reproduce by releasing billions of pollen grains into the wind. This occurs most during fall, spring, and summer. And that’s not limited to flowering plants, either. Even trees, bushes, and grasses need pollination to reproduce, and that means there would be a lot of allergy triggers in your garden.
Of course, that will depend on the kinds of plants you have. Some plants only use insects, birds, and other flying creatures to pollinate because they have heavier pollen grains that cannot be carried by the wind as easily.
On top of that, some female plants don’t shed pollen. They also trap most of the pollen released by male plants, making them excellent additions to your allergy-free garden.
Below are some examples of allergy-friendly plants you can try:
- Grasses: Male-sterile hybrid Bermuda grasses, female cultivars of buffalo grass, like UC Verde and Legacy, and St. Augustine.
- Flowers: Begonia, bird of paradise, cactus, chenille, daffodil, dahlia (formal-double), dusty miller, geranium, impatiens, iris, orchid, pansy, periwinkle, petunia, rose (unscented, tea-type), snapdragon, tulip, and zinnia.
- Shrubs: Azalea, pruned Boxwood, female English yew, female pittosporum, female wax myrtle, hibiscus, hydrangea, and viburnum.
- Trees: Apple, crab apple, pie cherry, Chinese fan palm, female English holly, female fern pine, female red maple dogwood, hardy rubber tree, magnolia, pear, and plum.
Besides choosing among this list, you should also take note of the ones you need to avoid. Some trees, including olive, birch, and mountain cedar tend to have powerful pollen spread. They release even more pollen during an extended dry spell.
Consider asking plant experts in your locality to be sure which flowers, shrubs, and trees you need to avoid.
2. Schedule your gardening tasks based on forecasts
Even if your garden is allergen-free, it may still be possible for you to experience allergic reactions if you go out on a day when the air quality is poor. The pollen count in your area can also reach your property and cause you to sneeze even if all your plants are female varieties or insect-pollinated.
Thus, you must make a habit of monitoring the air quality and pollen count forecast in your area. Avoid going out when the pollen count is expected to be high.
The pollen count is usually at its peak during dry and windy days. Cool and wet weather can keep pollen counts lower, but it would be best to avoid going out altogether if shrubs and trees are shedding leaves, in bloom, or only starting to grow.
3. Dress for the occasion
As much as you try to avoid going out on a windy day, there will be times when you will be forced to do so, regardless if it’s to tend to your garden or not. If this is the case, you must dress to protect yourself.
Consider wearing light clothes that cover every inch of skin possible. This includes long-sleeved tops and pants. Pair them with sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat to shield against flying pollen. Pollen- and dust-proof face masks and gloves can also offer added protection from irritants that may come your way.
4. Deal with the grass
The grass surrounding your garden must be kept short to inhibit seed production. Keep it around 2 inches high to prevent any pollen from catching onto the wind.
You can also water it down before you begin gardening or edge the landscape with stone to keep allergens away. As much as possible, ask someone else to do the mowing for you.
5. Prevent mold growth
Besides pollen, you must also be wary of mold as it is another common trigger of allergic reactions in the garden.
Since mulch tends to hold moisture, it encourages the growth of mold. This is why you must choose your mulch wisely.
Replace organic mulches composed of shredded leaves and bark with pebbles, gravel, or oyster shell. Plant ground covers such as pachysandra and vinca which are also excellent alternatives to wood chips.
Besides mulching, composting can also be bad for your allergies as decomposing materials can be a breeding ground for molds. Instead of making your own, consider buying finished compost.
Also, you need to rethink how much water you give your plants. While they do need it to grow, too much moisture can increase the risk of mold growth, which is bad for the plants and your allergies. Make sure that there is no standing water that could make the problem worse.
6. Keep allergens outside
Besides staying inside when allergens are flying around on a windy day, you should also keep them outside when you decide to get some gardening done. To do this, keep your windows shut while mowing and several hours after mowing your lawn.
After gardening, take a shower and change your clothes when you return indoors. Be sure to wash your hair thoroughly to get rid of any allergens that may have gotten trapped in the strands. If you’re sensitive to sumac, poison ivy, and the like, be sure to wash your gardening tools and equipment, too.
It would also be best to leave tools used for gardening outside. This way, any remaining irritants attached to them even after washing won’t get inside the house.
7. Rethink your hedges
Hedges are beautiful, but they’re not quite allergy-friendly since they tend to collect mold, dust, and pollen along and in between their branches. If you still want them around, make sure that they are pruned regularly and kept thin.
8. Have your medicine handy
No matter how well you think you’ve prepared, you must still keep your allergy medication within arm’s reach when gardening.
Determine the type of allergies you have and keep the appropriate medicine where you can easily access them from your garden. It is also better to begin taking your allergy medication prior to the beginning of allergy season and ask your doctor for any recommendations.
Enjoy the Great Outdoors Free of Allergies
Allergies can bring severe discomfort and may even affect your way of life. However, you mustn’t let this menace get in the way of the happiness that gardening brings you. Following the tips in this article should help you enjoy the great outdoors while staying free of allergies.