Tips to Prevent Garden Allergies

Tips to Prevent Garden Allergies
By Dr. Leonard Perry
Extension Professor
Do you sneeze a lot while working around plants? Does your nose get itchy and runny? If your allergies prevent you from enjoying your garden, here are 14 ideas to try to make gardening more fun during allergy season.
  • Limit gardening in the afternoon in spring, and early mornings in fall, when pollen counts tend to be highest.
  • Remain indoors during windy days, during allergic pollen times, as pollen can blow in from far away (even though it is otherwise quite local in nature, such as from a tree in your yard)
  • Once done working outdoors, wash well or shower, and wash clothes.
  • Don't hang laundry on the line during high pollen periods. (I learned this last year, hanging bed sheets on the line to dry, then wondering why I keep sneezing all night, even indoors, with the windows closed.)
  • Use an air conditioner if you have one, particularly at night, or while driving, and set on recirculate if possible.
  • Beware of, and wash, pets that might pick up pollen outdoors and share with you!
  • Cover your body with clothing, even using a cap for your hair, and wear a breathing mask, especially when mowing the lawn. Best is to have someone not allergic do the mowing!
  • Keep windows closed during, and a few hours after, mowing.
  • Begin allergy medication prior to your normal allergy season, follow directions through the season, and if severe consult a doctor or allergist.
  • Choose low allergen-producing plants when establishing a new garden, or to replace others in your landscape. Remember, in general, to avoid wind-pollinated plants, choosing insect-pollinated plants instead. Choose those with showy flowers, whether woody or herbaceous.
  • Avoid strongly scented flowers, as these may aggravate allergies.
  • Beware of molds from compost and bark mulches, possibly substituting the latter with gravel.
  • Avoid hedges that can trap dust, pollen and mold. Keep existing ones thinned.
Keep watch in your local daily broadcast and print media during the season for pollen counts, and garden when the counts are lower.

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