Tips for Gardening with Allergies
For many people, gardening is one of the biggest joys of spring. There's nothing like picking out seeds for the beautiful plants that will eventually blossom and you just can't beat the feeling of digging your hands into the raw, fresh soil for the first time each season. However, if you're one of the many people with seasonal allergies, does that mean you have to pack away the gardening tools forever?
Not so fast. Just because you experience a reaction to spring allergens during this time of year doesn't mean you can't enjoy planting and potting flowers and vegetables. Grab your gloves and follow this guide for comfortable gardening with allergies.
Know Your Allergies
Before you get started, it's important to be aware of your own allergy triggers. If pollen causes your eyes to water and throat to itch, it's best to avoid gardening when pollen counts are high. Pollen counts tend to be highest in the mornings and on mild, windy days. Gardening in the middle of the afternoon on an overcast day with no wind is best practice for avoiding pollen. You can also check local weather stations for pollen counts in your area.
Garden with Care
First and foremost, remove all plants and trees in your yard that are know to have pollen. Get rid of old pots, flower boxes or tools that have gathered mold. To limit the risk of experiencing allergy symptoms while gardening, avoid touching your eyes, mouth or face while your hands are covered in dirt or after they've been in contact with plants. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants will help protect your skin. A face mask may also help reduce the chance of allergy symptoms. Be extra cautious of any new or unknown plants you come into contact with.
Choose the Right Plants
While plant allergies differ among individuals, there are some plants more likely to cause discomfort than others. Apple, cherry and dogwood trees are less likely than others to provoke allergy symptoms. Flowers found to be better for those with allergies include lilacs, daisies, daffodils, tulips and roses.
And just because you have allergies doesn't mean you must avoid grass and weeds altogether. Consider using grass such as St. Augustine and shrubs such as boxwood, hibiscus and hydrangeas around your yard, instead of cypress and Juniper shrubs and rye grass that are more likely to provoke discomfort among those with allergies. Furthermore, male plants are known to give off more pollen than females so talk to professionals at your local gardening center to find the right plants for you.
If you're someone with allergies, avoid mowing the lawn. Lawn mowers push pollen into the air so it's best to arrange for someone else to take care of this task. Cutting the grass circulates pollen and grass allergens into the air, so mowing the lawn may put you at a greater risk for inhaling these particles and getting them stuck to your clothing. If you do mow the lawn, you should wash your hands and clothes. Best practice also includes taking a shower to ensure that all dust, dirt and particles that could trigger allergies are removed. Furthermore, using air purifiers throughout your home will help to remove any airborne allergens from the outdoors that find their way inside. HEPA air purifiers like the Holmes® Mini-Tower Air Purifier with HEPA-Type Filter work especially well to trap 99 percent of airborne particles including pollen. After a long day of gardening with potential exposure to mold and pollen, come inside and breath more comfortably knowing your HEPA-type filter captures particles as small as 2 microns!
Additionally, all tools that are used for gardening and planting should remain outside of the home to avoid bringing allergens indoors. Keep them, as well as the shoes and gloves that you use, in a shed.