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The no-nonsense guide to gardening with allergies

Monday, February 27, 2017, 2:19 PM - Don’t let allergies keep you out of the garden this year. Here are some tips to help keep your pollen allergy symptoms and other outdoor allergy symptoms at bay when gardening.

Select allergy-friendly plants, trees and grasses

If you have outdoor allergies, what’s in your garden or yard can affect the severity of your symptoms. 

Generally speaking, flowering plants like daisies, sunflowers, and cacti don’t trigger allergy symptoms. Rather it’s the pollen from trees, grasses, and shrubs you need to watch out for.

Here’s a quick look at what and what not to plant if you have allergies:

Plant this... ...Not this
TREES Apple, Cherry, Fern Pine, Dogwood, English Holly, Magnolia, Pear, Plum, Red Maple Alder, Ash, Aspen, Beech, Birch, Box Elder, Cedar, Cottonwood, Elm, Hickory, Maple, Mulberry, Oak, Olive, Palm, Pecan, Pine, Poplar, Sycamore, Walnut, Willow
SHRUBS Azalea, Boxwood, English Yew, Hibiscus, Hydrangea Cypress, Juniper
GRASSES St. Augustine Bermuda, Fescue, Johnson, June, Orchard, Perennial Rye, Redtop, Sweet Vernal, Timothy

Dress the part

When working in the garden, be sure to wear a hat, glasses, gloves, and a long-sleeve shirt. This will reduce your contact with pollen. 

When the pollen count is particularly high, consider wearing a NIOSH-approved face mask, which filters at least 95 per cent of airborne particles. 

Once you’re done working in the yard or garden, immediately shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes. This will help remove any allergens that may be clinging to you.

Time it right

Avoid daily tinkering in the early morning, when there’s a lot of pollen in the air. 

Instead, plan to work outside later in the afternoon or evening. Also consider doing the bulk of your gardening on cool or cloudy days, when the pollen count is generally lower.1

Other tips

Avoid using wood chips or mulch, which can retain moisture and encourage mold to grow. Instead use gravel, oyster shell, or ground covers like vinca or pachysandra. 

Keep grass cut low—around two inches. This will help prevent pollen from reaching the wind. 

Watch out for hedges since their branches can collect allergens. If you have hedges, keep them pruned and thin.

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