Now that spring is here, many people can be seen out and about working in their gardens - except those cooped up indoors this allergy season. If you deal with allergies and are scared of having a bad reaction around so many blooming plants, tending to your garden might seem like an impossible task. However, there are plenty of ways to make cultivating spring flowers more enjoyable for those who are allergic to pollen and mold. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
1. Avoid male plants. According to HGTV, communities often plant non-fruiting male trees because they don't produce seeds and fruit that can get messy. However, these plants can create a lot of pollen. If you're looking for trees to plant in your garden, it's better not to choose varieties that are "seedless" or "fruitless."
2. Buy plants that rely on pollinators. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) reports that plants either mate by releasing pollen into the wind or producing attractive flowers that lure pollinators like birds and insects. By choosing trees, shrubs and flowering plants with showy blooms, you won't be as susceptible to airborne pollen in your garden.
3. Garden when pollen levels are low. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) recommends gardening on rainy, cloudy or windless days, when pollen levels tend to be lower. It's also helpful to subscribe to email alerts from the National Allergy Bureau (NAB), which has accurate pollen and mold measurements across the U.S.
4. Consider how you dress. You might want to wear long-sleeved shirts, gloves and even a mask to reduce your contact with pollen. AAAAI suggests keeping your gardening tools and shoes outside to avoid bringing allergens into your home, as well as showering and washing your clothes afterward to remove pollen from your clothes, hair and skin. Also, be sure not to touch your face and be diligent about keeping your hands away from your eyes while you're working.
5. Avoid organic mulches. If you're allergic to mold, The University of Vermont recommends replacing organic mulch (like bark mulch, leaves or cocoa hulls) with something like pebbles, gravel or oyster shells. These won't retain moisture that could cause mold to grow, and they'll still keep out weeds and improve your gardening practices.