They say you reap what you sow—and when it comes to gardening with allergies, that old saying couldn’t be truer. If you’re one of the estimated 40 million Americans with hay fever, the grasses, trees and flowers in your yard can aggravate symptoms. But planting the right seeds, shrubs and saplings this spring can help you have fewer symptoms all season long.
Uproot These Grasses and Trees
Seasonal allergies occur when your body treats pollen in the air as an unwelcome invader. This overreaction can cause congestion, sneezing, a red nose, a scratchy throat and itchy, watery eyes.
Some greenery can make allergy symptoms sprout more than others. Aim to keep these irritating offenders off your property:
- Grasses: johnsongrass, ryegrass, timothy, Bermuda, orchard, sweet vernal grasses, bluegrass, fescue, ornamental grasses
- Allergy-triggering trees: maple, oak, birch, hickory, juniper, cedar, cottonwood
Raise These Fruits and Flowers Instead
Having allergies doesn’t mean you’re stuck landscaping with gravel and concrete. These buds and blooms will beautify your yard with less chance of giving you the sniffles.
- Flowers: lilac, daisy, geranium, dahlia, hibiscus, iris, roses, snapdragon, tulips
- Low-allergen trees: cherry, apple, dogwood, pear, plum
Hedge Your Bets with These Habits
Gardening is good exercise, produces nutritious fruits and vegetables, and helps beautify your community. In short, it’s worth the effort, even with allergies. To increase your comfort, however, follow these tips when tending to your plot:
- Take your allergy medications before you head outside. And if you have asthma, keep your quick-relief drugs on hand.
- No matter what type of grass you have, keep it short. If you can, ask someone else to mow.
- Don’t touch your eyes or face while you’re working. Wear a mask and gloves if they help.
- Wash your hands often, and rinse your eyes when you come back inside. Shower before you go to sleep to avoid getting pollen on your sheets.
- Visit an allergist. He or she can help you identify the plants that aggravate your symptoms. You might benefit from treatments such as allergy shots.
Learn more about gardening with allergies from professional gardener, author and educator Janet Macunovich. At her upcoming free seminar, she’ll tell you how to create an allergy-friendly garden and how to minimize allergic reactions. Learn more here.