Gardening With Allergies

Gardening With Allergies

By Michael Jenkins

Spring is a time for growth and renewal, and for many flowering plants it’s time for them to release their pollen and begin their reproductive cycle. While this is great for the flowers and for nature as a whole, for those of us suffering from allergies it can be a challenge. Gardening with allergies can be difficult sometimes—a stuffy nose and watery eyes aren’t fun—but fortunately there are a few things we can do to make it a little easier. In grand Gardzen tradition, let’s take a look at some tips and tricks to make gardening with allergies a bit easier.

The first step when dealing with any medical issue is talk to your health care provider. In this case, that would be your doctor or allergist. They can help you find out what you’re allergic to, what times of the year are likely to trigger your allergies, and some ways in which to deal with them. They may recommend dietary changes, medication, or a combination of the above. By following their advice, you’ll be on the path to managing your allergies effectively.

Keep an eye on the local forecast and garden when the pollen count is low. Weather can affect your allergies in several ways; good long rain can help remove pollen from the air, but bear in mind that windstorms and short bursts of rain can actually make pollen worse. Your local weather forecast should include both air quality and pollen information, which can be very helpful. Plan your outdoor activities—including gardening—for times when the weather and air are clement and you can mitigate your allergies.

Take allergy medications—after speaking with your doctor of course. Many over-the-counter allergy medications are quite effective, and prescription medications can be used when needed and prescribed by a physician. Be aware of potential side effects like drowsiness, which may change your plans a bit. But the symptom relief offered by allergy meds can make gardening much more enjoyable during allergy season.

Fill your garden with hypoallergenic plants. You can’t control the whole world of nature, but you can fill your garden space with plants that are less likely to trigger your allergies. We’re hesitant to provide a list of suggestions here as everyone’s allergies are different, but talking to a doctor and doing a bit of your own research can help you determine which plants will make gardening easiest for you during allergy season.

Wear a mask to keep pollen out of your nose and lungs. We know that many of us are tired of wearing masks outside, but for allergy sufferers it may make life easier when the pollen count is high. Masks are widely available, affordable, and easy to use, so take advantage of the protecting from pollen they offer when working outdoors. Likewise loose fitting long sleeves and gloves can help keep allergens away from your skin and minimize your reaction tot hem.

Washing your hands and face often while gardening to help minimize contact with the pollen or other allergens that trigger your allergies. Just rinsing your face and hands thoroughly with fresh water is generally enough. Done regularly this can help keep your allergic reactions to a minimal and let you enjoy your time outdoors with your plants.

Be aware when mowing the lawn, or when your neighbors have mowed their lawns. Cutting a bunch of grass is a great away to release a ton of allergens into the air, and that can make life miserable for some folks with allergies. Protecting yourself with a mask and goggles while mowing your own lawn—or better yet having someone else do it—and limiting outdoor time when your neighbors have just mowed theirs can help a good deal in preventing allergic reactions.

Consider indoor gardening, especially during times when your allergies are likely to be at their worst. If you’re prone to allergies at a particular time of the year, that may be a good reason to focus on your indoor garden till the worst passes. By limiting your time spent working out doors and having fun with your inside plants, you can keep your green thumb active while keeping yourself safe from allergens.

Don’t let allergies keep you out of your garden! Allergies can be a real pain, but they’re surmountable in many cases. By following some of these guidelines, consulting with your health care providers, and taking care of yourself a bit you can continue to enjoy gardening even when your allergies are bothering you.

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