Allergen-Free Gardening Tips: Landscape Design Ideas for Allergy Sufferers
However, you can select trees, plants and lawn options that reduce your exposure to pollen and can allow you to enjoy outdoor living without worsening your allergy or asthma symptoms.
Having an allergen-free garden does not have to mean forgoing flowers or limiting the size of your lawn, but it does mean that you need to choose flowering plants carefully and consider allergy-friendly lawn alternatives that can help you more fully enjoy your outdoor living spaces.
Try these allergy-free landscaping tips to create a garden where you, your family and your guests can enjoy spending time outdoors without irritating your allergies.
Allergy-Free Gardening Tips: Allergen-Free Landscaping Trees
Trees provide shade, can lower your utility bills, add height to your garden and just look nice, which is why most homeowners want to add some type of trees to their landscape design.
There are two types of trees used in landscaping of which you should be aware if you or a family member has allergies or asthma: monoecious trees and dioecious trees.
Monoecious trees are species that have both male and female parts in a single tree.
Dioecious trees are species where a single tree is either male or female.
Spruce, pine, birch and oak trees are examples of monoecious trees that are both male and female and, therefore, produce pollen.
Allergy and asthma sufferers pretty much just need to avoid using these species in their yards at all, since all of them produce pollen that can make symptoms worse.
If you choose dioecious trees for your landscape design, you can select female trees to limit your exposure to pollen.
The problem with landscaping with trees is that most of the dioecious trees you find at your local nursery are going to be male, and male trees produce allergy-inducing pollen.
Here’s the deal: Homeowners want lovely trees in their yard, but they do not want the stuff the trees drop, such as seeds or fruits, which then have to be raked up on a regular basis.
Female trees are the fruit and seed bearers, which leads to more cleanup and more ongoing yard maintenance.
Male trees do not produce nearly as much debris that will later need to be cleaned up, but they do produce plenty of pollen.
Since most people prefer less yard maintenance over less pollen, landscaping trends have led to an increased use of male trees.
And since nurseries tend to carry what the majority of their customers want to buy, most of the dioecious trees you find at garden centers are male.
This is all well and good for most homeowners, but if you have an allergy or asthma sufferer in the house, you should consider removing pollen-producing trees from your yard and replacing them with trees that are friendlier to folks who have allergies.
To limit exposure to tree pollen, try planting one or more of these landscaping trees in your yard:
1. Female poplar trees
2. Female red maple trees
3. Female silver maple trees
4. Female mulberry trees
5. Female ash trees
6. Female red cedar trees (these are often called juniper trees)
While it might be a bit more difficult to find female dioecious trees for your landscaping needs, it is well worth the effort.
Your best bet is talking to your local garden center about placing a special order.
If you have well-established male trees in your yard that you would like to keep, you may be able to lower their pollen production by grafting the trees with wood from females of the same species.
You can look online for grafting tips or hire a professional gardener with tree grafting experience to do it for you.
Allergy-Free Gardening Tips: Weed Reduction
Weeds are annoying to any homeowner, but those who have pollen-irritated allergies or someone with asthma in their family find weeds particularly troubling.
In most parts of the country, weed pollen is at its worst during the late summer and early fall, but Southern California’s fantastic climate for growing plants of all sorts makes weeds a year-round issue for folks with respiratory ailments made worse by weed pollen.
Ragweed, Russian thistle, sagebrush, dandelions and Lamb’s Quarters are some of the worst, but there is a wide variety of common weeds that can increase symptoms in folks with asthma or pollen allergies.
You may not be able to ensure a completely weed-free garden, but you can reduce weed growth with these weed-free landscaping tips:
1. Cover areas of bare dirt between plants and trees with ground covers like mulch or gravel to limit weed growth.
2. Install a weed barrier beneath ground covers and around plants and trees.
3. In areas where you do not want any vegetation to grow, you can spray distilled white vinegar to kill weeds and limit regrowth.
4. Fill cracks between concrete slabs, bricks or paving stones with sand or small gravel.
5. Install weed-free artificial grass instead of a natural grass lawn where weeds often thrive.
6. If you have a natural grass lawn, keep it fertilized and healthy to try to limit weed growth.
7. If you have natural grass in your landscaping, make sure to mow it regularly to help keep weeds from flowering and producing pollen.
8. Pull weeds as soon as they appear to avoid allowing them to mature enough to produce pollen.
9. Keep your yard clear of piles of leaves, brush and other areas where weeds can flourish.
Allergen-Free Gardening Tips: Go Easy on Grasses
Grasses can be great for landscaping.
Including a lawn in your landscaping design provides a place for kids and pets to play, teenagers to sunbathe and adults to have an impromptu picnic right in their backyard.
Grasses of the ornamental sort can provide texture and color to your backyard or front yard landscaping and are also a popular choice.
The problem with natural lawns and many ornamental grasses is that they can significantly worsen symptoms for folks with asthma or pollen allergies.
They also provide a great spot for weeds to flourish, which leads to a higher pollen count in your yard and even more problems.
Grass allergies are more common than many people think, but it is amazing how many allergy sufferers still insist on having natural grass in their yard that they cannot even enjoy.
Many homeowners think a lawn is a necessary part of the package when designing their landscape, but the popularity of natural grass is shrinking as more and more people become aware of its many cons, such as its excessive water needs, the need for hours of ongoing maintenance every month, how it provides a perfect place for weeds to thrive, the potential for bacterial buildup and just how difficult it is to keep a natural lawn looking green and inviting.
However, even knowing all of this, many people feel that they must have a lawn area for their kids to play on, their pets to use as a restroom or their neighbors to admire.
Fortunately, there is a simple solution that can meet everyone’s needs: artificial turf.
Synthetic grass has come a long way over the last couple of decades, and today’s options provide a lush, welcoming lawn for all to enjoy.
In fact, the high-quality manufactured lawns being installed at residential and commercial properties in all areas of the country have such a realistic look and feel that you have probably seen them many times and had no idea they were not real grass.
For those who suffer from grass allergies, faux grass is a dream come true.
Installing a synthetic turf lawn means no more worries about weeds creeping up unnoticed, and having the chance to run, play, roll around or lie on your lawn without worsening your allergy symptoms.
Having an artificial lawn also means never having to mow, weed, water, aerate, fertilize or edge your lawn, which can save you lots of time and money well into the future.
If you have dogs, fake grass also provides a perfect restroom area that is easy to clean and will not get the brown spots that dog owners must live with when they have natural grass in their yards.
If you have a natural lawn and do not want to replace it with allergy-friendly artificial turf, make sure you keep it mowed and fertilized regularly to try to limit allergy-irritating pollen.
Allergy-Free Landscaping Tips: Picking the Right Plants
We all want a visually appealing garden for outdoor living and entertaining guests.
This often includes flowering plants that add texture, color and fragrance that make outdoor areas more inviting.
The problem with flowering plants is that they produce pollen, which is an issue for folks who suffer from pollen allergies or asthma.
This does not mean that you have to have a flower-free garden, but it does mean that you should make picking the right plants a priority.
While all flowering plants produce pollen, not all of them trigger pollen allergy symptoms in most people.
The problematic pollen is generally the type that is transported by the wind, such as that of dandelions.
Plants with colorful blooms that attract insects to carry the pollen generally do not have the same negative effect on allergy sufferers.
This means that most people actually can have vibrant colors and beautiful flowers in their gardens, as long as they choose plants that are pollinated by insects.
Here are 10 insect-pollinated plants that generally do not cause problems for those who suffer from pollen allergies:
3. Shasta daisies
10. Russian sage
In general, you want to look for plants that produce bright, vibrant blooms that attract insects, and avoid less-showy plants that rely on the wind to spread their pollen.
General Gardening Tips for Allergy and Asthma Sufferers
If is difficult to avoid pollen completely when designing a beautiful garden – particularly if you have existing plants with which you do not want to part – but you can still reduce pollen and allergy symptoms with mindful gardening practices.
Here are 11 general gardening and everyday living tips for those who suffer from pollen allergies:
1. Always wear long sleeves, long pants, gloves and sunglasses when gardening.
2. Remove your gardening gear and place it directly in the laundry basket to avoid spreading pollen throughout your home.
3. Uphold a no-shoes rule in your home, since the bottom of your shoes can track in pollen, pollutants and other allergens from your yard.
4. Keep your hedges, bushes, shrubs and plants properly pruned to reduce pollen production.
5. Keep pollen-producing plants and trees away from windows, doors and walkways to limit your contact with them.
6. If it is in your budget, hire a professional landscaping company to mow natural grass and care for pollen-producing landscaping features to avoid exposure to irritants.
7. Stay informed about the pollen index and forecast in your area, and avoid long periods of time outdoors when the pollen count is high.
8. Pollen is usually at its highest in the morning, so schedule your gardening tasks for later in the day.
9. Drying your clothes on a clothesline may be better for the environment and can lower utility bills, but wind-blown pollen can collect on your clothes when lined dried, so you are likely better off using a clothes dryer.
10. Keep your doors and windows closed on windy days to avoid pollen entering your home.
11. Include attractive hardscape options in your landscaping design, such as paving stone patios or walkways, to add beauty to your yard without allergen-producing plants or grasses.
Photo Credits (in order of appearance): morgueFile, chelle; morgueFile, krosseel; morgueFile, talldude07; morgueFile, EmmiP; morgueFile, chamomile.