How to Maintain a Low-Allergen Garden
The closer you are to a pollen source, and the more frequently you're exposed to it, the more likely you are to develop an allergy. With that in mind, here are some steps you can take to minimize your exposure to allergenic plants.
- Consider a plant's proximity to doors and windows. If you're constantly coming into contact with plants loaded with pollen, the pollen can get on your clothes and follow you indoors. "As you re-landscape your garden, remove those plants that are pollen producers and replace them with low-allergen plants," says Pam. If you still want to enjoy high-pollen plants in the garden, plant them toward the back where you're less likely to come into contact with them.
- Incorporate bee-pollinated plants into your garden. So how do you know which plants don't produce a lot of pollen? Take a look at the flowers that bees tend to gravitate to; showy flowers tend not to be wind pollinated but rather bee pollinated. Most big, bright flowers are bee magnets. Their pollen is spread by hard-working insects moving it from flower to flower, rather than through the wind. Long tubular flowers are good for the landscapes of allergy-riddled gardeners. "They do have pollen, but usually because the pollen is down inside the flower, it's not released," says Pam. "It takes a bee or another insect to go down inside the flower and get the pollen, so it's not released into the atmosphere where you would be exposed to it."
- Diversify plantings. Check with your local nursery or extension office for a list of plants that aren't high-pollen producers. Bulbs are great because they tend to have showy flowers. They also bloom at a time when there's not a lot of background pollen in the air so your exposure level is a lot lower.
- Trim hedges. Keeping hedges pruned back can also keep pollen at bay. The fewer flowers the plant produces, the less pollen gets into the air.
When working outdoors, protect yourself by wearing gloves, coveralls, sunglasses and a hat. Then before you go in your house, take all that stuff off so you don't bring the pollen into the house.