Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow? Well, definitely not by sitting in the house all spring avoiding allergy symptoms and letting her silver bells wilt from lack of TLC.
If you have seasonal allergies, you don’t have to bury your love of gardening or settle for a weed-ridden lawn to manage your allergy symptoms. “You can still enjoy the garden and Mother Nature, but you have to be prepared and do a little homework,” says Clifford Bassett, MD, an allergist at NYU Langone Health and author of the book The New Allergy Solution. “Many of my patients are allergy-savvy gardeners.”
Here are five of Dr. Bassett’s best tips for allergy-proofing your yard work.
1. Dress for pollen-fighting success. Wear sunglasses to block pollen from getting into your eyes, gloves, and a brimmed hat. Tuck away your hair and avoid gel and hair spray. Pollen love to latch onto your hair (especially hair that’s styled with gel).
2. Wear a pollen mask. “A face mask, such as a pollen mask or an NIOSH-rated 95 mask (available at home improvement stores) can be very helpful, especially if you’re sensitive to not only pollen, but mildew or molds that could be in the garden,” says Dr. Bassett. It’s one of two allergy home remedies he strongly recommends.
3. Leave pollen at the door. “If you have gardening tools [or] if you’re wearing outdoor clothing, change them before you enter your bedroom. Wash off your equipment, your glasses, [and] your shoes,” says Dr. Bassett. “These are ways to reduce pollen dispersal, back into your home.”
4. Garden in good weather. If it’s a windy, high-pollen day, you may want to reschedule your yard work. “Days where it’s moist and a little drizzly could be better for gardening in an individual that has extreme sensitivities,” says Dr. Bassett. Learn more about the best and worst weather for seasonal allergies.
5. Take your meds before you tend. “Take your allergy medications before the activity if you know you suffer from seasonal allergies or [allergies] from things in the garden,” says Dr. Bassett.