For many seasonal allergy sufferers, gardening is totally unbearable. Sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, congestion. It can be nearly impossible to bring yourself to tend to that beautiful outdoor oasis you’ve spent time cultivating when you’re overrun by the symptoms of hay fever. Allergies don’t have to get between you and your favorite hobby – not when there are ways to garden with seasonal allergies.

The Basics

This goes without saying, but avoid touching your eyes and face when you’re handling plants or working outside. Change your clothes upon entering your home, leave tools and shoes at the door and avoid bringing allergens inside. Shower the moment that you come inside to help reduce symptoms.

While gardening, wear gloves, hats, long sleeves, and long pants to prevent contact with your skin. Add a hat to keep pollen out of your hair and sunglasses to protect your eyes. Don’t spend the rest of your day in the clothes that you wore while gardening and definitely don’t wear the outfit again until after you launder it.

Check Your Pollen Levels

It’s best to do your work when pollen levels are lower. This means tending to your flowers on rainy, cloudy, windless days and forgoing days that are warm and dry. Between 5 am and 10 am and again at dusk, the pollen count rises, so keep this in mind when picking times for yard maintenance.

The National Allergy Bureau (NAB), offers an email subscription service that will send you alerts regarding pollen and mold levels and offers counts throughout the United States, in Canada, and in Argentina. Sign up for allergy alerts in your area so that you can stay up to date.

If you absolutely must go out to the garden during high pollen times, wear a face mask in order to filter allergens out. As soon as you get inside, wash your hands, face, and nostrils in order to remove any pollen that may have found its way inside.

Carefully Curate

One of the ways to garden with seasonal allergies is to pick your flowers carefully. There are dozens of options for flowers that are better suited for gardeners with outdoor allergies. Hypoallergenic flowers like cacti, cherry trees, tulips, roses, and snapdragons are all great options for people with seasonal allergies because they have a lower pollen count. Carnations, hydrangea’s, magnolias, and geraniums are all options as well.

On the reverse, there are plenty of high pollen county trees, grasses, and flowers that you may want to avoid. These include ash, cedar, maple, ryegrass, cottonwood, daisies, dahlias, and chrysanthemums. Certain types of sunflowers, like the apricot twist and joker, are hypoallergenic because their pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind.

Visit an Allergist

The best way to determine which plants trigger your allergies is by taking a skin test, which can be administered by an allergist or immunologist. Once you’ve narrowed down your triggers, together, you and your allergist can develop a treatment plan. This can include strategies to simply avoid your triggers, a prescription for medication, or immunotherapy to provide permanent relief.

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