For those with asthma and/or allergy symptoms, gardening can become more pain than pleasure. But have no fear! Minimizing pesky allergens growing in your own backyard is easy with these tips from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and other experts:
- Pick the right plants. Asthma-friendly choices include St. Augustine grass; azalea, boxwood, and hibiscus shrubs; apple, dogwood, and red maple trees; and begonia, impatiens, snapdragon, and hosta flowering plants.
- Get good ground cover. Opt for gravel, oyster shell, or vinca plants. Conversely, popular covers like wood chips and mulch can retain moisture and encourage mold growth.
- Keep hedges under control. Prune annually to limit height and thin out the oldest wood. Hedge branches trap dust, mold, and pollen.
- Cover up. Wear a hat, glasses, gloves, long-sleeve shirt, and a National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health-approved face mask (available at most garden stores) to keep allergens away from skin and nose.
- Work late. Care for your plants in late afternoon or early evening when pollen counts tend to drop.
- Know the score. Download free mobile apps to get 24/7 pollen counts in your hometown at pollen.com and zyrtec.com. If you have asthma, you can also download an asthma symptom tracker app at asthmamd.org and myasthma.com.