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This Earth Day, allergies don’t have to keep you out of the garden. Every year, Earth Day reminds us to appreciate our part in the planet’s ecosystem and do what we can by planting, recycling and conserving energy to protect it. Earth Day falls on April 22 this year, and with the proper planning and choices, you can create a beautiful, fruitful garden that doesn’t exacerbate your allergies.

Do you suffer from Seasonal Allergies? Contrary to popular belief, it may seem like you can’t be outside for a long time. Here are five tips for cultivating a garden where you can breathe freely.

1. Choose the right plants.

Having an allergy-friendly garden doesn’t mean sacrificing color or variety. Biotic plants, which are pollinated by insects or animals have heavier pollen that isn’t airborne, making them less likely to aggravate your allergies.

Plenty of flowering plants are pollinated by wildlife and use their bright colors to better attract pollinators. These plants include hydrangeas, roses, zinnias, violets, orchids, azaleas and petunias, among others. Herbs, fruits, and vegetables are all among these non-allergenic plants as well.

Many of these plants have the added bonus of supporting local bee and butterfly life. Growing edible plants also adds the benefit of being able to eat the fruits of your labor! While these plants are unlikely to trigger your allergies, wearing a mask while working closely with them as an extra precaution can’t hurt.

If you’re unsure whether a plant is biotic, research online or ask at your local nursery how a plant is pollinated before your purchase.

2. Swap wood mulch for gravel or pebbles.

Mulching your garden helps keep plant roots cool in the spring and summer heat, which helps retain moisture. Proper mulching also helps prevent allergy-aggravating weeds from worming their way into your garden, but choosing the right mulch is important. Wood mulch can nullify the weed-stopping benefits of mulching with its tendency to grow allergy-causing mold. Instead, mulch with gravel or pebbles which help provide plants with needed protection from heat and weeds, without creating a haven for mold.

3. Wet grass before gardening or set down edge stones.

Even if you choose plants that won’t aggravate your allergies, the surrounding grass can still give you trouble. Replacing the grass in your yard with ground plants like creeping thyme, vinca or Corsican mint can help eliminate grass-related allergens, but isn’t an option for everyone. If getting rid of your grass is out of the question, wetting your lawn before you garden can help keep pollen out of the air while you’re working. Penning in your garden with flagstones to provide yourself a place to kneel can also give you a range of protection and help prevent grass pollen from clinging to your clothes.

4. Wear a face mask and hat.

Covering your face and head when your garden needs tending can help keep your allergies in check on windy days. The wind can carry allergens from neighboring plants into your yard; a mask will help keep them out of your face. If you use a bandana or a reusable face mask, be sure to wash it and your hat when you finish gardening for the day to prevent allergens from spreading around your home or gardening storage space.

5. Keep tools and gloves clean and in their own space.

Rinsing your tools and gloves outside before storing them in a container in your garage or by the outside door can help keep allergy-irritating grime and dust from accumulating on them. Wiping down your shoes after gardening, or wearing a pair of easily hosed off clogs to garden can also keep allergens out of your home after a trip outside. Storing your gardening tools, gloves and shoes in their own separate space reduces the chances of spreading any stray pollen to other parts of your home.

These tips can help you cultivate a garden that lets you breathe more freely, but they aren’t a permanent fix for your outdoor allergies. If your allergies are keeping you away from your garden, Dr. Pasha can help you find and treat your allergies at the source. Get relief from your allergies today.