An expert gardener shares his top tips for avoiding hay fever this summer


Gardeners with allergies can get tired of suffering severe hay fever symptoms when caring for plants outdoors.

Now award-winning garden designer Jackie Herald has some tips for you.

The gardening professional is working with Allergy UK to create outdoor spaces for allergy sufferers and has offered some expert advice that will help you enjoy the hobby without constant irritation.

“We shouldn’t just design gardens to be beautiful,” she says. “They have to work with the people who are going to benefit.”

Here are seven great tips from the pro that will help you fight pollen when sprucing up your garden.

Understand your triggers

“It’s really important to understand what triggers your hay fever. In general, if you suffer from hay fever, react to pollen in late winter and spring, this suggests that you are allergic to tree pollen. .

“Come summer, when the grasses come into flower, that suggests your hay fever is triggered by grass pollen.” Some 85% of people with hay fever are allergic to grass pollen, she notes.

Wear a hat

Jackie suggests wearing a hat to keep pollen away from your nose when it falls from raised plants. The gardening ace says, “Wear a brim hat, which can protect you from pollen falling around your nose.”

Choose your gardening time carefully

“Avoid times of day when pollen is likely to rise, such as early in the day as the day heats up, and again in the early evening.”

Watch the weather

“Keep an eye on the weather forecast as the pollen level is now regularly released with the forecast. It tends to be associated with warm sunny days.”

From where you put plants to how you dress, Jackie Herald has plenty of advice for hay fever sufferers

Position your plants carefully

“Don’t put the most allergenic tree in a place where you’re going to have a nice garden bench under it to sit on or near a front door. When you open the door and walk into the house, you can rub against, say, an olive tree that’s allergenic, so your pollen gets inside.

“If you have pollen in your hair, on your clothes, or on your carpet, it stays for centuries and amplifies the impact you felt of being with pollen outdoors.”

Hay fever is worse in urban environments, Jackie says, where pollen becomes more allergenic when combined with pollutants and held airborne by hard surfaces. So, in urban spaces, use soft landscaping such as well-mowed lawns and swales (a shady spot, or a sunken or marshy spot) and place your plants away from doorways, walkways, and patios.

Consider some sterile plants

Many hybrid plants, with double flowers, are sterile, she points out. “The sterile plants are perfect for allergy sufferers. There are some sterile grasses and, of course, bamboo, as well as trees and shrubs.

“If you go for a double flower rather than a single, it’s less likely to cause problems, but at the same time making a totally barren garden would be so sad because we have a responsibility to support and encourage our biodiversity. Personally , I would avoid a completely sterile garden but I could include sterile plants.”

other plants that are less likely to trouble allergy sufferers include Escallonia ‘Iveyi’, whitebeam, Clematis armandii, dianthus and rosemary, she says.

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Avoid certain activities

“One job you might want to have someone else do is mow the lawn. But if someone else mows the lawn regularly, it removes the grass blooms, which is helpful for any person with grass-triggered allergies.

“Some people are allergic to various molds. Some of the molds that exist in compost can be a problem, so turning a compost pile or mulching can be an activity to avoid.

“The bottom line is that you need to know what you’re allergic to. The best way to manage what you do, where and when you spend time is to avoid the trigger.”

Do you have any tips for dodging pollen this summer? Let us know in the comments.

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