The Mountain Gardener: Allergy Mitigation Landscaping – Press Banner

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According to historical data from our region, the number of pollens is generally moderate in February. According to the weather, Pollen.com and Pollenlibrary.com show average to high counts for only a few days this month. If you have allergies, you don’t need a website to tell you what the number is. Our native red alder is now in bloom and, along with juniper and birch, are the main culprits right now. Grasses, ragweed and other weeds, and most trees flower and shed pollen in March, April, and May. Then comes summer, then fall and with it other problems for allergy sufferers. To further complicate and make matters worse for allergy sufferers, climate change is making the pollen season longer and more intense. You can’t control what grows outside of your own garden, but here are some tips on what to plant and what not to plant in your garden.

Everyone blames the acacia for its allergies, but these aren’t the real culprits for allergy sufferers. I didn’t realize how scattered the redwood pollen is at this time of year. Last year, after horrific winds in late February and early March, my decks were covered with 2 inches of thick yellow redwood “blossoms”. Actually the flowers are the male cone, but the boy can put out the pollen. Ask a very allergic friend how her life is affected by our beloved sequoias. And because redwoods live in such a narrow stretch of coast, there is no allergy vaccine for those who are badly affected. But let’s get back to what you can do in your garden if you have allergies.

Yes, the acacias are in full bloom. Being one of the first flowering trees, we see that they catch our attention. Flowering acacias are often blamed for being the cause of allergic reactions at this time of year, but acacia trees are heavily pollinated by insects and their heavy pollen does not tend to disperse in the air. These are the inconspicuous and silent plants that you need to watch out for. If you are allergic, some plants are worse than others for you.

About 25 to 30 popular landscape plants are responsible for the majority of plant-related allergies in California. At the height of the pollen season, from late February to June, there are often thousands of pollen grains in every cubic meter of air. You can breathe hundreds of them with each breath. Although the pollen can travel many miles, the majority tend to stay in the general area of ​​its origin.

Redwoods, oaks, alders, ash and other wind-pollinated trees such as olive, birch, elder, cypress, elm, juniper, maple, barren mulberry, pine, walnut, willow and privet are the main source of spring pollen. Most native plants are good in the landscape without a sneeze, but if you have bad allergies or asthma, it’s best to avoid wind-pollinated ceanothus, elderberry, and coffee.

You may not be able to avoid these culprits that grow on other properties, but you can make the most of your own backyard by creating a sneeze-free landscape. Replacing existing plants can be impractical, but planning future plantings with these things in mind will save you a lot of headaches and allow you to enjoy the sun outside in your garden.

The type of flower is a good way to judge plants. The most beautiful flowers are usually the least problematic for people with allergies. Plants with bright, showy flowers are usually pollinated by insects rather than wind. These flowers produce less pollen and their pollen is larger and heavier, sticking to the insect rather than becoming airborne and causing sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes.

Some trees that are good for allergy-free gardens are apple, cherry, dogwood, magnolia, pear, and plum. Shrubs like azaleas, boxwood, lilac, rose of Sharon, hydrangea, and viburnum are also not likely to cause problems. Good flower choices include alyssum, begonia, clematis, columbine, bulbs like crocus, daffodil, hyacinth. Dahlia, daisy, geranium, hosta, impatiens, iris, lily, pansy, petunia, phlox, roses, sage, snapdragon, sunflower, verbena and zinnia are also good. Lawns of perennial ryegrass, bluegrass, and tall fescue mixtures are generally acceptable as they will not flower unless they grow to 12 inches or more. Bermuda grass, on the other hand, can pollinate when the lawn is very short, sometimes as quickly as a few days after mowing.

We don’t know what’s going to happen regarding the rain for us this spring. Symptoms may worsen for the allergic person if the body reacts to the disappearance of pollen after its initial appearance to have more later in the spring. According to Dr. Stanley Fineman, allergist at the Atlanta Allergy and Asthma Clinic, “You become sensitized to it, so when you are… re-exposed, you can have an even more severe allergic reaction. “

Here’s a sneeze-free spring for allergy sufferers.


Jan Nelson, Certified Landscape Gardener and Nurseryman in California, will answer questions about gardening in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Email him at [email protected], or visit jannelsonlandscapedesign.com.


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