Spring is here, and so is allergy season — that dreaded time of year when you can’t wait to get outside, but you also know that pollen lurks around every corner. And for home owners, apartment renters, city-dwellers, and city folks alike, there’s a certain sense of pride that comes along with being able to work outside. Whether you’re working with a flower box on a tiny city deck, or mowing the lawn on your sprawling acreage, you’re susceptible to allergies, and for some, asthma.
Well, what if there were ways you could spend more time outside without the bothersome symptoms of allergies and asthma? We spoke with Robin Wilson, author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle and ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, who specializes in creating healthy spaces, who says there are plenty of ways to reduce symptoms when working outdoors. “If you suffer from allergies, you don’t have to spend the spring and summer months indoors, and you don’t have to limit your yard decorating to stones and concrete,” Wilson said. So throw on some sunscreen and breathe in that fresh spring air, here are 10 ways you can reduce and eliminate allergy symptoms, according to Wilson.
1. Cover up
Protecting your skin is essential, and making sure your face is out of the line of fire, whenever possible, is important, as well. “When working outdoors, wear a face mask, hat, glasses, gloves and a long-sleeve shirt to reduce skin and nose contact with pollen,” Wilson said.
2. Switch up your go-to products
Everyone has their product of choice when it comes to keeping a pristine yard, but some are better than others, and could even help reduce your risk of allergies. According to Wilson, “Since wood chips or mulch retain moisture and encourage mold to grow, instead use gravel, oyster shell or special plant groundcovers (vinca and pachysandra).”
3. Close the windows
If your home sits right on the lawn (as opposed to living in an apartment building), be sure your windows are closed from the time you start your yard work to a few hours afterwards. This will help to ensure no flying particles get inside.
4. Don’t be too proud to ask for help
Yes, you take pride in keeping your yard looking good, but if you’re especially prone to allergies or asthma, don’t be afraid to ask for a little help when it comes to certain tasks. “Ask family members who don’t have allergies to mow lawns and weed flower beds, or hire a landscaping firm,” Wilson suggests.
5. Maintain your grass
Although you might be trying to grow that perfect patch of green grass, be sure to keep it manageable. “Keep grass cut low at a maximum of two inches high to help keep stems of pollen from reaching high into the wind,” Wilson says.
6. Steer clear of hedges
When it comes to types of shrubbery, there are some you should stay away from if possible. “Be cautious about using hedges since their branches easily collect dust, mold and pollen, and keep them pruned and thin,” Wilson said.
7. Time your yard work appropriately
Choosing the right day or time to work outside will prove super beneficial. As Wilson suggests, limit yourself to cool or cloudy days, or work in the late afternoon or evening if possible. During such times, pollen concentration tends to be lower.
8. Shower when you’re finished working
Keeping your home, clothing, and self clean will help prevent allergens from becoming a total nuisance this season. “Immediately shower and change your clothes when you go back indoors and make sure to wash your hair to remove allergens trapped there,” Wilson said. “Have a space by the door where shoes can be taken off so you don’t track in pollen, dust, dirt and other allergens.”
9. Choose your plants consciously
“Make smart landscaping choices that are less likely to contribute to wheezing and sneezing,” Wilson suggests. “There are many plants you can use to design your home garden including flowers, shrubs, trees and more, that will not contribute to your outdoor allergy symptoms.”
10. When in doubt, stay in
Sometimes, it’s just better to stay inside for those who are prone to bad allergies. “There are some days that asthma and allergy sufferers are better off staying inside,” Wilson said. “Always check the pollen count and smog levels in your area. When outdoor air quality is good and your yard is full of beautiful plants, grass and flowers that won’t aggravate symptoms, you can work, play and relax outside with confidence.”