Seasonal allergies and respiratory issues can be a real downer, especially for those who love to spend time outside. Around 51% of homeowners who are in the process of upgrading their outdoor spaces spend six or more hours in their yards every week. Unfortunately, if you suffer from hay fever or asthma, you might be forced to spend much of the year indoors… or so you might think. Actually, there are lots of ways to reduce your sniffles and sneezes just by making some simple landscaping design changes. Below are just a few ways to create a beautiful garden that won’t irritate your asthma or allergies.
When you’re out buying wholesale plants, you’ll want to steer clear of any specimens that are airborne-pollinated. That means that trees like birch, oak, willow, pine, and sycamore are all off-limits, as are mugwort and ragweed. Instead, focus on plants that do not produce airborne pollen, like hydrangea, ferns, and fruit trees. These insect-pollinated plants have much heavier pollen that doesn’t float in the air (and therefore, they won’t agitate your allergies as much).
Because grasses are wind-pollinated, none are really the best choice for those with allergies or asthma. But not all grasses are created equal. Even if you have it mowed regularly, Bermuda grass is especially bad for respiratory issues. Hybrid Bermuda grass or Buffalo grass (but only the female clone versions) are much better options. If these aren’t available, you might consider reducing your lawn in favor of hardscaping elements like paving or stones in your landscaping design.
The sound of a babbling brook may bring you peace, but oversized water features might make you sneezy! Big fountains actually create air currents, which can lift up and disperse pollen all around your yard. That’s not to say you can’t have a water feature, though. Instead of big waterfalls or fountains, opt for a smaller decorative feature with trickling, rather than churning, water.
Look for “two-house” options when you shop for plants for your landscaping design. Also known as dioecious plants, these flora have both make and female components. While the male parts do produce pollen, the female parts produce only seeds. That means that the female shrubs or trees won’t irritate your sinuses. They often trap pollen from other plants too, which means they act kind of like an outdoor air filter. Some of these dioecious plants are on the “no-no” list, but only if they’re of the male variety. Popular options include mulberry, sumac, red oak, poplar, and bay laurel.
We mentioned in the section on airborne pollination that you should limit your exposure to plants that pollinate via wind. That means insect-pollinated plants are much better choices for your back yard garden. You may have heard about campaigns to save the bees, and for very good reason: bees are chiefly responsible for the majority of food we eat. We very literally rely on bees to survive. One of the best things you can do, then, is to include bee-friendly plants in your landscaping design. While lavender may irritate some sensitive noses, there are many other options that both you and the bees will like. English daisies, raspberry bushes, mint, thyme, calendula, and forget-me-nots are all excellent additions that will brighten up your space without making you reach for your handkerchief.
When your allergies are acting up or you’re afraid of an asthma attack, it can be a challenge to spend time outside. But there’s no reason you should have to suffer just because of a poor landscaping design. By following these tips, you’ll take your garden from an allergenic’s nightmare to an asthmatic’s paradise in no time.