Your yard or garden can be a dangerous place if you have allergies. Flowering plants produce pollens, other plants produce irritant sap, stinging insects make their homes there, and, unless your garden is organic, you are likely to come into contact with a wide array of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.
If your symptoms are not too severe, you may find that simply staying away from the culprit plants relieves your symptoms. If you choose to stay indoors during the flowering season of one or two plants, remember that furry pets can bring pollen indoors. You should also inspect bunches of bought flowers carefully to ensure that you are not allergic to the pollen or sap of any of the flowers or foliage.
Planning Your Garden
Many people regard a well maintained lawn as the centerpiece of their garden, but grass, unfortunately, is a very common source of allergens. Even if it is keep short, you will find that it can adapt by flowering very close to the ground, the flowers being visible only if you inspect the grass very carefully. In addition, some people with eczema react to the grass sap that is released during moving, Even if they are not actually doing the mowing themselves.
One alternative is to remove the lawn and replace it with either paving stones or gravel. Weeds can be surpressed by first laying a water permeable membrane. If you choose gravel, you can create a low maintenance garden by planting shrubs and other perennial plants through this membrane.
Most garden flowers are insect, rather than wind pollinated. As a result, few of them are likely to cause you problems if you suffer from hay fever. Unless, of course, they come from the same family as plants that produce pollens to which you are allergic, in which case a cross reaction may occur. Some of the plant families are listed, but only the edible ones, so you may need to check further in a plant guide. In general, if you have hay fever or are intolerant of edible grasses, you should avoid ornamental grasses.
Members of the daisy family, chrysanthemums, marigolds, asters, sunflowers, goldenrod, should be avoided if you react to foods of the daisy family or are allergic to ragweed or mugwort pollens. Cross reactions can occur, however, between plants that are unrelated. Tree pollens are more of a problem because many trees are wind pollinated. If you suffer from allergies, it is best to avoid birches, willows, alders, and hazels, which produce copious pollen in late winter and early spring. Conifers are also wind pollinated and can cause hay fever symptoms when their pollen is shed.
Keep your garden neat, and avoid wilderness areas where weeds can flourish. If your skin is sensitive, you should always wear gloves, but avoid rubber or latex, as these can cause severe allergic reactions. Choose cotton lined gloves whenever possible.
Avoid bonfires, for, in addition to producing unwanted chemicals in the smoke, they can spread allergens over a large area. If you are sensitive to molds, clear away fallen leaves and avoid having a compost pile, unless it is isolated and someone else can turn it for you. Take all your garden trash to the local waste site in sealed bags.