27 Sept 2022

Hints and tips for gardening with hayfever

Leonie McKiernan@leitrimtoday

Ireland’s most well-known gardener, Diarmuid Gavin has created informative videos and a low-pollen plant guide to encourage people with hayfever back into the garden this summer.

Many hayfever sufferers tend to avoid outdoor activities at this time of year to escape common symptoms such as a stuffy, runny nose and red, itchy eyes. So the Summer Ease with Cetriz campaign is providing practical steps and tips on low-pollen plant options to help hayfever sufferers’ enjoy gardening too.

Around 20% of Irish people suffer from hayfever, also called seasonal rhinitis. It is an allergic response caused by allergens, such as pollen. “Pollen allergy is the most common springtime allergy, which occurs during blooming of plants. Although you can’t avoid pollen, you can take the appropriate steps to reduce your risk of allergy symptoms and outbreaks throughout the season whilst still enjoying activities like gardening,” says Boots Pharmacist, Paula Reilly.

Diarmuid Gavin

Diarmuid Gavin’s top tips to creating a low-pollen garden:

1. Things to consider when choosing plants, trees and shrubs are; the size of the plant, how much pollen it produces and where it is located in the garden

2. Consider replacing your grass lawn with paving or gravel. Or plant ferns and camomile lawn as a grass substitute

3. Remove the weeds and wildflowers! Thistles and nettles – common to Ireland – should be removed from your garden along with other pollen-heavy weeds like ragweed.

But enlist someone else to do the weeding for you so you don’t set off your allergies

4. Avoid male trees and shrubs such as, Fraxinus Excelsior (common ash), Acer (maple) and Ilex (holly) as they produce large amounts of pollen, or any male trees or shrubs

5. Try and avoid flowers that give off a strong scent, like roses or anything in the daisy family and ornamental grasses

6. For beautiful, colourful, low-pollen options in your garden, plant:

l Fuchsia

l Hardy geraniums

l Foxgloves

l Aquilegia (Colombine)

l Crocuses

l Azaleas – these come in a wide range of colours, white, pink, red, purple, orange and yellows, as well as many multi-colours

7. Grow your own food by planting low-pollen lettuce (a natural antihistamine), blueberry bushes and apple trees in your garden.

8. Hedges can harbour dust, pollens and mould spores, consider replacing these with a fence or wall.

More practical tips

Boots pharmacist, Paula Reill advises:

1. Monitor pollen forecasts and garden in the evening or in the morning on cool cloudy days

2. Do not touch your eyes or nose during gardening to avoid the transfer of pollens

3. Rub a small amount of petroleum gel inside your lower nostrils to help prevent pollen entering

4. Wear a wide brimmed hat to prevent pollen landing on your hair. Cover up and wear gloves, a long sleeved top, sunglasses and a mask if you’re cutting the grass

5. Bathe or shower and change your clothes after being outside

6. Speak to a pharmacist about treatment options

Log on to the Cetriz Ireland Facebook page ( #SummerEaseWithCetriz to watch a series of videos, featuring Diarmuid Gavin, showing viewers how to garden with hayfever, how to garden in an urban space and how to grow their own food.

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