Start Spring Gardening Not Sneezing

Just because you suffer from seasonal allergies does not mean you cannot enjoy spring gardening and have a beautiful garden and yard. With some careful planning now, you can enjoy a spring and summer full of color without itchy, watery eyes and a runny or stuffy nose.

Gardening with AllergiesgardeningSeasonal allergies start in the spring with certain varieties of trees and continues on through the summer with grasses. The one thing that the allergy-causing plants have in common is that their pollen is spread through the air. If you keep this in mind, you can plan a spring and summer garden that is full of color but not air-borne pollen.

One way to bring color to your yard without pollen is to select plants that have multi-colored leaves. There are many varieties of coleus that sport colors ranging from pinks, to yellows, to reds along with splashes of green and white. Scarlett, Pastel, Pineapple and Coral Sunrise coleus are beautiful mixed with common impatiens.

Weigela will make a shrub with flowers that attract bees and hummingbirds. Because weigela relies on bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds to spread its pollen, it is perfect for the low pollen garden. In general, any plant that attracts bees or butterflies will not cause a problem with your allergies.

This also means you can have hibiscus shrubs, buddleia, hydrangeas and roses in the yard and create an Eden for the pollinators without adding to your pollen problems. All of these plants rely on bees and butterflies to move pollen from one plant to another. 

All of your garden vegetables will be pollen allergy friendly. This includes the brassicas (cabbages, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts) the nightshades (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, potatoes) and cucurbits (squashes, cucumbers, and melons). These plants all self-pollinate or utilize bees and other insects for pollination. This means that they do not produce air-borne pollen and makes them allergy friendly in the garden.

If you want a plant that not only looks god but taste good, try Opal basil. The leaves are a beautiful purple and a delight to the eye. It is slightly fragrant so it pleases the nose. The leaves are yummy in salads and Italian dishes. The plant does not produce wind-blown pollen. You are safe planting any member of the mint family. This includes the mints, the basils, the oreganos and marjorams. When these plants do go to flower, they produce waxy pollen that attracts bees. They do not produce air-borne pollen.

If you want to plant trees avoid elm and birch trees. Plant apple, pear, peach and dogwood trees for less air-borne pollen. If you want more succulent-type plants, use sedums such as golden sedum or dragon’s blood sedum. Hen and Chicks is a succulent with an interesting shape and color and will not produce pollen.

If you have mold allergies, be sure to wear a mask when turning over the soil or moving mulch, as spores might be disturbed.

With a little careful planning, have seasonal allergies does not mean you cannot have a colorful garden.

Till next time


How Often Should You Get New Pillows

How often should you get new pillows? That’s a good question and one many of us tend to overlook.

Allergy PillowsWe have a habit of becoming attached to our pillows, so the prospect of tossing an old one and replacing it can be difficult. Most people we talk to say a comfortable pillow is one of the most important things to a ensure a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately many of us make a crucial mistake when it comes to our favorite pillows: We’re keeping them for way too long.

We get used to them, but unfortunately we’re not the only ones attached to that old pillow…there can be millions of dust mites in there too, not to mention dirt and oil and dead skin cells.

Some studies suggest we replace our mattress every 5 to 7 years and pillows every 6 months. Replacing a mattress can be expensive. Some of our customers say they spent $2,500 to $4,000 for a mattress. On the other hand pillows are much more affordable.

A good indicator of whether a pillow has outlived its usefulness is by folding it. If you fold your pillow and it remains in that position then it is no longer functional and should be replaced.

There are a couple of things we recommend to our customers. You can wash some pillows in hot water to kill dust mites and remove the dirt and oil. Problem is some pillows never feel the same after being washed. The other thing we strongly recommend is encasing them with a dust mite proof pillow encasing. That will keep the cleaner, fresher smelling and allergen free. When you get a new pillow just use the same cover.

All of this can help to extend the life of your pillow but none of it represents a permanent solution to the problem. How often should you get new pillows? The answer depends on how important your health really is to you. If you want to avoid allergies, than replacing your pillow every 6 months to a year is by far your best answer.

No matter how comfortable your favorite pillow may be, it’s not more important than your health. Do the right thing for you and your family and make sure you replace all of your pillows regularly. This will help keep dust mites at bay and let everyone get a good night’s sleep.

Wishing you the best of health

The Allergy Store

Is Frequent Vacuuming Helpful For Allergies?

Well that depends. The basic fact is that in many instances vacuuming often releases just as much dust into the air as it picks up out of the carpeting.

A study conducted in 2011 compared 21 vacuum cleaners from 11 manufacturers marketed for household and commercial use, ranged in age from six months to 22 years and cost from less than $100 to almost $800. They looked at the effects that age, brand and other factors had on the amount of small particles and bacteria released into air.

None were perfect, all of the vacuums released some fine dust and bacteria into the air. Not surprising to us, vacuums with so-called High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters in some cases released only slightly lower levels of dust and bacteria. Newer and more expensive vacuum cleaners were generally less polluting than older or less expensive models.

The good news is that vacuums are improving and today’s vacuums are even better than they were in 2011, so if you have been dragging around a vacuum that is more than for or five years old, consider replacing it with a new one.

So, is frequent vacuuming better for allergies? We don’t necessarily think so. If you have a good vacuum cleaner, take your shoes off and don’t have lots of pets then  vacuuming every few days is ok.  If the carpet or floor is dirty by all means vacuum.

One of the things we tell all of our clients that seems to help is to do their vacuuming early in the day. It gives the dust time to settle before they settle in for the night or put the baby down for a nap.

BTW our Miele vacuum cleaner at home is 10 years old and we have no intentions of replacing it.

Vacuum Cleaner Emissions as a Source of Indoor Exposure to Airborne Particles and Bacteria
Environmental Science & Technology

Wishing you the best of health