Bermuda grass lawn, consider replacing it with a newer, more asthma friendly hybrid Bermuda grass. ‘Princess 77’ is a new Bermuda grass hybrid that can be planted from seed. It is next to pollen free, grows very low and tight, and is especially good looking.
3.With OPALSÔ 1 is best, 10 is worst. Use only plants with rankings of 1-5. The more plants in your gardens that have rankings ranging from 1-3, the friendlier your place will be for anyone with allergies or asthma.
4.Remove any trees or shrubs with rankings over OPALSÔ #7. The woody landscape plants with rankings of 8-10 are all sure-fire allergy triggering plants and you can live without them.
5.Replace any removed high pollen, asthma triggering plants with their opposite, female trees or female shrubs. Also good as replacements are perfect flowered plants that are known to be very low pollen producers. These will all have good (low) OPALSÔ rankings.
6.Use only plants that are well adapted to your own area. If you can find natives that have low allergy rankings, consider using them. Look around your own neighborhood, and see for yourself, which kinds of plants seem to be flourishing there already. For almost every kind of plant used in landscaping, there is now a no or low pollen version of it, if you know what to look for.
7.Use a wide variety of plant materials; diversity is good. Biodiversity always makes sense. The more diverse our gardens are the fewer problems we’ll have with insects and molds.
8.Avoid plants with strong fragrances or odors, as they can cause asthma. Don’t plant jasmines or similar vines next to entrances or exits and certainly don’t use them underneath bedroom windows.
9.For mulch, use rock or gravel instead of bark to cut down on toxic mold spores in the garden. Flat stones or pavers also make good, mold free mulching materials.
10.To further eliminate mold spores, encourage wild birds in your garden. Virtually all wild birds eat insects, and insect damage triggers outbreaks of mold. Even the tiny hummingbirds actually eat a large number of insects. Put up a hummingbird feeder!
11.Keep your plants healthy. This too will cut down on both pollen and mold. When it is hot and windy, do some irrigating. Fertilize everything in the garden spring and fall. If plants are crowding each other too much, thin them out. If tree branches overhead are putting your whole yard in deep shade, consider having the tree thinned to let in more light. Fresh air and light are the enemies of molds.
12.If a tree, shrub, vine or any other plant always looks sickly, looks dirty, or always attracts bugs, then shovel prune it. Dig it up and get rid of it. Replace it with something easier to grow. Don’t get caught up in having to spray insecticides all the time, as they too can easily cause asthma and allergies.
Make your garden a fun, stress free zone. Be sure to have a few comfortable garden chairs to sit in, and a little table of some sort is always good too. Wind chimes, bird feeders, and birdbaths can add greatly to your enjoyment and cost little. A beautiful, pollen free, allergy free, asthma friendly garden can be just the place for healthy children, and a great place for anyone to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. For more advice on low allergen gardening, look up allergy free gardening on the Internet, or go to your local library and read some books on this new important subject.
Tom Ogren is the author of five published books, including: Allergy-free Gardening, Safe Sex in the Garden (Ten Speed Press), and What the Experts May NOT Tell You About: Growing the Perfect Lawn (AOL Time Warner Books). Tom has an MS degree in Agriculture-Horticulture, taught landscape gardening for twenty years, owned and operated two wholesale-retail nurseries, and in northern Minnesota was host of the popular Public Radio call-in gardening show, “Tom Ogren’s Wild World of Plants!”
Tom (Thomas Leo Ogren) has published hundreds of articles on health and gardening. His work has appeared in diverse publications such as South Africa’s Veldt and Field, in Women’s Day, Alternative Medicine, the Burpee Seed Catalog, Sunset Magazine, Landscape Architecture, Der Spiegel, The London Times, The Seattle Times, The Washington Post, and even the Jerusalem Post. He has also made numerous appearances on HGTV and his work was the focus of two made for TV documentaries, one by the Canadian Discovery Channel.
Tom has been interviewed on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and his groundbreaking research was featured on The CBS Evening News. He is a frequent lecturer for garden clubs, arboretums, civic groups, hospitals, medical groups, Master Gardeners, and professional associations of landscapers, landscape designers, writers, nursery people, arborists, and urban foresters. He has become well known for his fun, high energy, highly informative, unusual and provocative talks. Tom is a member of the Professional Landscape Designers Association, and the GWA, the Garden Writers of America. Unlike many well-published authors, he still tries to answer all of his own email. You can contact Tom through his website, at: www.allergyfree-gardening.com