Fight Pollen Allergies With a Low-Pollen Landscape

Grow a low-pollen landscape for your home to combat allergies.

| June 2015

  • Rose with Pollen
    It is entirely possible to design a very good, low-pollen landscape by using this information to select the best plants from those available at many quality nurseries and home garden centers.
    Photo by Fotolia/Avgust174
  •  The Allergy-Fighting Garden
    In โ€œThe Allergy-Fighting Garden,โ€ author Thomas Leo Ogren shares his innovative system for combating allergens that is based on the crucial matter of plant sex.
    Cover courtesy Ten Speed Press

  • Rose with Pollen
  •  The Allergy-Fighting Garden

If you are one of the millions of people with allergies or asthma, The Allergy-Fighting Garden (Ten Speep Press, 2015), by Thomas Leo Ogren, is for you. This book shows you how to avoid plants that trigger allergies and how to create a garden that will actually protect you by trapping pollen and cleaning the air around you. Ogren’s revolutionary approach combines the best of his previous books into a full-color guide, including hundreds of new and updated plant listings and photographs. This excerpt, which focuses on creating a low-pollen landscape, is from Chapter 2, “How to Fight Allergies Close to Home.”

Buy this book from the GRIT store: The Allergy-Fighting Garden.

How to Fight Allergies Close to Home

You may wonder whether what you plant in your own yard can make any difference, because pollen can blow in from hundreds of miles away. But what you plant in your own yard most likely will make all the difference in the world. With pollen allergies, everything is in the actual dose received. If you have a headache and take two aspirin it will be just fine, but if you take twenty or thirty aspirin it will be terrible. It is the same thing with exposure to allergenic pollen; a small amount of pollen might well actually even be good for you, it would probably stimulate your immune system. But a very large overdose of pollen will quickly make many people ill. The closer you are to the source of the pollen, the greater your exposure will be.

A large pollinating tree will shed most of its pollen right next to the tree itself. The largest amount of this pollen will be found within a few dozen feet (or less) of the drip line of the tree. If the tree makes allergenic pollen, then those who live closest to this tree will get the biggest dose, the overdose. Yes, some of this pollen may drift on down the block, but exposure next to the tree may easily be well more than a hundred times greater than it would be a few houses away. Allergy researchers call this phenomena “proximity pollinosis.”

You can understand proximity pollinosis by imagining cigar smoke. If someone is a block away from you, smoking a cigar, you might get exposed to a very small amount of secondhand smoke. However, your exposure would be so slight that you might not even notice. The opposite would be the case if you got onto an elevator and someone inside lit up that same fat, smelly cigar. Ah, now indeed you’d be exposed to it. This is locality, and this is the exact same principle that is at work with proximity pollinosis.

Everyone Has a “Bucket”

It is well understood by many allergists that if someone is allergic to, say, six things, and three of them are removed, then the sufferer will often become symptom-free. This is an important insight. By creating an allergy-free yard, you will have eliminated the closest, most intense sources of what ails you. Even though your body will contact some allergens from outside your own area of control, your symptoms will probably diminish and sometimes they’ll disappear. This leads us to the bucket theory of allergy.

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