How to create a low allergen garden

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AUSTRALIAN NATIVES FOR LOW ALLERGY… Many large flowering Australian natives are good for allergy-sufferers, such as the banksia. Photo: Supplied.

IF you are part of the 20 percent of Australians who suffer from hay fever and allergies during spring, it may be time to consider creating a low allergen garden.

The hay fever season is now officially upon us but before we get too deep into spring, there is still a little bit of time to prepare against asthma, hay fever and allergy symptoms.

Here are just a few tips to help reduce the impact of gardening on asthma and hay fever:

  • Choose Australian native plants and brightly coloured, large flowering plants, as these are pollenated by the birds and bees, rather than the wind, as they don’t release pollen in the air. Australian plants like banksia, bottlebrush, firewheel tree and grevillea have sweet, honey-filled flowers that birds love, and are therefore appropriate for those who have asthma.
  • Other safe plants include camellia, azalea, lavender, citrus, impatiens, petunia and pansy.
  • Avoid plants with strong fragrances or odour (for example, jasmines), especially if planted near doors or windows. Exceptions to the fragrances rule include roses.
  • Other plants to avoid include grasses and weeds, conifers (including cypress), deciduous trees (including oak, liquidambar, maple, ash, birch, plane tree and poplar), plants with prickles or spines, plants that produce sap (including grevillea, silky oak, euphorbias, chrysanthemums and other daisies.
  • Choose native, low, no pollen or slow-growing grass that does not require frequent mowing.
  • Use inorganic mulches like pebbles or gravel to reduce weeds and mould spores.
  • Weed the garden often to avoid them seeding or flowering.
  • Avoid using compost heaps, as these attract mould.
  • Garden in the morning on cold, still days and avoid gardening on windy and hot days.