It is estimated by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy that two in every five of us suffer from hay fever or some type of environmental allergy. If you are one of this group you may feel that doing away with your lawn will limit your exposure and symptoms, but that may not be necessary.
Many allergies and hay fever is caused by the pollen that plants release into the air, so reducing the pollen amounts will help to reduce the effects.
Typically cool climate grasses such as Rye and Bermuda grasses fill the atmosphere with large amounts of pollen and since they are also wind pollinators, mowing will disturb the pollen sending it up into the air. Grass varieties such as buffalo produce a lot less pollen, as do native Australian grasses such as kangaroo grass, wallaby grass, weeping grass and red grass so they make a much better choice for allergy sufferers.
Some tips to reduce the effects of lawn allergies:
- Plant a low pollen producing variety of grass.
- Wear a mask whilst mowing or have someone else undertake this job for you. Use a mower with a catcher to catch both grass clippings and the disturbed pollen.
- Don’t use a leaf blower if possible, as it will disturb even more pollen. If you do choose to use one, wear a mask, keep the windows and doors of your house closed and never blow towards the house. Pollen is so small that it will pass straight through door and window screenings.
- Some research suggests that some varieties of lawn produce more pollen when under stress, so ensure that your lawn is well maintained, well fertilised, mowed regularly and watered infrequently but deeply.
Pollen will not only come from the grass plants, but from surrounding trees and plants and here’s where things get interesting. When pollen falls on smooth surfaces such as rooves, decks and large leaves, it doesn’t actually stay there for long. The next decent gust of wind will pick up the pollen and send it into the air again. But when pollen falls on the millions of long, narrow leaves that make up your lawn they then fall down between the leaves to the ground and are trapped there, stopping the pollen from spreading through the air and affecting eyes and noses of allergy sufferers. With rain or watering the pollen will be sent further and further down to the soil where it will stay. In fact, an average sized lawn will remove hundreds of millions of grains of pollen each year from the air and it will trap much more pollen than it will ever produce over its lifetime.
Some more considerations for allergies in the lawn:
Weeds such as asthma weed or pellitory can infiltrate your lawn and cause allergies. These weeds grow to around 40cms, have sticky leaves and have spread from the usual home around Sydney, Wollongong and Newcastle to be found now in Brisbane and the surrounds. These weeds can be effectively treated using Glyphosate.
Mould spores can also cause a lot of problems for allergy sufferers. Often found in very damp or shaded parts of the lawn, moulds can usually be dug out of the lawn, but a mask and gloves should be worn whilst doing so if you are an allergy sufferer.
By reducing the spread of pollen and installing the right variety of turf you can still enjoy a lush, green lawn minus the allergy symptoms.