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Common sense tells you to steer clear of the things you're allergic to.

However, in the real world it's often impossible to avoid the substances that trigger your allergy symptoms. You can't control whether the plants you're allergic to occupy your city parks and commercial areas. However, you can control what you plant and limit allergens in your own yard.

In fact, with a little research and effort, you can create the yard you want while reducing the amount of pollen in your environment. This new concept in gardening helps you avoid pollen by eliminating its source. In other words, select only plants from one of the following groups:

Plants that produce large, very showy, lightly scented flowers. Plants that require insects to crawl inside them to collect pollen (such as snapdragon flowers) are best because a minimum of pollen is released into the air.

Female-only plants, which create no pollen at all. Only plants with male characteristics create pollen. By reducing or eliminating plants with male characteristics, you can help create a pollen-free yard.

HOW TO GET STARTED

STEP 1: Find out what triggers your allergy symptoms. The easiest way is to consult your doctor. If pollen is a trigger, you may want to consider reducing the allergens in your yard.

STEP 2: Log onto www.allegra.com/opals.jsp for our FREE plant-allergen scale. You can use this scale to rate the allergen producing potential of the plants in your yard.

STEP 3: Find the allergen-free plants that appeal to you. Take note of the characteristics of each, such as climate and water requirements, size, flower, and color.

STEP 4: Remove offending plants from your yard and replace them with plants that produce low levels of pollen or none at all. You may wish to consult a qualified landscape professional to help with your low-allergen landscape.

It's often said that prevention is the best medicine. By replacing allergen-producing plants with allergen-free plants, you'll be taking preventative measures to help reduce your seasonal allergy symptoms.

HOW TO SUBSTITUTE PLANTS

When selecting plants you would like to use in your yard, their appearance and potential for producing allergens are only two of the many factors to bear in mind. Other things to consider include...

Climate, exposure, and water requirements. Does the plant flourish in hot summer climates? Should it be planted in direct sunlight or in shade? Will you need to water it daily?

Root system. Plants with aggressive root systems shouldn't be planted near sidewalks, driveways, or house foundations. Others may thrive in poor or rocky soils.

Growth rate. Fast-growing plants may be used temporarily until other, more desirable plants mature.

RECOMMENDED READING

Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Leo Ogren

RECOMMENDED WEBSITES

www.allergyfree-gardening.com www.allegra.com

BELOW: An example of an allergen-producing plant and its suggested low-allergen replacement.

SHASTA DAISYAllergen-producing PERIWINKLELow-allergen

All material on low allergen gardening is adapted from Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Leo Ogren, copyright 1999 and shall not be reprinted or reproduced without the express written permission of the author.

ALG-WS-4369-1

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