Now that it's springtime, your customers are probably chomping at the bit to get out and about in their yards to enjoy your hard work. But there could be one major thing stopping them from strolling the lawn: allergies.
Seasonal allergies can wreak havoc on customers who enjoy their outdoor spaces, but what if you could help them out with a few replacement plants for some common pollen producers?
Ragweed (Ambrosia spp.)
Even though most people aren’t growing ragweed on purpose, it does tend to show up in the landscape unexpectedly. The unfortunate thing is, there’s really no place in the U.S. it won’t grow. As the main cause of hay fever, all species of ragweed can cause strong allergic reactions. To its credit, ragweed can be pretty when it blooms in late summer and fall, so if your customers like how it looks but don’t want to suffer the reactions that accompany it, it might be time to find a replacement.
Contrary to popular belief, goldenrod (Solidago spp.) was blamed for years as the cause of seasonal allergies, but it’s since been proved that
goldenrod pollen is carried off by insects and is no more likely to cause allergies than most other plants recommended to those who suffer from hay fever. Goldenrods enjoy soils that are less rich and hardly need any care once they are established, and they can also attract butterflies and birds. They thrive best in full sun to partial shade and require moderate watering. Natives can reach up to 8 feet in height, while hybrids are usually smaller.
Another option for those who still don’t believe the non-allergy information about goldenrods can opt for daylilies (Hemerocallis hybrids). These perennial beauties still offer the pop of yellow your customers might crave and take almost no effort to grow. They typically grow to be about 2 ½ to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide. Most will bloom in late spring and early summer, and they should be planted wherever the ground can be worked. They do best in soil that is well-drained, and they need regular watering from spring through autumn.
Wisteria (Wisteria floribunda, W. chinensis)
There’s no denying that wisteria is extremely eye-catching and adds a certain romantic feeling to an area, but if your customers are allergic to it, they won’t be spending any time outside actually enjoying it. Wisteria pollen is a well-known trigger of hay fever, and sometimes even just pruning or touching the plant can cause reactions to the skin.
If your customers want to keep that same pretty purple coloring in their yard, consider substituting with evergreen clematis (Clematis armandii) or clematis hybrids. These vines will thrive in full sun to partial shade, and evergreen clematis hybrids can grow up to 15 to 20 inches tall, while deciduous ones can reach up to 6 to 10 feet tall. Most types of clematis will need sun for about five to six hours, but they won’t appreciate getting too hot. They should be planted in loose soil that drains fast.
Oak trees (Quercus spp.)
Oak trees grow all across the U.S. and they make their pollen in the spring. Most people are allergic to oak pollen, and there’s probably a fair
amount of this pollen in the air due to the fact that these trees are very common in parks and residential areas. This has the potential to cause serious reactions in some people.
Instead of oaks, consider substituting for flowering dogwoods (Cornus florida). These trees are gorgeous once they begin to bloom, and their flowers can either be white or pink. These trees have a four-season appeal, as they produce pretty flowers in the spring, nice foliage in the summer and fall, colorful fruit in the fall and an interesting growth habit for winter interest. They prefer acidic, well-drained soil that contains a large amount of organic matter.
Cedar (Cedrus spp.)
Cedar is a wide type, as there are about 70 different kinds of both trees and bushes, including juniper and cypress, and some of them have been known to cause serious allergies. It’s hard to know which ones are causing your specific allergies sometimes because there are so many types, and their pollen season is fairly long. It begins in January and some bushes and trees can continue to make pollen until May or June.
Instead of cedar, consider substituting with rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). Rosemary is both fragrant and handy in the kitchen, which makes it a double bonus for your customers who enjoy cooking. This plant can be upright, weeping, creeping or bushy, so it has the potential to fit in a variety of spaces in the yard. Typically, they can reach a height of 1 to 8 feet and they spread easily. It’s easy to shape and also has the added appeal of attracting hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
Bermuda grass (Cynodon dactylon)
Bermuda grass pollen is more than likely a cause of many seasonal allergies, and unfortunately, this grass is in high supply when it comes in. It’s typically found in many warmer states and is very often planted in front yards, which means it will come in contact with many people and pets. When the grass blades reach about a half-inch high, it will make pollen, and it will grow for most of the year.
Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis)
Kentucky bluegrass is found in most Southern, Northern and Western states, but it grows best in the cooler regions north of Georgia and west of Texas. In the summer months especially is when pollen from this type of grass can cause serious allergies, as there’s more of it to be found.
For customer wanting to enjoy their front yards while avoiding the plague of sneezing, St. Augustine (Stenotaphrum secundatum) grass could be a viable substitute. This grass type is salt-tolerant and does extremely well in subtropical, humid areas. With beautiful blue-green color, this grass grows well in a variety of soils as long as they are well-drained. This grass is also tolerant of extremely high temperatures and low moisture, and it can retain its color longer than other warm-season grasses when it’s exposed to cool temperatures.