PLYMOUTH, Minnesota — Love to get your hands dirty, but your allergies keep you out of the garden?

Suffering from outdoor allergies doesn’t mean you have to skip your green pastime. Experts say if you aren’t already taking your allergy medication, start them about a week before you plan to be in the garden.

Dr. Pramod Kelkar, a board-certified allergy specialist with Allina Health, explains timing really is everything. Be sure to check the pollen counts before you head outside. Rainy days can be better for allergy sufferers because pollen tends to get washed away. And, do avoid hot, breezy days when pollen counts tend to be highest.

There are lots of beautiful plants, shrubs, and trees that release very little pollen. So, it’s important that gardeners do their research before they buy. Experts say native plants have already adapted to our climate. Non-native plants tend to struggle more and, in turn, release more pollen. And, if you're planting trees, ask for a female tree, because most pollen comes from male trees.

Allergy sufferers should also remember to wear long sleeves and long pants, a hat to keep pollen out of your hair and sunglasses to help keep pollen out of your eyes. Also, avoid touching your eyes or face when doing yard work. Do wear a mask to help reduce the amount of pollen you breathe in. Leave gardening tools, gloves, and shoes outside to avoid bringing allergens indoors. Finally, experts agree showering immediately after gardening can also help reduce symptoms. For more tips for finding allergy relief, click here.

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