Spring is well known for its barrage of pollens that leave allergy suffers sneezing, sniffling, wheezing, and scratching away at their red, itchy eyes. As spring fades into summer, most people’s allergies die down, but for those with grass allergies, this may not be the case.
Grass allergies vary depending on where you live in the country. Here’s a look at grass pollination times by region.
• Southwest: Bermuda kicks off grass-pollination season in April and continues to “spread the love” through August. Meadow Fescue and Rye grass typically join the frenzy in May, pollinating through June. Bahia, Johnson, and Timothy kick up after that. Most grasses are done pollinating by July—just in time for ragweed to wreak havoc. But that’s a story for another article.
• Northwest: Kentucky Bluegrass, Meadow Fescue, and Rye start pollinating in May. Brome, Johnson, Orchard, and Timothy join in in June.
• South Central: States like Texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Louisiana, and more experience the same grass pollens as the Southwest region, but everything is pushed back a month. Grasses start pollinating in May and continue as late as October (in the case of Bermuda grass).
• Midwest: The Midwest mirrors the pollination patterns of the South Central region.
• Southeast: The Southeast is similar to the Southwest, with Bermuda grass pollens filling the air as early as April. Bahia, Johnson, Kentucky Bluegrass, Meadow Fescue, Rye, and Timothy come alive in May and June but die down by August. Bermuda may continue to pollinate through September.
• Northeast: Grass pollens here are released in May and subside by September. Neither Bahia nor Brome grasses are grown here. Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, Meadow Fescue, Rye, and Timothy cause the worst allergies. Johnson pollinates from June to August but does not tend to be as allergenic as other grasses.
Avoiding grass pollens
If grass pollens make you miserable, avoid mowing the lawn. That doesn’t mean you should let your lawn go, though. If you keep it trimmed short, it is less likely to pollinate than taller grass. If allergies keep you from mowing, delegate the job to another family member or hire a professional mowing service. You should also watch the pollen count and stay indoors when it is at its highest.
Treating grass allergies
If grass allergies are impinging on your quality of life, see a doctor. Your doctor can order an allergy test kit and measure your reactions to grasses in your region. This can usually be accomplished with a blood draw or skin-scratch test.
Your doctor can then prescribe sublingual immunotherapy (allergy drops) or subcutaneous immunotherapy (allergy shots) to help desensitize you to grass allergens. Once you have built up immunity to the grass pollens, your body will learn to ignore them instead of overreacting to them in ways that lead to symptoms.