This is a guest post by Carson Arthur
We spend all winter waiting for it…and for some of us, suffer miserably through it. I’m talking about summer. There is definitely an ugly side to our favourite season that we grin and bear! I’m talking about allergies, molds and mosquito bites. Don’t spend the entire summer inside hiding from what ails you…I’ve got solutions to all of the summer blues!
Any discussion about the ugly side of summer HAS to include mosquitos. These pesky little biters will travel up to 2 kms for a meal. As a landscaper and an active gardener, they seem to like me more than my friends. I’m always outside working which doesn’t help because mosquitos are attracted to body heat and the carbon dioxide from heavy breathing. Also not in my favour, mosquitos love to rest inside of the garage where its cool and dark…and the storage spot for all of my tools!
Deet has been the gold standard for repelling these biters but if you want a homeopathic option safe enough for infants under the age of one or even the family dog, try Mozi-Q (it’s an oral bug repellant that you chew!). I started using this plant-based product in 2013 when I was at the cottage. I still got a few bites, but I didn’t get the red welts. I also got significantly less bites than my guests. Recently, I discovered that other biting bugs like black flies also seemed to be avoiding me. As featured on Dragon’s Den this is definitely my secret weapon this summer when I’m outdoors.
I learned recently that a lot of allergy problems have nothing to do with your sinuses. Many allergy sufferers have reactions because of an imbalanced immune system in the gut (Pascoe Canada) Allergic reactions are an over reaction of your body’s immune system and how it deals with foreign bodies entering through the lungs, skin or eyes. This can be more common in people with low levels of healthy bacteria in their guts. Allergies also impact people who have excess acidity or unbalanced pH levels. Often taking a sodium bicarbonate supplement with potassium helps with allergies, or if you are pill-adverse, you can increase your greens with foods like celery and spinach.
Avoiding pollens and allergens always works too. Here are some simple solutions for you to try
- Garden in the morning when pollen counts are at their lowest
- Wear long sleeved clothing to avoid skin contact
- Garden after a heavy downpour as the pollen is washed away – but beware the light rain showers. They just stir the pollen up!
- Don’t plant Maples or Oaks and go with flowering fruit trees instead
- Beware the ornamental grasses like ryes and fescues. They are the culprits for summer allergies next to ragweed.
When it comes to products, my favourite is a homeopathic solution called Pascallerg. This product helps fight allergic reactions by helping modify the immune system. Not only did it reduce the severity of my personal symptoms, it also reduced the frequency of my allergic reactions. Summer allergies that I’ve always had are getting less severe because my immune system is better able to handle them. I also love that it’s safe for children as young as 1 year of age.
We’ve all heard that mold in the home is extremely hazardous to our health, but did you know that mold occurs outdoors as well? Our gardens and backyards are actually a great breeding space for molds that are inhaled via mold spores. Our immune systems deal with these mold spores just like an allergy, with watery eyes, sneezing and congestion. We often blame pollen when in fact our bodies are reacting to the mold spores outdoors. Mold spores are excellent at traveling. In fact, if one piece of fruit in the bowl has mold, then all of the fruit will have spores on them.
One of the best spots for mold to grow is in our mulch. For years, we’ve been putting mulch around our flowerbeds to prevent weeds but to also hold the moisture in the ground on the hot sunny days. We also rely on mulch to breakdown into the soil below, naturally adding nutrients for our plants. This decomposition happens because of mold! Mulch is a perfect food source and mold loves to be kept warm and wet. Just watering the garden in the summer promotes mold growth. Prevent this mold growth by making sure your mulch completely dries out between waterings.
Another big issue with mold around the yard is the black staining that occurs on composite decks, plastic furniture, even on the house siding. Pressure-wash it all you want, it’s almost impossible to get those stains out. I found a great new product that worked really well for me. Called Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser, this product is so easy to use. Simply mix the entire container as per the instructions and spread/spray directly on the stained areas. Safe for kids, pets and your plants, Concrobium Mold Stain Eraser doesn’t even need to be scrubbed-in to effectively remove the mold stains.
Summer is supposed to be worth waiting for. This year, try some of my easy solutions and make the most of your outdoors. Avoid the ugly side of allergies, molds and mosquitos and fill every single day with enough memories to make it through another winter…especially if it was like the last one!
Carson Arthur is an international landscape designer with a focus on environmentally friendly design. His newest series, Critical Listing, teaches homeowners how to raise the value of their homes through outdoor renovations. He is part of the Cityline team; writes a column for Huffington Post about outdoor design and appears regularly in a variety of magazines with guest articles. He is the North American outdoor expert for Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate and the outdoor guest expert on the Shopping Channel.
His credits include; the host of HGTV’s Green Force; the Gemini nominated Room to Grow on Global and the Discovery network; and Better Home’s and Garden’s Home, First Home on the Hallmark Channel in the U.S. Currently, Carson’s programs can be seen on every continent in the world. He is also the author of the sold out book Garden Designs for Outdoor Living.