I’ve always got hay fever in the summer since I was a kid – and it’s mostly the grass pollen that makes my symptoms flare up (although I’ve recently discovered tree pollen is also an issue). So when is grass pollen at its worst?
The grass hay fever season is between May and August depending upon where you live. During this time, grass pollen counts are at their highest from dawn until about ten a.m., then again at dusk. Rain can reduce the amount of pollen released by grass during the hay fever season.
Join me in this article to discover more about grass pollen, the grass hay fever season – and how we can prevent and treat grass pollen allergies…
What is The Grass Pollen Season?
The grass pollen season is the time of year when the grass pollen count is at its highest.
This is typically from late spring until late summer. Unfortunately for folks with grass pollen allergies, this is a pretty long season.
Pollen is the fine, power-like substance produced by plants to reproduce. It’s moved around either by insects or by the breeze, and naturally, there’s more in the air during pollination periods (described as a “high pollen count”). For grass, this tends to be between May and August.
The hay fever year kicks off with the tree pollen season, which can be as early as February. Then, we have the grass pollen season, and finally in the fall, weed pollen.
Hay fever can be unpleasant for the sufferer, and can even feel like a permanent, nasty cold. We’ll look at ways to reduce exposure to pollen and a few treatments later on: although please bear in mind, we’re not medical, allergy, or pharmacological experts.
What Time of Year is Grass Pollen Highest?
The grass pollen season typically begins in around May (of course, this can vary between zones) and runs until late August. The weed pollen season then takes over. In the warmer southern states, pollination seasons can be longer.
Different grasses also have slightly different pollination seasons. If you know what type of grass you have on your lawn, you can be prepared in advance for high pollen times. The main culprits are: Bermuda, Johnson, Kentucky, Orchard, Rye, Sweet Vernal, and Timothy.
Want to know more about pollen and seasonal allergies? Here’s a useful month-by-month guide to allergies, and this short film explains more about pollen.
What Times of Day is Grass Pollen The Worst?
Pollen tends to be at its highest from dawn until about ten a.m., then again at dusk. If you’re out during these times during the pollen season, you can always wear a face mask.
Of course, being outside in the middle of the way has its own risks: you’ll escape the worst of the pollen, but you’ll definitely need to guard against that stronger UV!
Does Rain Reduce Pollen?
Rain can reduce pollen; however, this depends on the type of rain. Plants prefer not to release their pollen on rainy days. This is because the rain simply washes the pollen out of the air, and it can’t float on the breeze to pollinate other areas. The wise plants know this, and try to stick to sunny days.
But… if there’s a thunderstorm, the humidity in the air may actually cause the pollen grains to burst open, resulting in a very high pollen count. Ever noticed that you feel worse during a summer storm? That’s why.
What Are The Symptoms of Grass Pollen Hay Fever?
There are a few symptoms of grass pollen hay fever, and they can feel similar to having a cold. The main symptoms are:
- A runny nose
- A blocked, stuffy nose
- Nose, eyes, mouth, and ears can feel itchy
- Your face becomes swollen around the eyes
- Watery and red eyes
How Long Does Grass Hay Fever Last?
Sorry to be the bearers of bad news: grass pollen hay fever will last as long as the grass pollen season does. The length of the grass pollen season can vary depending on whereabouts you live (it can be longer in warmer climates); however, typically, it can last from late May until late July or even August.
This is one of the main ways you can tell the difference between a cold and hay fever: if your symptoms have alleviated within two weeks, it’s a bad cold. If they are sticking around and not getting any better, the chances are you have hay fever. It’s not uncommon to develop hay fever later in life, and at first, you may think you’ve picked up a summer cold.
But, don’t worry. There are measures you can take to avoid the worst of the pollen, and there are also medications you can buy over the counter that help to relieve the main symptoms of pollen hay fevers.
Which Antihistamine is Best For Grass Pollen?
Histamine is the chemical found in some of our body’s cells, and it’s responsible for setting off many of the allergy symptoms that we experience. Naturally, the main treatment for grass pollen hay fever symptoms is an antihistamine.
You can buy antihistamines called cetirizine (brand name Zyrtec), fexofenadine (brand name Allegra), and loratadine (known by Alavert or Claritin) over the counter without first seeing your doctor.
If you have a severe allergy or these common over-the-counter antihistamines aren’t helping, go and talk to your doctor. They can prescribe a stronger treatment, or even start you on a course of immunotherapy.
As we mentioned earlier, we’re yard fanatics and gardeners not medics; and if you’re concerned in any way about your hay fever symptoms, please see your doc.
What Foods Should You Avoid if You Have Allergies To Grasses?
Histamine, that chemical that causes hay fever symptoms, is present in some foods. So, if you have a pollen allergy, there are a few foods you need to avoid. This varies between the three main types of pollen allergy.
If you have a grass pollen allergy, avoid fruit like oranges, melon, tomatoes, peaches and figs. Celery can also trigger a response, often described as an itchy mouth. The reason for this is that these foods have proteins that resemble pollen, and your body is basically tricked into believing that you’ve just taken a nice big mouthful of grass pollen.
How Do You Prevent Grass Pollen Allergies?
You can’t prevent hay fever, but there’s plenty you can do to alleviate the symptoms. Here’s a few things you can try to prevent grass pollen allergy symptoms:
- Keep an eye on the pollen forecast, and try to be indoors as much as possible on high pollen count days
- If you can be indoors with the air con on and the windows closed, even better
- Keep your lawn short to reduce the pollen. It may be a good idea to ask someone else to mow it for you…
- If there’s mowing going on in your neighborhood, close your windows
- Shower before bed, to remove the pollen dust from your hair before it hits the pillow
- Wash your clothes daily if you’ve been outside
- Then dry them in the dryer, not on the line. We know: line dried clothes smell so good and save energy; however, those flapping garments and sheets act as pollen catchers
- Dress for the pollen count. Long pants, shades, and a hat will help prevent the pollen from clinging to you
- Prevent pollen from entering your home by leaving outdoor shoes by the door
- Vacuum your carpets and area rugs more during the grass pollen season
- If they let you, wipe your pets’ paws after they’ve been running on the lawn. We appreciate that this will be next to impossible with cats. Have a mat by the door or the kitty door, which will hopefully catch some of the particles from their paws, and regularly vacuum it
- And of course, you can seek treatment. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about what treatments are available for grass pollen allergy symptoms
As someone who has experienced hay fever from grass pollen all their life – I’ve come to realize it’s something you have to live with.
Throughout the grass pollen season between May and August, for me it’s always a case of trying to prevent my hayfever symptoms – then treat them quickly if my nose and eyes start to itch.
Thank goodness for antihistamine tablets that’s all I can say. 🙂
Homeowner and property investor Larry James founded Take a Yard in 2020 to bring you the very best outdoor living content, based on his years of experience managing outside spaces. Read more >