Move Dirt & Mess Up the Air

Weeds: Friend & Foe

If you take a favorable view on Mother Nature’s handiwork, you could believe that weeds aren’t really a problem. After all, a hardy plant doing its best to grow wherever it finds itself has to be respected at least a little, even if it doesn’t grow in nice pots on a porch or lockstep in a garden row. Weeds can nourish the soil and prevent erosion.

Even with this perspective, though, one has to admit to the fact that these flora can cause problems with the fauna that share the planet with them. It’s not simply that a plant is messing up a tidy lawn and offending our landscaping aesthetic either.

That plant could be sending us to the emergency room. Or affecting our mental health. Or creating breathing problems that cost a lot of money to resolve.

Pollen Counts Can Rise When You Dig

When you show up with a shovel or your landscaper tills the soil, weed seeds yawn, stretch, open their eyes and pour a cup of coffee. Then they report for duty, eager to do their job of spreading their particular flavor of love.

Disturbing the soil can create conditions necessary for germination. Like a tired teenager on Saturday morning, they may take a while to wake up, too. Ragweed seeds are very hardy, and like a hydra, some weeds will actually multiply if you hoe or till them because the parts can grow roots.

…seeds of common ragweed can survive nearly 40 years…

Linda Naeve, Iowa State University Extension & Outreach

Most Likely Sites for Problem Plants

Roll an excavator down a ramp off its trailer and it’s not likely to be long before ragweed, among other plants that produce allergenic pollen, is thriving in the broken soil. So, let’s look for earth-moving equipment, forgotten projects or land that only sees seasonal use:

  • Demolition sites
  • Construction zones
  • Ditches that have been scraped for weed control
  • Primitive parking lots
  • Mountain bike and jeep trails

Dodge That Dirt

Knowing where recently disturbed dirt is located can help you potentially avoid exposure to areas where there is likely to be a higher pollen count, particularly during the later parts of summer when weed allergy season is most active.

Dodge That Pollen

It may not always be possible to avoid disturbed soil, but you can prepare by understanding pollen counts, what they mean to you, and what advances in technology you can bring to bear on seasonal allergies. Read on!