Attacked by Oak Pollen -- Duration? Tips for keeping yard clean?
March 22, 2013 9:34 AM   Subscribe

This is my second spring in my new house and once again, everything in our back yard is coated in green pollen from our Coastal Live Oak tree. I love this tree, so getting rid of it is not an option. I am looking for tips on how to best deal with the mess from this tree and curious how long this pollen dumping time will last.

On top of the allergies and mess, my dogs have started sneakily eating the catkins (the stringy male flower things) that fall on the ground. They do this when acorn season starts too. Some horrible dog farts have been happening, not sure if it is related. I have been trying to stop them but can't catch them every time.

Some websites say the pollen dump lasts 2 weeks, some say 2-3 months. What is correct? I can't seem to remember how long it lasted previously. I am in Southern California.

Do you live with a coastal live oak? If so:

How long will it last?

What is your routine for keeping your yard clean? I'm guessing hose, but we are constantly in a water crisis here and wondering if this leaf vacuum mulcher thingy that has a bag will work? Will it end up in a huge plume of pollen poofing out of the bag?

My husband is allergic to the pollen--do those allergy shots work?
posted by dottiechang to Home & Garden (7 answers total)
Fyi those are protected trees and you can also receive a pretty substantial fine for hosing down your yard most places in SoCal. Are you new to the area? Maybe consult neighbors but as I recall the pollen drop duration depends on the weather and is 2-4 weeks. Most people rake or sweep the detritus up.
posted by fshgrl at 9:52 AM on March 22, 2013

I can't speak to oak pollen, but prodigious amounts of yellow/green pine pollen are a regular part of springtime in Atlanta.

About the only remedy is to wait it out and hope for a thunderstorm to wash everything off and/or knock it out of the trees for an early end. One thing about the pine pollen was that, as nasty as it looks and feels all over everything, the individual pollen grains were too large to be considered allergenic.

If your husband has seasonal allergies related to pollen (as I do), OTC remedies like Claritin and Zyrtec work really well (for us, anyhow). If they're not getting it done, a visit to an allergist for stepped up treatments would be well worth the time.
posted by jquinby at 10:01 AM on March 22, 2013

Here in Louisiana the live oaks actively drop pollen for about two months. It seems like even longer because you see the pollen drifts all over the ground through the whole summer.
posted by vegartanipla at 10:06 AM on March 22, 2013

Thanks everybody. Zyrtec and Claritin have not been doing the job so I guess it is time to get an appointment with an allergist. The pollen avalanche is happening right outside our bedroom door, the door we use to get to where we park, so that is not very fun.

More than anything, I was curious about how long this messy/sneezy period will last. We love this beautiful tree, we just want to know how long we'll be sniffling for. ;)
posted by dottiechang at 11:19 PM on March 23, 2013

I tried the leaf vacuum today with comical consequences. The catch bag on the vac didn't catch the pollen like I thought and my husband, who is the super-allergic one, said I just trailed a huge green cloud as I walked around the yard vacuuming. He stayed indoors with the dogs and watched me from the window.

I thought the pollen would be coarser and stay in the filter bag thingy but I was wrong. At least the catkins are collected up off of the ground now. :P It made hosing off the remaining pollen very quick because the larger debris was gone from the patio.
posted by dottiechang at 12:38 AM on March 25, 2013

I've had enormous success with allergy shots once I found my crazy aggressive allergist (I'd had three years of ineffective shots before him, and in a year's time with this guy I was worlds better). His serums are super strong, my reaction sites regularly reach 4-5" in diameter, and I am now just mildly itchy and occasionally stuffed up in comparison to wanting to die from the middle of February through the middle of April.
posted by vegartanipla at 3:50 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Note that the allegra/zyrtec need to be started at least a couple weeks BEFORE the season even starts. and pollen amount and duration really depend on weather. I agree with 2-4 weeks (4 being an outlier).
posted by evening at 4:39 AM on March 27, 2013

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