En Español

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Wednesday - August 20, 2008

From: Ellaville , GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Evergreen shrubs as dust barrier in Georgia
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Mr. Smarty Plants, I live on a dirt road in West Central Georgia. Could you recommend a fast growing, low maintenance evergreen shrub or small tree (that will not harm my horses or goats) that will form a barrier to block the dust from the dirt road? I have about 15 feet of space between the fence and the road.


The dual needs of being evergreen and being non-toxic to horses and goats limited the choice pretty sharply. We found two shrubs that filled these requirements and one tree that could be left untrimmed at the base to help with the dust shelter. We have chosen plants native to Georgia, because they will be well-adapted to the environment, requiring less water, fertilizer and maintenance.

Gordonia lasianthus (loblolly bay)  

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle)

Magnolia grandiflora (southern magnolia)

None of these plants appeared on the following poisonous plant databases:

Poisonous Plants of Georgia

Cornell University Poisonous Plants Informational Database

University of Pennsylvania's Poisonous Plants Database

Texas Toxic Plants Database

One more caution on the plants you are considering. It sounds like they will be out in the country, probably without access to watering. Don't try to plant them until late Winter, when woody plants are most dormant. Even then, the new little plants are going to need some water and some attention. Hopefully, it will be rainy in Georgia then, and you won't have to make special arrangements; however, have alternative plans in place in case you hit a dry Winter.


From the Image Gallery

Gordonia lasianthus

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

More Shrubs Questions

Need evergreen, drought tolerant shrubs to plant next to driveway along property line in Austin, TX.
February 23, 2011 - Just moved to Austin, TX. What evergreen, drought tolerant shrubs could I plant by driveway, full sun, next to neighbors lawn. I don't want to mow, space is 3.5 ft. wide by 15ft. long. I thought ab...
view the full question and answer

Yellow-blossomed Shrub that Occurs in Arizona and Texas
May 08, 2012 - What is the name of the large shrubs you will see in Arizona with the bright yellow blossoms. They grow wild everywhere, and I also see them in the town. Could you please tell me the name of them, s...
view the full question and answer

Flowering shrub for Kihei, Hawaii
August 12, 2015 - I live in Kihei Hawaii, near the beach but across the road from it. I am looking for a hedge that flowers, can be trimmed is dense and grows rather quickly. 3-4ft in height. We have bougainvillia now ...
view the full question and answer

Damaged leaves on bottlebrush buckeye from Glen Mills PA
June 09, 2013 - My recently planted bottlebrush buckeye plants' leaves are looking damaged but it doesn't look like insect or fungus damage. They look battered by wind but I don't understand why that would happen...
view the full question and answer

Yellowing of leaves in Texas Mountain Laurel from Austin
June 25, 2012 - I planted a Texas Mountain Laurel in my Austin, TX yard this January. The tree was good sized (about 5 feet tall) when I planted it. Recently the leaves of the tree have started to turn yellow alon...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center