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

Sunday - March 15, 2009

From: Topeka, KS
Region: Midwest
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Fast-growing shrub or tree to block dust from dirt road
Answered by: Nan Hampton


I live on a dirt road in Northeast Kansas. Could you recommend a fast growing, low maintenance shrub/bush or small tree that will form a barrier to block the dust from the dirt road? It will be planted along a chainlink fence. Thanks


Here are several possibilities for shrubs and small trees to help with your dust problem.

Euonymus atropurpureus (burningbush) and more information from Illinois Wildflowers

Physocarpus opulifolius (common ninebark)

Salix humilis (prairie willow)

Cornus drummondii (roughleaf dogwood)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Juniperus virginiana (eastern redcedar) can grow into a large tree (>40 feet) and is not particularly fast-growing, but it will form a dense shrub if planted close together and pruned.  It is also evergreen.

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum)

You can find more possibilities by doing a COMBINATION SEARCH in our Native Plant Database selecting 'Kansas' from the Select State or Province option and either 'Shrub' or 'Tree' from the Habitat (general appearance) option.

Euonymus atropurpureus

Physocarpus opulifolius

Salix humilis

Cornus drummondii

Juniperus virginiana

Morus rubra

Prunus angustifolia



More Shrubs Questions

Groundcovers & Shrubs for Shade in North Carolina
April 30, 2013 - Mr Smarty Pants, My neighbor planted cypress trees as a border between his yard and ours and it is sucking up every drop of water and nutrient. We also have a purple plum in the area which creates ...
view the full question and answer

When is the best time to transplant Esperanza bushe in Buda, TX?
September 04, 2013 - When is the best time to transplant an Esperanza bush? I want to move it because it is overwhelming my front yard. Thank you,
view the full question and answer

Thorny shrub to use as a barrier in Michigan
June 12, 2010 - What shrub/bush/tree would you recommend that grows fast, very thorny to act as a very strong deterrent/barrier that gets at least 4' tall? It would be in an open yet removed area from foot traffic ...
view the full question and answer

Pruning buttonbush from Pottsville PA
December 10, 2013 - In a formally planted park, a small area has become swampy. I have choosen to plant it with wet tolerant native plants. I would appreciate any suggestions on pruning the buttonbush [Cephalanthus occ...
view the full question and answer

Native plants for screen in Colleyville TX
March 12, 2009 - My soil is pure sand that goes down as far as I can dig. I am needing native plants to use as a screen, that grow to be 6-10 ft. tall. Also, since my plantings dry out so quickly, would it be helpfu...
view the full question and answer

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