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Wednesday - March 23, 2011

From: Garrison, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Trees
Title: Trees for privacy and filtering dust in NY
Answered by: Anne Bossart


I live on a very busy, DUSTY, dirt road in Putnam County NY. (zip code 10524) What is the best, fast growing evergreen that I can use for dust control and privacy? I would prefer something that requires little or no maintenance and can hold up being planted very close to the road. My house is about 25 feet from the road. I would like to be able to open my front windows without road dust blowing in!!! Thank You!!


Are you sure you want an evergreen?

Fast growing is always a challenge as most fast growing plants don't live long and most evergreens will grow to be very large at the base, ultimately eating up much of the space between your house and the road or encroaching on the road allowance and any overhead power/telephone lines.  Many evergreens are not tolerant of winter road salt either.

So the only evergreen suggestion we could make would be Thuja occidentalis (Arborvitae) which is commonly known as cedar in the north.  The plants can be inexpensively obtained and planted close enough together to create a hedge that could be kept pruned.  If you have deer in your area, though, they will eat it bare as high as they can reach.

Seeing as how dust and privacy are not as much of a priority in the wintertime, why don't you consider multi-stemmed small deciduous trees or large shrubs?  Their branch structure and leaves would give you the privacy and dust (and noise) reduction you seek in the summertime.  They also could be planted in a more imaginative way than a green wall and could provide the added benefits of flowers for you and fruit for the birds.  Plus, you get a fresh set of leaves every spring!

Here are some small trees to consider:

Amelanchier laevis (Allegheny service-berry)

Cercis canadensis (Eastern redbud)

Cornus drummondii (Roughleaf dogwood)

Rhus typhina (Staghorn sumac)

Sassafras albidum (Sassafras)

and some large shrubs:

Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub)

Clethra alnifolia (Coastal sweet pepperbush)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Physocarpus opulifolius (Atlantic ninebark)

Viburnum dentatum (Southern arrowwood)

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American cranberry bush)

Using a combination of these plants you could have a "hedgerow" with flowers in spring and summer, fall colour, summer fragrance and the wildlife benefits of cover and food.  Plus it would meet the practical requirements of your situation.

Amelanchier laevis

Cercis canadensis

Cornus drummondii

Rhus typhina

Sassafras albidum

Calycanthus floridus

Clethra alnifolia

Ilex glabra

Physocarpus opulifolius

Viburnum dentatum

Viburnum opulus var. americanum





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