Rent Shop Volunteer Join

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?

Share

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 - March 23, 2011

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

QUESTION:

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!!

ANSWER:

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

 

 

 

 

More Trees Questions

Different kinds of plants living in subarctic areas
March 10, 2008 - What are the different kinds of plants live in the subarctic areas?
view the full question and answer

Corkscrew willow damage to roof in Detroit, MI.
August 13, 2009 - I have a corkscrew willow (Detroit, MI) that is huge and whose branches hang on top of the asphalt shingles of my mobile home. It has now been discovered that these shingles, under the branches, are ...
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

Use of fresh clippings from tree trimmers for mulch in Austin
May 02, 2010 - Hi, The tree trimmers are in my neighborhood (east central Austin) to clear the power lines and said I can have a load of free mulch. I am wondering if there is any harm in using the fresh mulch from...
view the full question and answer

Looking for a plant to use as a windbreak for a small orchard in Pineville LA.
February 28, 2011 - We are looking for a good plant to use as a wind break for our small fruit orchard.
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.