En EspaŅol

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
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
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

Dormancy in Pin Oaks without water in Del Rio, TX
August 02, 2011 - Can Pin Oak trees go dormant without enough water? If so how long can they live that way? Can they be brought back to producing leaves? If yes, then what do I need to do besides giving them water. I d...
view the full question and answer

Care of Live Oaks
July 11, 2012 - We have Two Young Live Oaks in the front of Our home. We had them treated for insects, ect. Now what can we do to make them Full Green and Happy Happy Happy again.Thank You
view the full question and answer

Premature leaf drop on Red Maple in Kentucky
June 25, 2008 - I have a ten foot Red Maple tree that has been set out for 4 years. Its leaves have slowly turned colors until it currently looks like fall. The leaves are not falling off nor is there yet any s...
view the full question and answer

Insect damage on possumhaw
August 12, 2012 - We planted a small possumhaw in February of this year (2012). It had leaves and some berries and was doing real well until some bug starting eating the leaves and berries. I know it is not deer becau...
view the full question and answer

Survivors of a Cedar Elm thicket thinning.
April 12, 2013 - I thinned a thicket of cedar elm saplings, but a few are now leaning excessively. Will they straighten up over time or should I go ahead and cut them too? Thanks!!
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center