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

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Wednesday - June 01, 2011

From: Laytonsville, MD
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Shrubs, Trees
Title: Plants to filter dust from a road in MD
Answered by: Anne Bossart

QUESTION:

I live in MD next to a dirt/gravel access road. I would like to plant something along my property line to block the clouds of dust we regularly get from cars and dirt bikes. Is there something fast growing and low maintenance that I can plant there? Thank you.

ANSWER:

The fastest growing and lowest maintenance plants are without question, large deciduous shrubs or small multistemmed trees.  They can take the abuse they receive next to a dirt road, put on a fresh coat of leaves every spring and have flowers and fruit to attract birds (and humans).

To begin the plant selection process you can search our Native Plant Database.  Do a Combination Search for Maryland, selecting: shrubs or trees/your conditions and size (6-12 feet or larger).  It will generate a list with links to detailed plant information pages.

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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