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?


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 - 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


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.


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






More Shrubs Questions

Native plants for sandy soil and not much water
April 14, 2008 - I am planning a new garden at home and would like to grow native plants that can handle sandy soil and don't need much water. I do not water my gardens.I would prefer plants that can have more than o...
view the full question and answer

Plant to cover retaining wall in Carlisle PA
August 01, 2010 - I have a block retaining wall in my back yard. I need to find a quick growing plant that will grow through late summer into fall and cover the wall with limited sunlight.
view the full question and answer

Small shrub with thorns for Austin
February 08, 2010 - I'm looking for a shade-tolerant 2-3' shrub with thorns, native to Texas (ideally central Texas) - an alternative to Barberry? Does such a plant exist?
view the full question and answer

Information about Melochia tomentosa
October 19, 2012 - Hi, We have a plant in our garden that was received as Melochia tomentosa. It is a woody shrub, about 6' tall and 8' wide. According to the Institute for Regional Conservation, this species is no...
view the full question and answer

Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010 - I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center