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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.

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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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Sunday - July 28, 2013

From: Dobbins, CA
Region: California
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Shrub to scrren house from dust from gravel road
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

HI: We live in the foothills of Dobbins, California (2 hours North of Sacramento, Ca). I live on a gravel dirt road with traffic that goes about 45 miles an hour. When they drive by our house it looks like something is on fire the dust is so thick. What can I plant to help catch and block the dust. We have dogs, chickens, and a free-range goat so I didn't want to plant an oleander but that's the size Im hoping whatever I plant will get. Thanks...

ANSWER:

Below are three evergreen shrubs/small trees that grow in Yuba County, California or in an adjacent county.  Any one of these should work well as a screen between your house and the dusty road.  Please check our National Suppliers Directory for nurseries that specialize in native plants in your area.

Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar) is a dense evergreen tree that can be used as an effective hedge.  Here are photos and more information from Las Pilitas Nursery in Escondido and Santa Margarita, California and Missouri Botanical Garden.

Adenostoma fasciculatum (Chamise) is an evergreen shrub that can grow to 10 feet and makes an excellent screening plant.   Here is more information from Las Pilitas Nursery and Plants for a Future.

Cercocarpus ledifolius (Curl-leaf mountain mahogany) is evergreen and grows to 15 feet.  Here is more information from Southwest Colorado Wildflowers and from Las Pilitas Nursery.

 California Poison Control System list of Non-Toxic and Toxic Plants "Know Your Plants!" shows Calocedrus decurrens (Incense cedar) listed as being a dermal irritant—"Skin contact with these plants can cause symptoms ranging from redness, itching, and rash to painful blisters like skin burns."  None of the other plants are on the California Poison Control System list.

 

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