Good Oak News

Friday, August 3, 2018

Native Plant Care After Planting

We are quite often providing our clients information on how to care for plants after we have installed them for them. I thought I'd post this information here to make it easier to share. These are the care instructions we require clients to follow in order to qualify for our plant warranty. As always, I may have gone into more detail than is necessary, but the key points to follow are highlighted in bold.

Perennial Care:

Native species will grow slowly at first since they are putting most of their energy into their substantial root systems.  Because of their substantial root systems native plants need no watering once they are established and are very hardy.  However, “baby” plants need a little more care to get established. Larger gallon-sized plants can often be showy in the first year they are planted, but smaller quart and 2.5" plug-sized plants will take at least a season to get established before they start to show off.

We recommend watering the plants extremely-heavily every-other day for the first two weeks after they are planted if mother nature doesn't take care of this for you. By "extremely-heavy", I mean you need to water them to the point that you are sure you are drowning the plants, then continue watering for a while longer! By doing this, you are saturating the soil column several feet down, and encouraging deep root growth to follow that water down into the soil. By taking a day off between these heavy waterings, you give the surface soil some time to dry out to be sure enough oxygen is getting to the roots to avoid rot and to promote optimal growth.

Be sure to avoid run-off with this very heavy watering. I usually just rotate the watering around the planting bed as I am watering, moving from one area to another as each gets saturated and starts to form puddles. Once the puddles drain, I return and saturate the soil there again, and repeat.

Also water the plants during any prolonged dry spell during their first growing season.  A lack of significant rainfall for a full week constitutes a "prolonged" dry spell. Look for the leaves on the plants "flagging" as an indication that they are drought-stressed.

If you wish to accelerate the establishment of your plants a bit, you can water them regularly throughout the first growing season.

Weed your planting about every 2-4 weeks during the first two growing seasons, as needed. Muched perennial plantings don't require much weeding at all for the first year.

Trees & Shrubs Care:

Any tree or shrub will need lots of watering in its first year of life. Larger plants that come in the 'ball and burlap' (B&B) form are especially sensitive since so much of their root mass, particularly their fine roots, were cut-off when these plants were dug from the ground at the nursery. For this reason, we prefer to plant smaller woody plants that come in containers whenever possible, or some larger trees (up to 1.5" caliper) are now available in root bags and these are much hardier than equivalent B&B plants.

Any tree species is also going to be sensitive to dry soils since their root structure (which focuses on large, permanent roots) is less adaptable than that of a shrub (which tend to have smaller roots that can be replaced more easily).

As a general rule, trees less than 1” in diameter (or shrubs of equivalent size) or less will only need watering for the first growing season they are in the ground. For each additional inch of width, you should water it for one more year. I'll call this time period based on plant size the supplimental watering period. So a 4” caliper tree will have a supplemental watering period of four years installation. This is another good reason to choose a smaller plant to begin with. Typically, shrubs in 5-20 gallon containers will only need watering during their first year on site. These small plants also grow faster than larger plants which suffer more from "transplant shock" and often halt growth for a year or two after planting.

No matter what size plants you have, watering should be done frequently and intensely. For the first two weeks after planting, we recommend the same watering regime for woody plans as we do for perennials: water extremely-heavily every other day for two weeks, as described above.  This is probably the equivalent of 6"-8" of rainfall for each of those first two weeks.

Once the young woody plant has been in the ground it will be slightly better able to handle drought stress so you can back off a bit. A good rule of thumb for any tree or shrub is that they will do best with the equivalent of 2” of rainfall a week during the entire supplemental watering period, whether provided by you, or the weather. If you are using a sprinkler to water your plants then leave out a small container in the area, and once it fills up with water 2” deep, you can turn the sprinkler off.  Soaker hoses help reduce any leaf mildy issues that can arise from frequent use of a sprinkler, and are generally more efficient uses of water but are more difficult to monitor.  Remember, you are trying to saturate the soil in the entire area surrounding the plant, but also, giving the soil time to drain between watering.

Weeding is less necessary for tree and shrub health. However, weeds often come in the pot with the plant, so check them a few times in the first growing season or two for dandelions, thistles and various biennial weeds such as foxtail grasses.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hosting Wildland Firefighter Training: S130/190 and S290

Good Oak is teaming up with Ken Terrill of Incident Management Specialists to host two NWCG wildland firefighter training courses this spring. These courses will be held here at Good Oak Headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

Basic Wildfire Firefighter & Prescribed Fire Training

 (S-130 / S-190, I-100, L-180)

Friday, March 16th 2018, 9am to 5pm 

This program is designed for entry-level personnel with little or no formal training in wildfire fire suppression or prescribe fire. This 32‐hour program (24 hrs. online and 8 hrs. formal workshop) encompasses S‐130 Fire Fighter, S‐190 Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior (self-study), L‐180 Human Factors on the Fireline, and I-100 Introduction to the Incident Command System (self-study) training. It is designed for entry level firefighters and personnel and required by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) for agencies subscribing to National Interagency Management System (NIMS). Upon successful completion of this course, students will earn a NWCG certificate which is necessary to work on wildfires or to participate in prescribe fires sponsored by some agencies. 
Sign up by March 9th, as a substantial portion of the course is conducted online, and must be completed before the classroom day! 

Click Here to Learn More and Register for S130/S190! 


Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior S-290

Friday March 23rd, 9am to 5pm

 This course is National Wildfire Coordinating Group (NWCG) certified. The online course work can be completed in approximately fifteen hours (current average), and consists of a pre-course test and twelve online modules with a test for each that the student must successfully complete before attending the classroom portion and becoming eligible to receive a certificate. The classroom portion of the course (March 23rd) involves discuss of the areas of fuels, weather and topography and how they determine what the fire behavior will be on a specific site in Wisconsin. 
This S-290 course is the second course in five course sequence developing wildland fire behavior prediction knowledge and skills. It builds upon the basics in S-190, Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior, but with more detailed information about characteristics and interactions of the wildland fire environment (fuels, weather, and topography) that affect wildland fire behavior for safety purposes.

Click Here to Learn More Register for S290!

For more information, contact Ken from the IMS Website.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Good Oak at Garden Expo 2018!

The Booth:

Good Oak will again be attending the Wisconsin Garden Expo, this weekend, February 9th - 11th.  See us at booth 324! We'd love to talk to folks about ecological land management and sustainable landscaping practices.

We will also be selling items from our Sustainable Garden Center, including quality tools and books on a variety of topics including natural landscaping, edible wild plants, pollinators, and restoration practices.


This year Frank will be giving four presentations, at least one each day of the Expo. Here's what's on the schedule:

Planting a Prairie: Choose Your Own Adventure

Friday, Feb. 9, @ 5:15 pm
Room: Mendota 5
Add beauty to your landscape, reduce maintenance costs and provide a critical haven for wildlife. This talk will outline the process of prairie establishment and help you chart a course that fits the needs of your site. 
Handouts:  Prairie Plant Sources, Books and Websites

Restoring Your Woodland to Health

Saturday, Feb. 10, @ 4:45 pm
Room: Waubesa/Kegonsa

Learn the steps necessary to restore your woodland to a stable, healthy habitat and home for birds, butterflies, bees and wildflowers.

Handouts:  Woodand Restoration HandOutline

Gardening for Pollinators

Sunday, Feb. 11, @ 10:15 am
Room: Mendota 8

Pollinators provide critical ecosystem services and are under threat from a variety of human impacts. Learn what you can do to make your yard a haven for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds, and the many other "little things that run the world".
Handouts:  Native Plant Sources, Books and Web and Native Bee and Hummingbird Plants

Rain Gardens: The Next Generation

Feb. 11, @ 2:00 pm
Room: Mendota 8 

Rain gardens help us control runoff and clean up our lakes and streams. They can also present many design challenges.  Learn why we need rain gardens, how they work and how you can make your next generation rain garden better.
Handouts:  Native Plant Sources, Books and Web
Reference:   Rain Gardens: A How-To Manual for Homeowners

We look forward to seeing you there!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Now Hiring: Interns, Technicians and Managers (oh my!)

If you'd like to get your hands dirty making a positive change for our environment, we're currently growing our crew for the 2018 season! 

-Ecological Land Management Technician:  We’re looking for folks experienced in landscaping or natural areas management work to join our team as a Technician, getting ecological land management work done on the ground. This is a permanent, full-time position with benefits. Applications are due February 16th, so act fast!

Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Landscaping Internship: We’re also looking for spring and summer interns, students and recent graduates who are looking to learn while they work. This could grow into a year-round, full-time Apprenticeship for the right candidates. Applications are due February 19th for the Spring Internship, and March 2nd for the Summer Internship. We're also looking to extend our internships to a year-round, full-time Apprentice position for good candidates, ask us about it when you apply.

Ecological Restoration Manager: We're always interested in meeting people that might be qualified to lead a team conducting land management work in the field, and work with clients on developing and executing plans. Get in touch.
There are multiple application due dates, but the first, are coming up quickly on February 16th! Please pass on to any potentially-interested parties.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Good Oak's Fall Native Plant Sale!

As is our tradition, we're selling off a little overstock of native plants this fall. We have over 600 native wildflowers, grasses and sedges that need homes! Below is our live inventory with pricing. Savings up to 75% off on some plants!

To order, email us at with the subject line: "Fall Plant Sale Order", and list the species and sizes you'd like. 

Or stop in to browse, but please text or phone first (608-209-0607), since we may be out working instead of at the shop!

UPDATE!: As an added bonus, we're going to offer 10% off our top four planting tools with any plant purchase as part of this sale!* Check out these great tools:

*Offer applies to in-store purchase only.