Good Oak News

Friday, February 12, 2016

Want to Save the World?: Good Oak is Hiring

We're looking to fill a few positions here at Good Oak.

We're looking to build up our team for the season, hiring for our Ecological Restoration and Sustainable Landscaping Technician position. This is our general get it done on the ground position, working both in natural areas and residential/commercial landscaping sites.

We're also announcing our spring and summer internships. We're looking for college students that want to learn a lot about native plants, ecological restoration and sustainable landscaping. Our spring internship starts in early-March, and applications are due soon, so don't wait!

We're also looking for someone with a strong background in horticulture and landscaping for our Sustainable Landscaping Manager position. Please note that this is not a position focused on ecological restoration, and only those with strong a landscaping/horticultural background should apply.

Find out more at our new Employment page.

The Good Oak Team, summer 2015.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Beaver Blades Make Brush Cutting More Efficient

Winter is the time to clear invasive brush that chokes our woods. With snow or frozen ground, you're not going to do much damage treading on the soil and if carefully applied, herbicide will have no impact on the recovery of native flora.

I'd like to tell you about a product that we've been using for years now. Its been so revolutionary to how we work, I've kind-of tried to keep it a trade secret. But we love so much that we've decided to set ourselves up as a retailer, so we can share this product with our clients and other land managers in our region. They're now for sale in our online store, or our Land Stewardship Center at 4606 Pflaum Rd., Madison, WI.

The Beaver Blade is a replacement, and significant upgrade for those standard brush cutting blades that come with your "weed whip", "string trimmer", "brush cutter" or whatever you want to call it. It basically turns your brushcutter or heavy duty weed-eater into the best brush clearing tool available. Once you’ve used them, you’ll never go back to standard brush blades. We’ve been using them for our winter brush clearing work for over 5 years, and I really can’t recommend them highly enough. It improves on the standard blades that you get with your brushcutter in three important ways:
  1. It incorporates actual chain saw links into its design, meaning larger, stronger cutting teeth that are easier to sharpen. The design of the chainsaw teeth allows for clearing the wood chips more easily and reduce resin build up both of which can slow the cutting of traditional brushcutter blades.
  2. These teeth are, in-fact, part of a loop of saw chain that runs around the circumference of the disk blade, and are not bound to the disk directly. This allows the chain to slide around the disk when substantial force is applied, acting as a clutch mechanism. This reduces jerking when you do get the blade pinched or hit it against a hard object and also reduces vibration while cutting. This increases your safety, comfort and work endurance.
  3. The disk is made of heavy gauge steel. The mass of the disk acts as a fly wheel, it maintains momentum well and thus keeps the disk keeps spinning fast for high speed cutting. It can cut through stems up to 1.5" instantly, and quickly tears into of larger diameter stems.
The overall effect is that you can clear brush approximately 50% faster than with a standard brush blade with much reduced operator fatigue. You can easily cut large stems up to 3.5”, and can even tackle small trees up to 8” in diameter with a little care working on both sides of the trunk.

The first rule of brush-cutting: Don't drop a tree on your boss (especially when he's holding an expensive camera).

Beaver Blades are made in the USA with high quality steel and real saw chain. They can be sharpened with the common 3/16" chain saw file. Though they cut surprisingly well even when dull, they should be sharpened after 4-8 hours of use (assuming you haven't hit any rocks or the dirt) for maximum performance. When you wear the teeth down to nubs, you don't have to throw your Beaver Blade out! They can be outfitted with a new chain, a service we will be providing for about $35 (contact us directly for this service).

Brushcutters in general are better than chainsaws for brush clearing since you don’t need to bend over to make your cut. Just remember to apply concentrated herbicide to the every stump of a deciduous tree or shrub that you cut, or it will resprout.

Apply herbicide to the stump carefully, its only needed around the circumference of the stem where the live cambium is. Additional herbicide application is wasteful, or worse damaging over-spray.

The 8” Beaver Blade attaches to most mid-powered weed-eaters/brush cutters to high powered brush saws. It fits the most common 1” arbor size found on brush-cutters, and comes with an adaptor to work with 20mm arbors.
We use them with Stihl FS-130, FS-240 and FS-250 brushcutters, and they should work with any brushcutter of similar size or larger from Stihl or other brands. We've found that we've had to do some minor modification to fit it with the safety guard on our brushcutter; we need to file down the bottom edge of our safety guard just about 1/8” for the Beaver Blade to clear, since the guard is designed for the thinner blades that Stihl produces).

Are you hard at work clearing brush to help restore our woodlands and prairies? Tell us what tools you like. We've managed to gather up our favorite cutting tools in our online store, take a look.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Good Oak's Four-Day Holiday Sale!

We've had a modest retail aspect to Good Oak for almost two years now. Our goal has been to offer the books and tools that we already recommend to our clients.

More recently we decided to expand our efforts to get more people involved in restoring native plants to our landscape. And with this new effort is a new name: Good Oak's Land Stewardship Center. 

This spring, we'll not only be selling quality garden tools and informative books, we'll also be teaching classes and workshops on ecological restoration and sustainable landscaping, and by the time the growing season rolls around, live plants!

So we thought we'd start this off with a little gift to our clients and friends. This week we're throwing a Four Day Holiday Sale. You can shop at our online store, or our physical Land Stewardship Center on Madison’s east side. With this sale, there are three ways to save:
  1. 10% our entire stock from Tuesday through Friday! Use Code HOLIDAY10 in the "Vouchers" field of the checkout module.

  2. An additional 20% off one select item each day of the sale (see below).

  3. FREE LOCAL DELIVERY to the Madison Metro area! This includes:

  •     Madison
  •     Monona
  •     Middleton
  •     McFarland
  •     Cottage Grove
  •     Fitchburg (north of Lacy Rd.)

We hope you can take advantage of this sale to get a gift for a loved one (or a little something for yourself) and that you have a great holiday season. As we move into the new year, we hope you'll watch the Land Stewardship Center grow!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Good Oak Garden Center Expansion Comming Soon!

Did You Know We Have a Little Retail Store?

Most people aren't aware that Good Oak has done some modest retail sales of tools and books. We have a small web-store, and do some sales at the Wisconsin Garden Expo, and other events.

We're focusing on being able to offer books on the topics of plant identification, gardening for pollinators and birds, native landscaping, invasive species control and a number of other informative and inspirational topics.
The Xercies Society has an in-depth guide about pollinators, and how you can make your property their best home.

We also offer a selection of hand tools to help get the projects done, from our favorite, the hori-hori, to clippers, loppers and hand-saws. Our goal is to offer high-quality, durable tools that get the job done, and not cheap gimmicky tools that you'll break, toss out or leave on the back of the shelf. We have tested everything we sell ourselves before it goes into the store.

The Nisaku Hori Hori. Our favorite tool.

Come See us At Our New Shop!

We're proud to say that we're in the process of expanding our retail offerings on multiple fronts. We have expanded our shop/office here at HQ, which now affords us a small retail space here at 4606 Pflaum Rd in Madison. So come on by and see us!

And, just in time for Christmas, we'll also have more great things to share with you: we'll have nearly twice as many book titles, and we may be nearly tripling the tools we offer. Look for an announcement coming in the next two weeks.

Bigger Things Coming

That's just the start. Over the next few months we'll continue to improve our web store, start offering classes and seminars at our new office space, and expand our offerings of tools, books, materials, and just in time for spring planting, live native plants!

Our goal is to be able to offer all the information, tools, plants and other materials to allow people to take action in their own backyard,"back forty" or community to restore native plants back to our landscape. We view our little retail store as one of the first steps towards that goal.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

2015 Plant Sale: 50% off of our plants!

 UPDATE: With cold weather closing in, we have ended our fall plant sale for 2015. We sold over 250 plants, we're glad they all found homes!

End of autumn overstock plant sale… scary low prices (50% off retail cost of most plants)!  These plants are not dead, just dormant or going dormant, and should rise from the ground once again in the spring. Plant them now and just water them once or twice and you're all set until spring!

Through no fault of their own, these little darlings are extras from the summer growing season. Please help them find a good, loving home before the cold fingers of winter arrive.

Offer ends soon! We will be winterizing the plants in a couple of weeks. See below for our current plant inventory list which will be updated in real-time as plants are sold.

To Order: 

Contact Melissa by email (melissa at or phone (608.250.0513). Plants can be picked up at our office at 4606 Pflaum Rd., by appointment, or delivered for an additional charge.