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Ripple Effects

Now Accepting Applications for Free Native Plants for School and Community Projects-Spring 2023 Cycle

Applications are due Feb. 1st, 2023.

Plant Dane Native Plant Program

Native Plantings and Rain Gardens have Ripple Effects on our Waters

Convert some of your lawn into a native garden this spring. Not only are native plants beautiful, but they provide important ecosystem services such as habitat for pollinators and wildlife and improved water quality. Native garden act as sponges helping rainwater to soak into the ground preventing stormwater runoff from draining into our lakes, rivers and streams.

The Plant Dane Program provides Dane County residents access to native plants at the discounted price of $2.50/plant, about half the normal retail price. It's open to schools, non-profit organizations (lake and neighborhood associations, youth groups, faith centers, clubs, etc.), municipalities and individual residents in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Garden Planning

Are you interested in incorporating native plants into your landscaping, but aren't sure where to start? Well, you've come to the right place. First, you'll want to decide what type of native garden you'd like to plant. Then, you'll want to select your plants, and finally, you'll want to order them. Let's get started! 

What type of garden?

There are three primary types of gardens that feature native plants: rain gardens, downspout gardens, and native gardens.

  • A rain garden is a shallow depression planted with native plants. The depression collects water and allows it to soak into the ground.
  • A downspout garden is a small native garden planted near a downspout. These gardens have been augmented with compost to encourage roof water to soak into the ground.
  • A native garden is simply an area that's been planted with native plants. They can still play an important role in improving water quality because native plants have deep root systems (especially compared to turf grass) that help infiltrate rain water and reduce stormwater runoff.   

How to Order Plants

Jot down the plant species you'd like to order, and then visit the "Order Plants" tab for instructions on how to order. Please jot down some backup species just in case the species you're most interested in are not available (species will be available based on nursery availability). 

Donate plants

Are you interested in helping schools and community groups that are interested in incorporating native plants but may not have the budget to purchase them? You can either donate funds so these groups can purchase plants grown in a nursery, or you can volunteer to help grow the plants these groups. Check out the "Donate Plants" and "Grow Plants" tabs for more details. 

Apply for free plants

Are you part of a school or community group that would like to plant native plants to benefit water quality and education? Check out the "Apply for Free Plants" tab for more details.

Order Plants

The order process is simple:

  1. Review the 2022 Plant Dane Native Species List and make note of which plants you'd like to order (esp. their Latin name, as this is how they are listed on the order form).
  2. Once you know what species you want, place your order using the Plant Dane Order System (not currently available). Plants are sold in packs of four, and pre-selected plant garden kits come in packs of 16 or 32. 
  3. Participants must pick up plants on their assigned pick up date (see the Pickup Details tab for more details)Please arrange to have a relative, friend, or neighbor pick up plants if you aren't available.

Pickup Details

Participants must pick up plants on their assigned pick up date. If you are unsure of your pickup date, please check your order receipt. Arrange to have a relative, friend, or neighbor pick up plants if you aren't available.

Pickup Date 1: May 21 from 8:00 - 11:00 a.m. 
Plant Pick Up Date for first 15,000 plants ordered. Plants must be picked up at the location below:

Dane County Land and Water Resources Dept. Office
5201 Fen Oak Drive
Madison, WI

Pickup Date 2: May 25 from 4:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Plant Pick Up Date for all subsequent orders (after the first 15,000 plants ordered). Plants must be picked up at the location below:

Dane County Parks Building
4212 Robertson Rd.
Madison, WI

Donate Plants

The donation period for the Free Native Plants for School and Community Projects Program has ended. Please check back in Feb. 2023 for a new list of projects to donate to.

Dane County Land and Water Resources Dept. is accepting donations to provide native plants for community and school projects through our Free Native Plants for School and Community Projects Program. Consider a donation to purchase plants that support a local community/school native garden project. It’s easy, just click on DONATE (not currently available), select a project from the pull down menu and the number of plants you wish to donate. Plants donations must be made in set of 4 (4 plants ($10), 8 plants ($20), 12 plants ($30)….). The cost of plants will simply be added to your order total. Plant donation recipients will select the plants from species list that best suit the needs of their specific project. Deadline to donate is March 22nd.

Visit the Plant Dane Donation Projects page for a list of projects accepting donations.

Apply for Free Plants

The application period for the spring cycle of the Free Native Plants for School and Community Program is now open. Applications for the spring cycle are due Feb. 1st . 

The Dane County Land and Water Resources Dept. has a limited supply of free native plants that are available for use in school or community projects within Dane County that benefit water quality and education. Plants for the fall cycle are grown by volunteers. Plants will be available for pick up in late summer. To find out more about the program please visit the program website. The program can also help provide seeds and supplies to teachers that would like to grow plants with their students. 

Helpful Resources