Can your freeze damaged plants recover?

Were your plants damaged by the winter storm? If you’re unsure where to begin in the recovery process, we can help. Before you dig, cut, prune or chop let these local experts guide you through the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri.  


Many resources have become available in the last week. We’ve included a short list of archived videos and articles below.  If you are looking for a live seminar on plant recovery, register today for the March 10 presentation by Bob Dailey, Texas Master Gardener. 


Bookmark these timeless articles and refer back for quick tips on plant care over the next few months.  

Houston Botanic Garden  

A quick read to get you started on your plant recovery process. The biggest take away: Patience is key. 

Urban Harvest  

This article starts with step one: triage.  Learn what to look for, identify what needs to be removed and what indicates your plant has survived.  Read about specific approaches to your citrus, vegetables and fruits. 

9 Rules for Horticultural Freeze Recovery 

Notable author and host of Houston’s GardenLine radio, Randy shares his expertise on how to approach a post-freeze cleanup.  The advice doesn’t stop with these 9 rules. Listen to archived radio shows for more tips or call in for a Q&A during a live broadcast. 


Backyard Winter Storm Recovery Webinar with Texas Plant Disease Diagnostic Lab  

A roundtable of lawn and garden experts answer the tough questions including: what does turf grass need after a freeze, how to be patient with your palms and how much to prune your shrubs.  

Will They Survive the Winter Blast?  

Aggie Horticulture dives into what impact Winter Storm Uri had across the state of Texas. This video reviews all the factors that made this storm especially damaging including the freezing temperatures, the duration of low temperatures, the wind and precipitation. Speakers walk around the garden and review best care practices for a variety of plants you may find in your landscape. 


Now that you know how to care for your freeze-damaged plants, have you given any thought on how to be better prepared for the next winter storm?   

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension has a detailed article on Protecting Landscapes and Horticultural Crops from Frosts and Freezes.   Weather is unpredictable, but by educating ourselves we can be better prepared for future freezes.  

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Backyard Composting Week

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food waste accounts for nearly 24% of all landfill material, consuming space and producing methane, a greenhouse gas that’s up to 86 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. Much of this waste could be easily composted instead. From leftovers to kitchen scraps, composting is a great way to manage food waste, quickly turning it from problem to resource, right in your own backyard.   

This week The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department brings you resources for starting or enhancing your backyard composting. Wherever you are on your home composting journey, these handy resources will help. 

Beginner Composter 

Composting 101

Learn to compost in only 15 minutes. This video walks you through the process, from beginning to end.  Easy-to-follow instructions and great visuals will have you composting in no time.   

Backyard Composting Guide

Keep this comprehensive, step-by-step brochure handy as you design, build and manage your compost pile. You’ll find yourself enjoying nutrient rich compost in as little as three months.

Benefits of Using Compost and Mulch

On the fence about starting your own composting bin? This compelling resource, which covers the multitude of ecological, economic and sustainability benefits of composting, will leave you convinced and inspired.

Experienced Composter 

Soil Food Web Compost and Compost Tea 

Have you been composting for a while? Looking to take it to the next level? Dr. Elaine Ingham’s video explores microbes, compost tea, humic acid, and new temperature and humidity reading techniques.  

Composting with Worms:  Seven Easy Steps

Vermicomposting is a great option for composting at home, especially if you’re lacking yard space. Use worms to breakdown your food waste and yard trimmings – explained in seven easy steps. 

Compost Bins for Sale

The Woodlands Township offers high quality compost bins that set up in seconds for only $50; retail price is $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township at 281-210-3800 to purchase and arrange for pickup. 

Looking for more composting resources?  Check out the November resources we pulled together on Backyard Composting here.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Recycling Dilemma #1009: Caution, that pizza box is cheesy!

Pizza nights are a common family tradition – over 93% of Americans enjoy the cheesy pie at least once a month. And most of us think recycling the box when we’re done is the right thing to do. We are right, aren’t we? Well, sort of.  

If you are an avid recycler, and we know you are, trashing any piece of cardboard goes against your nature. But, placing cardboard and paper soaked in oil, sauce and cheese in the trash is the right thing to do! Food and grease are the most frequent and costliest contaminants in the paper recycling process.  

If the top half of the box is clean and salvageable, cut or tear off the clean part for recycling and trash the greasy part. If the extra cheese on your pizza sticks to the top and bottom the top of the box, trash it. It’s better this way! 

Please note some cities recycle pizza boxes because their recycling facility is equipped to do so and there is an end market for soiled cardboard. Greasy cardboard may work in some areas, but not in ours. Here, they only contaminate the good material. Find out more about local recycling contaminants here.  

Food-soiled pizza boxes and paper products are considered contamination. Each year, contamination costs the recycling industry over $700 million in damage to machinery, unanticipated disposal costs, inefficiency, lost time and wasted materials. 

Help keep The Woodlands recycling program successful by sharing the 4-1-1- on pizza boxes with friends and family at your next pizza party! 

Check out these recycling tips from previous blogs:     

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov   

Registration Open for Spring Classes

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department kicks off the New Year with a packed calendar of programs and events. We are ready to plant trees, create water-saving lawns, get our hands dirty in the garden and more. From virtual programing to socially-distanced events, there is something for everyone.  


45th Arbor Day Tree Giveaway Drive-Through 

Saturday, January 23, 20201
9 a.m. to noon
Sawdust Park and Ride
701 Westridge Road, The Woodlands, TX 77380

One of the longest running community events celebrates 45 years. Cruise through the line in your car and select from twelve varieties of native tree seedlings. Help reforest our community by planting these seedlings in your yard and nearby green spaces. Don’t miss this free event.  


Walk in the Woods: The Weird and Wonderful World of Mushrooms 

Thursday, February 11, 2021
6 to 7 p.m.
Free online class

Take a virtual Walk in the Woods with Teri MacArthur, Texas Master Naturalist and discover The Woodlands’ rich and diverse array of mushrooms. Then dive into the critical role they play in healthy ecosystems and yes, even healthy lawns and landscapes.  Registration required.


7th annual Community Tree Planting 

Saturday, February 13, 2021
9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands High School Parking Lot

Take part in the community’s reforestation program by planting native trees around your home or in a nearby green space. Reserve your free, 3-gallon trees online and then pick up at the community drive-through event. Registration opens January 11 (supplies are limited).  For more information or to register follow the link below.


Invasive Species Training  

Saturday, February 20, 2021
8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Free online class

Volunteers are needed to join the Invasive Species Volunteer Task Force. This training is a great place to start:  learn how to identify and remove non-native plants common to our area. Upon completion, you’ll be ready to volunteer alongside your neighbors, helping to keep The Woodlands environment healthy. The training is free but registration is required.


Spring Organic Vegetable Gardening Class 

Saturday, February 20, 2021
9 a.m. to noon
Free online class

It’s that time of year! Start planning your spring vegetable garden now. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced gardener, a great first step is to join Dr. Joe Masabni, Texas A&M Extension vegetable specialist in this free online (Zoom) class. Participants will take away new strategies for managing soil, selecting the right plants, companion planting, managing pests organically and more. Registration is required.


Don’t miss out, register today. For a full list of upcoming programs, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment or subscribe to receive a weekly email with the latest happenings.   

Did you miss one of our fall programs? 

View past recorded programs on The Woodlands Township YouTube channel HERE.

Questions or comments? Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Don’t Fear the Fungus

Some are scary or downright disgusting when you first encounter them. Is that dog vomit? No, it might be an aptly named slime mold, Fuligo septica. Technically not a fungus, this protist appears suddenly, much like a lawn mushroom, and disappears almost as fast. If you knew the gargantuan effort it takes to assemble this many single-celled organism you might just leave them be to finish out their lifecycle.   

While fungi come in a wondrous assortment of colors and forms, the vast majority are not only beneficial but necessary. They’re also beautiful! Consider the delicate banded Turkey Tail (Trametes versicolor), the lacey petticoat of bridal veil stinkhorn, or the artists’ favorite, Amanita muscaria

Situation Normal 

Mushrooms in your lawn is not a sign of something wrong! They’re simply the visible part of a much larger network of underground mycelium, breaking down dead and decaying organic matter. Look around – is there a stump nearby? 99% of fungus won’t harm a living tree; they’re there to help with decomposing dead or dying wood, along with leaves, wood chips, branches, and fallen fruit. Mushrooms are a good sign! They’re proof the soil is alive, diverse, and rich in nutrients – the foundation of a healthy lawn and landscape. 

What to Do 

Resist the urge to treat it and grab your phone instead. Easy-to-use apps such as iNaturalist or Google Lens will help you identify which mushroom is flourishing in your flower bed. iNaturalist will even help you filter by location to see what others are seeing nearby. 

Fungicides are not recommended. The mushrooms typically aren’t causing damage and the chemicals are largely ineffective since the bulk of the mushroom exists belowground – think multiple square feet. It’s that extensive network of hyphae throughout the soil that comprises the true fungus from which the fruiting bodies – mushroom caps – arise. They’re a natural part of spring and fall when moisture abounds and temperatures cool. As weather conditions become unfavorable mushrooms retreat on their own, often as quickly as they appeared. You can discourage mushrooms by watering less frequently and pruning to reduce shade. 

Treatment 

If you really want them gone – perhaps you have a toddler or dog that puts everything in their mouth, here’s how: 

  • Cut or pull or mow the fruiting bodies to limit the number of spores and therefore future mushrooms. The rest of the fungal mycelia will persist underground until conditions return for another round of fruiting – likely not for a while.  
  • When trees are removed, the roots persist and begin to decompose with the help of insects, bacteria and fungi. The only way to permanently stop the continual upcropping of mushrooms is to dig out the soil containing the decaying matter, 12 to 18 inches deep and 2 feet outside the mushroom cluster. If that seems like a lot of work, leave the mushroom power houses there. When they’ve done their job of devouring all that underground material, it – and the mushrooms above – will disappear for good. 
  • Take care to wash hands thoroughly after handling mushrooms, as even some edible types can cause irritation. 

Mushrooms are a good sign. Delight in their ephemeral presence next time they make an appearance in your yard. Most are no “truffle” at all. 

Discover More! 

iNaturalist Mushrooms of Texas 

North American Mycological Association has an extensive list of recommended books. While you are there check out their stunning photography contests. 

All about dog vomit slime mold 

Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov