Save The Date

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, take down invasive plants, and get our hands dirty in the garden. There is something for everyone so read on and make plans to join us at these free events.

Integrated Pest Management in the Landscape
Saturday, January 18, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Learn how to implement simple actions throughout your landscape so that your plants can withstand common garden pests. Wizzie Brown, Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services, will address practices to prevent most pest problems, control population levels of common pests, and how to do so in an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective way.

Free workshop. Registration is required. Register here.


Arbor Day Tree Giveaway
Saturday, January 25, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon
Northshore Park (2505 Lake Woodlands Drive)

Join The Woodlands Township, and community partner, the George Strake District of Boy Scouts of America, in celebrating the 44th annual Arbor Day Tree Giveaway.  12 varieties of native tree seedlings will be available, while supplies last.  Come early for the best selection and be sure to bring your reusable bag to fill with trees and educational resources.

Since 1977 more than 1.5 million seedlings have been given to attendees to plant in their yard, in community open space reserves, and in forest preserves. Participate in one of The Woodlands longest standing traditions and help plant trees today to benefit our community for years to come.

For a complete list of seedlings available, visit here.


Principles of Organic Landscapes and Gardens
Saturday, February 1, 2020 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Three of Houston’s premier organic educators will teach a FREE workshop on the benefits of organic garden and landscape principles. If you are already gardening, thinking of starting a garden, or looking for a way to improve your yard, it’s time to ditch your synthetic fertilizers and toxic pesticides and garden with organics. Learn from the experts how to have a beautiful yard or garden free of chemicals.

Free workshop. Registration is required.  Register here.


Backyard Composting Class
Saturday, February 1, 2020 from 10 to 11 a.m.
Parks, Recreation and Environmental Services (8203 Millennium Forest Drive)

Learn how simple and easy it is to turn kitchen waste, yard trimmings and leaves into rich, handmade compost. Try out a variety of composting tools and equipment and learn how compost benefits plants, gardens and lawns.

High quality collapsible compost bins are available to purchase, at half price, to all those who attend.Regular price for a C.E. Shepard Compost Bin is $50. Class participants pay only $25.

This informal, interactive class is packed with great information and lots of fun. No registration required.


Community Tree Planting
Saturday, February 8, 2020 from 8 a.m. to noon
Creekside Park West Trailhead at the George Mitchell Nature Preserve

Volunteer today at the sixth annual Community Tree Planting. Township staff and volunteers will work side by side to help reforest a portion of the trailhead with a variety of native trees, wildflower seeds, and milkweed plants. This effort supports The Woodlands Township’s reforestation program as well as the Plant for Pollinators program that helps protect our native bees, butterflies, and moths.

All ages are welcome to volunteer and get their hands dirty. Registration is required. Register here.


Walk in the Woods: Basics of Backyard Beekeeping
Thursday, February 13, 2020 from 6 to 7 p.m.
HARC (8801 Gosling Road)

Ever wondered what it would be like to be a beekeeper? Not sure where to start, what the neighbors will think or how much work it will take? Join us for a FREE presentation, led by Woodlands residents Lisa and Andrew Miller and hear firsthand from local beekeepers.

Lisa has four hives at her home that she and her son, Andrew, manage. Lisa has a wealth of experience in urban beekeeping and bee removal. She is a board member of the Montgomery County Beekeepers Association as well as a mentor to club members. Lisa and Andrew are members of Real Texas Honey, The Texas Beekeepers Association and they created The Woodlands Honey Company to sell their own local honey.

Free program. Registration required. Register here.


Invasives Task Force Training Event
Saturday, February 15, 2020 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
HARC (8801 Gosling Road)

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department wants you to volunteer!

Non-native, invasive plants crowd out native vegetation, degrade soil health and push out critical food sources that wildlife depend on. Volunteers are needed to work on scheduled days at specific sites around town to remove invasive species such as air potato vine, Chinese privet and Japanese climbing fern.

Since the efforts began in February 2019, more than 80 volunteers have been trained on identification and proper removal of invasive plants. A total of 350 volunteer hours helped remove 2,600 gallons of invasive species from pathways in the Township.

Free training. Light lunch included. Registration required. Register here.


Spring Vegetable Gardening that Works in Location and Climate
Saturday, February 22, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon
The Woodlands Emergency Training Center (16135 IH-45 South)

Register today for the unique chance to hear from Dr. Bob Randall as he shares how to have a successful organic vegetable garden with tips and tricks specific to our climate.

Dr. Randall has a lifelong interest in sustainable food production, gardening around the world until settling in Houston in 1979. As a founding member of Urban Harvest, Dr. Randall has helped establish one of the most successful community gardening programs in the Houston area.

Dr. Randall will cover a variety of topics in this 3 hour presentation including:

  • Organic gardening
  • Spring gardening for Montgomery County
  • Garden site selection and preparation
  • Plant selection related to specific plant hardiness zone (9a)
  • Gardening techniques

Free workshop. Registration required. Register here.


We hope to see you at one of the many programs offered in the next few months. For more information or to see the full calendar of events, visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment

Holiday Recycling and Trash Service

In observance of the Christmas and New Year holidays, there will be no solid waste collection services on Wednesday, December 25, 2019 or Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

All services are affected—trash, recycling, yard trimmings, bulk pick-up, and Simple Recycling (orange textile bags). The chart below shows when service will be provided.   

The Woodlands Recycling Center (5402 Research Forest Dr)

  • Closed – Wednesday December 25 and January 1
  • Open – every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Recycle Holiday Boxes and Wrappings

If your recycling cart is full, take advantage of special holiday recycling. On the first service day following December 25 in each Village, additional cardboard boxes, gift boxes and plain recyclable wrapping paper will be picked up for recycling. NO FOIL, GLITTER, OR EMBOSSED PAPER ALLOWED.

  • Break down smaller gift and mailing boxes to consolidate into one box.
  • Put extra paper wrappings in a small box.
  • Place additional boxes at the curb next to the recycling cart.
  • The holiday recycling truck is reserved only for recyclables.
    • DO NOT bag your recyclables. Leave them loose in the box or cart.
    • NO plastic bags.
    • NO Styrofoam™
    • NO bubble wrap.
    • NO ribbon, decorations, or Christmas lights.
  • Failure to follow guidelines will result in items being left at the curb.

Cut Christmas Tree Recycling – Unflocked Trees Only

  • Remove tree stand, all decorations and lights.
  • Place the tree at the curb on your regular service day for collection by the yard trimmings truck.
  • Other Option: Natural trees can be dropped off at The Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park, 6464 Creekside Forest Drive, between December 26, 2019, and January 7, 2020. Please deposit trees in the Christmas Tree Corral in the parking lot at any time of day. Trees will be chipped and used as ground cover at the facility.

Flocked Christmas Tree Disposal

  • Schedule for bulk pick-up by calling Waste Management Customer Service at 800-800-5804.
  • Call at least two working days before your regular service day.
  • Flocked Christmas trees must be landfilled.

Extra Trash Bags

  • Extra bags of trash can be placed on the curb next to your cart.
  • Each bag must be affixed with a pink extra service tag.
  • Purchase tags for $1.75 each from The Woodlands Township offices, Kroger (Cochran’s Crossing, Alden Bridge and Sterling Ridge) or Randalls (Grogan’s Mill and Panther Creek).
  • Each bag may weigh no more than 40 pounds.

Helpful Reminders

Missed Pick-ups. Please call Waste Management Customer Service at 800-800-5804.

Recycling unusable textiles. Fill Simple Recycling orange bags with worn out bedding, clothes, towels, and any other household textiles. Then place your bags on the curb on your regular service day. No phone call required. Request orange bags at www.simplerecycling.com.

Usable Home Items in Good Condition

Consider donating usable items to local charities before throwing them away. Here is a list of all local donation centers.


For more information on The Woodlands Township, please call 281-210-3800 or visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Guide

The best gifts come in sustainable packages!

Approximately 4.6 million pounds of wrapping paper is produced in the U.S. each year with 2.3 million pounds ending up in the landfill.

Holiday wrapping paper is often coated in plastic or foil causing it to be non-recyclable. If the wrapping paper is metallic, has glitter on it, or has a texture to it, it is not recyclable. Gift wrap mistakenly put in the recycling cart harms the value of other collected paper at the recycling center.

Beautiful paper like these: glitter, metallic, textured and reversible are NOT recyclable wrapping papers.

If it feels like plain paper, not slick or wax coated, or is made from recycled paper, then it’s a wrapping paper that can be recycled.  Another way to test recyclability is to crush the paper into a ball. If it stays bunched up, it is likely recyclable.

An eco-friendly gift is thoughtful for the recipient and the planet! Check out these tips for a greener holiday.

Reusable Gift Wrap and Recycled Paper

If the holiday rush has you hustling and there’s no time for crafting, consider purchasing a reusable alternative. Fabric gift wraps, nice tea towels, scarves and bandannas make excellent choices.

For wrapping boxes, try using found newspaper or purchasing wrapping paper made with recycled content.  Really get in to the recycling spirit with these two simple crafts and make your own gift box or hand-made bow this holiday season.


Shopping Bag Bow

Materials:

  • Paper – shopping bag, newspaper, etc.
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Double-sided tape

Instructions:

Cut your paper into nine strips, each ¾ of an inch wide. Next, measure and cut the length. You’ll need three strips that are 11” long, three strips that are 10” long, two strips that are 9” long and 1 strip that is 3 1/2” long.

Using one strip of paper at a time, twist each end toward the center until they meet in the middle and create a loop. Secure the ends in place with double-sided tape. Repeat with the remaining eight strips, with the exception of the 3 ½” inch strip; loop that one into a circle.

Start with the three longest strips of paper and begin stacking in descending order by size; largest on the bottom. Secure each loop in place with tape. Finish with the circle loop in the center. Attach your bow on top of your gift wrapped in recyclable paper.


Create a Gift Box

Turn any recycled card stock into a gift box. Find old record covers, cereal boxes, or old shipping boxes and make a custom box for a loved one.

Materials:

  • Card Stock
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Hot glue or double-sided tape

Instructions for an 8 inch square box:

Trim two pieces of card stock into a square that is 12″ wide and long.

For the top: Draw a line 2″ wide on each side. For the bottom: Draw a line 2 1/4″ wide on each side. Press firmly to score lines but not too hard or you might cut or tear the card stock. See image below.

Use scissors to lightly score along the lines

Cut alternating flaps as marked on the image below. Fold along all four scored lines on each piece of card stock. Use glue or tape to secure each corner flap inside the longer, side piece of the box. 

Use clothespins to secure corners while glue is drying

Once glue dries or the corners are secured with tape, you have a custom, upcycled box to fill with a special gift for friends, family or the holiday gift swap at the office.

Questions? Contact our staff at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

What do mosquitoes DO all winter?

If you have been following the Eastern equine encephalitis outbreak in the Northeast US, most of the news stories end with a statement such as “the first killing frost ends the adult mosquito season in any given area.” This is a completely valid assumption when you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing and stay there for weeks at a time.

However, to say that winter weather in our region can be variable is an understatement. While our recent cold front may have frozen some tender plants, it wasn’t enough to do much damage to our resident population of southern house mosquitoes, Culex quinquefasciatus.

A technician collects mosquitoes resting underneath a bridge

That’s because, as the days get shorter and temperatures and humidity drop, this last generation of female mosquitoes plump up internal fat reserves and find a nice sheltered spot to wait out the winter. Storm drains are a favorite haunt, along with garden sheds and rodent burrows.

The southern house mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, overwinters as an adult fed by fat reserves in her abdomen

Along with a thicker outer skeleton that resists drying and a metabolism slowed down like cold molasses, these mosquitoes enter a form of dormancy called diapause. This state of suspended development will last until the days lengthen and temperatures rise again – a relatively short window in SE Texas.

And that sheltered spot? When it warms up, storm drains do double duty as a breeding place for those overwintering mosquitoes. Excess irrigation and grass clippings keep drains perpetually moist and full of organic material. This creates the perfect breeding ground– read more about it here. Consider turning off your automatic sprinkler for the winter to avoid runoff (it’s also healthier for your lawn).

Mosquitoes shelter in storm drains over the winter, which become breeding grounds in the spring if kept wet by irrigation run-off

So how do mosquitoes survive where it is cold and below freezing? They do so as eggs, just like the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, Aedes albopictus, that we have here. Based on seasonal cues, females will lay eggs with more fat to sustain the embryo, along with a thicker “coat” to keep eggs from drying out so they can survive the colder temperatures. These eggs are as big as a speck of dirt and almost impossible to differentiate with the naked eye. So, do yourself a favor and give those plant pots and other outdoor items a good scrub before storing them away for the winter. You’ll be rewarded with fewer mosquitoes when the weather warms.   


Questions? Comments? Contact enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Create Rich Compost Using Thanksgiving Kitchen Scraps

Give thanks for the piles of potato and apple peelings, egg shells, onion skins, coffee grounds and tea bags left over after a home-cooked holiday meal and create your own nutritious backyard compost in just a few easy steps. 

Compost offers an abundance of benefits to the home landscape, garden and container plants through:

  • Improved soil texture and aeration
  • Improved drainage and nutrient availability in clay soil
  • Water loss prevention and nutrient leaching in sandy soil
  • Less fertilizer required since compost helps soil hold moisture

Food is the largest single source of waste in the U.S., taking up 20% of our landfill space. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, only 6% of our food waste gets composted.

Good news, it’s easy to do something about this problem. Start this season by composting your holiday meal scraps.  Here’s how:

Follow these simple guidelines

What to compost

  • Egg shells
  • Coffee grounds
  • Tea bags and leaves
  • Raw vegetable scraps/peelings
  • Raw vegetable cores
  • Fresh fruit peelings/rinds

What NOT to compost

  • Meat
  • Bones
  • Fish
  • Dairy Products
  • Grease
  • Cooking Oil

Animal by-products are not appropriate for home composting systems. As they decompose their odors may attract wildlife scavengers.  These items also require a lot more time to break down into components that are useful to plants.

Where to store your scraps

Most folks elect to save their compostable scraps in a bucket with a lid or a freezer quality zipper lock bag until they have enough to warrant a trip out to compost bin. Keeping the scraps sealed prevents any unpleasant odors.

How to compost

There are many ways to compost: bins, piles, barrels, enclosed, exposed and more.  Whatever your preference, a good starting point is to select an area for your compost that receives partial shade to keep from drying out too fast and good drainage to keep from being too wet. Compost needs a mix of organic material, microorganisms, air, water and nitrogen for decomposition to occur. The good news is that you have all these elements at home.  A good mix of kitchen scraps, dry leaves and garden clippings is a great place to begin. For more information on how to manage your compost throughout the year to produce the best material for your lawn and garden, check out this resource from The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Services.

Setting up a home composting system is simple and easy.  The Woodlands Township’s Environmental Services Department offers home composting classes on the first Saturday of each month from November through March.  Classes are free!

High quality C. E. Shepherd compost bins are available for purchase at each class.  Our classes are taught in our outdoor composting classroom located at 8203 Millennium Forest, The Woodlands, TX 77381.  Class is from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. with optional hands-on opportunities immediately following the presentation.  Join us to learn more about turning kitchen scraps into compost and be sure to check out our website for more information.

Questions? Comments? Contact us at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov