Woodlands Landscaping Solutions Online Learning: Day 3

Build a Successful Landscape from Ground Up 

Today’s online programming will help you find easier, more effective and more sustainable ways to enhance your landscape. Learn about plant selection, improving soil health and pest control best practices (many common plant problems, like insects and disease, can be easily resolved once the cause is identified).  

Set-up for Success: The 3 S’s 

 Right Plant Right Place, UMN Extension Part 1  

While set in Minnesota, Extension Educator Julie Weisenhorn gives a great overview of how to choose the perfect plant for that empty spot in your yard or garden – whether it’s for your entryway or anywhere else. Putting the right plant in the right place is the foundation of any successful garden. Learn how to assess soil, sun, space and other factors in this handy how-to video on one of the fundamental aspects of garden design.  

Bottom line: Avoid most plant problems with this one concept (8:44)

Extra credit: The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center Plant Finder allows you to plug all your requirements into their database to find the perfect match for you from their list of Pineywood natives (which they call the South Central Plains).


Feed the Soil Microbiome 

Building Microbe-Rich Living Compost Part 1 

Making and applying microbe-rich compost is one of the most valuable things you can do for your soil. Understand principles and practices of home-scale composting to insure a rodent-free and biologically active compost pile. A great resource whether you’re just beginning to compost or are experienced and looking to make your compost even better.  

Cultivating Connections: Soil Redemption Song 

Michael Phillips takes you on a deep dive into the microscopic communities beneath our feet and our crops. He talks about the fungal network as a pathway to bringing resilience to gardens and landscapes.  Michael Phillip, who’s latest book, “Mycorrhizal Planet: How Fungi and Plants Work Together to Create Dynamic Soils,” explores the science of symbiotic fungi and sets the stage for practical applications across the landscape. 


Encourage Nature’s Pest Control 

Managing Garden Insects Begins with a Question: Friend or Foe? 

Learning “what is it?” is the first step in determining if an insect is a useful garden partner, a minor player, or potentially a bigger problem. Your garden may have over 1000 different insects! Most are actually harmless or provide beneficial functions like pollination and predation. Learn to recognize and protect nature’s pest control at various stages in their lifecycle, along with pests associated with chewing, discoloration, distortion, and die back.  

Bottom line: Every. Single. Gardener. Needs to know this info! (18:04) 

Farmscaping for Pollinators & Predatory Insects 

Learn about the dynamic interactions between plants, pollinator and predator insects that will help you create a buzz of biodiversity and balance in your niche of the local ecosystem. Discover key plants that add biodiversity and beauty to your garden through a conversation with Pat Battle from Living Web Farms. Watch the first 31 mins for a new approach to farming that works for the home garden too, then follow Pat and his class on a delightful tour through the farmscape.  

Bottom line: Good for gardeners who want to “level-up” on biodiversity (1:24:04) 

Building A Host Environment for Beneficial Insects  

Build it and they will come! Bring it all together with elements you can add to any garden that encourage self-sustaining populations of nature’s natural pest control featuring the story of momma hoverfly, and why its OK to have aphids!

Bonus: If you are considering purchasing and releasing lady beetles, check out Lady Beetles for Aphid Control by Oklahoma Gardening host Kim Toscano. 

Pesticide Safety 

Backyard Farmer – Pesticide Safety 

Sometimes a problem requires a chemical solution – whether its naturally derived like neem or a broad-spectrum pyrethroid. University of Nebraska Extension Pesticide Education Coordinator Larry Schulze gives us tips on active ingredients, reading and following pesticide labels and using these chemicals safely around our homes. 

Bottom line: Important information for all who use pesticides – the label is the law (5:58)

Additional Resources:  

Join us tomorrow for more online programming as we explore How To Attract Wildlife To Your Yard. 

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

Woodlands Landscaping Solutions Online Learning: Day 1

Organic Gardening

Welcome to The Woodlands Landscaping Solutions Online Learning. Visit daily for videos that address your lawn and garden needs. If you are looking for easier, more effective and more sustainable ways to enhance your landscape, you’ve come to the right place.  

Today’s online programming focuses on organic gardening. From selecting water saving native plants to building a raised bed and what vegetables to plant, we have something for everyone. 

Grow Native, Not Wild

Maybe you aren’t sure where to begin, or you’ve decided to get rid of some lawn, or you have an idea in mind and need a little help.  

Daniel Cunningham walks you through landscape design basics, including native plant selection, site preparation, installing hardscapes, soil preparation, and best practices for caring for your garden.   


Landscape CPR

Ready to breathe new life into your landscape? Learn how to address poor soil conditions, bare spots on the lawn, an area where nothing will grow, weed, insect and disease infestations, and slow draining water. 

These are symptoms of a bigger issue and Dr. Bowling will help diagnose common landscape issues and prescribe tips on how to revive your landscape.   


Constructing a Raised Bed

Raised beds are perfect for a variety of plants, vegetables, flowers and herbs. Avoid poor soil, pipes underground, and reduce your need to weed.   

Daniel Cunningham provides simple guidelines for success. He reviews planning before building, what materials to use, soil selection, and how to find the right plants for your new garden. 


Grow Your Own Vegetables

42 million US Households are growing their own vegetables, reducing their grocery bill, enhancing nutrition and flavor, and reducing food waste. Learn how to get started in this beginner friendly video that covers location, size, soil preparation, and vegetable selection.


Fall Vegetable Gardening

Not sure what to plant this fall? If you haven’t already got your veggies in the ground, it’s not too late! If you dream of picking your own vegetables and enjoying a fresh salad grown right at home, be sure to watch this three-part video. 

Dr. Bob Randall, noted Houston vegetable gardening expert and published gardening author, shares his vegetable gardening expertise in this three-part Zoom webinar. Dr. Randall focuses on what you need to know about selecting the right garden site, how to prepare your soil and his top organic gardening techniques.  

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Additional Resources

Join us tomorrow for more online programming as we explore Water Saving Tips for Lawns and Gardens 

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

Earn cash by gardening

That’s not a misprint. Thanks to our sponsors, The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N., and Project PolliNation, cash awards will be given to the three village associations with the most points earned in the Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge. First place will be awarded $750, second place $500 and third place $250. These funds support village association scholarship programs. Simply put, your garden can grow money.  

Since the Village Challenge began in June 2020, residents have reached out to learn more about the program. We’re answering your most asked questions below. 

What is the Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge?  

This community challenge, created by The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department, encourages residents to support pollinators by providing food, shelter and a space free of harmful chemicals. Residents register their garden and share actions they’ve taken to provide a habitat for bees, butterflies, moths and more.   

Just like the Water-Wise and Recycling Village Challenges, residents earn points which equal cash for scholarships. Registrations submitted June 1 through December 1, 2020 earn a point for the village where the garden is located.  

The Challenge is part of the Plant for Pollinators Program, which supports Township-wide efforts to support and increase our pollinator populations. On-going efforts include distribution of milkweed to the public, installation of pollinator gardens in parks and schools, and educational outreach. 

I’m not a fan of insects. Why would I want to attract them to my yard? 

Pollinator gardens attract bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, bats, and even hummingbirds. These beneficial insects go to work in your garden pollinating flowers, fruit trees and vegetable gardens. Did you know that we rely on pollinators for roughly one third of the food that we eat? Our natural environment is even more reliant on their services.  

Maybe you’re having trouble with nuisance insects in your yard. Pollinator gardening can help. The native plants you add will attract birds and bats to control those unwanted pests. They’ll increase your biodiversity so that no single pest takes over. And, you’ll love the year-round flowers. 

I’ve never gardened before. Where do I start? 

We suggest starting with the Plant for Pollinators Garden Registration Form.  Each section (Shelter, Nectar Plants, Host Plants, Water Source) highlights essential elements for a pollinator garden. You likely have many of these in your yard already. For example, a loblolly pine tree is a host plant for elfin butterflies. Your wooden fence provides covered space for a caterpillar to form a chrysalis. Bare ground serves as a nesting site for native bees. And your fountain, provided its chemical-free, is an excellent source of water.  

Determine how much space you want to dedicate to your garden, how much sun that area receives and how what the soil is like. Is it sandy, full of clay or a mix of both? Does it stay moist or dry quickly? This is all important information to lead you to your next step – plant selection. 

To attract a specific pollinator to your yard, find out what plants they need or are most drawn to. Monarch butterflies enjoy nectar from many plants but only lay their eggs on milkweed. The color red attracts hummingbirds and bees are drawn to a variety of flowers, especially blue, purple, white and yellow.  

 Make a list and then head out to a local garden center or nursery.  A few things to keep in mind:  

  • Plant flowers in groups. Pollinators are drawn to bunches of flowering plants; much easier than  searching through the garden for a single plant.   
  • Provide flowering plants for each season. Some pollinators do migrate, so you may only see them once or twice a year as they pass through. However, there are plenty of pollinators that will visit year-round in search of food. As flowers die back in spring, add plants that will bloom throughout the summer, and so on. 

Start simple. Do you have plants that provide pollen and nectar? Does your yard provide shelter and water? Is your garden safe from harsh chemicals? Great! Sounds like you’ve started a pollinator garden.   

I live in an apartment or condo. How can I help pollinators?  

Good news! While bigger is better, small spaces can still provide value for pollinators. Container gardens work well on balconies and patios, especially if they are complemented by a nearby water source and wild native vegetation like oak trees and beautyberry. And they count towards the Village Challenge, too – don’t forget to register!  

I registered my garden before June 1, 2020. Do I need to register it again? 

No need to register again. While the Village Challenge officially kicked off on June 1, 2020, nearly 40 residents had already registered their gardens. Those registrations have been counted towards the 2020 Village Challenge. However, if you’ve made improvements to your pollinator garden since you registered, we would love to hear about it. Send us an email, or better yet, share a photo with us at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

As of August 1, more than 100 residents have registered their pollinator gardens as part of the village challenge. Photo credit: Sarah Ferderer

How do I register my garden 

There are two options. You can submit your registration online, or you can download the form here and then send your completed registration to enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov.  Be sure to submit your garden registration by December 1, 2020 to be included in this year’s Village Challenge.   

So, register today, earn a point for your village and support pollinators. There are cash prizes on the line along with bragging rights for your village. Most importantly, you’ll be rewarded with a garden buzzing with activity you can enjoy year-round.   

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

Three out of four residents pledge every year to save water!

The annual Water Wise Village Challenge is about more than conserving water. When you pledge to turn off your sprinkler system for the winter (from October 15 to April 15), a lot of good things happen.  

More and more residents are finding their lawns are healthier than ever when they avoid overwatering and when they stop watering altogether in the winter. They’re saving money, too. Healthy lawns need fewer chemicals and they better withstand pests and disease. Remember Kevin? He said he hadn’t turned on his sprinkler system in over a year and his yard looked great! He simply follows the weekly watering recommendation he receives by email from Woodlands Water Agency  and sets out a manual sprinkler when needed. A hose-end spray nozzle for his flowerbeds does the rest. 

Want to read more about the changes Kevin took to reduce water use in his lawn and garden? Check out this article.

As the Challenge has grown, water savings in our community have grown with it. In 2019, the Challenge saved 11,600,000 gallons. That equals the amount of water that flows through the San Jacinto River in ten days. That’s a lot of water! 

Your Water Wise Village Challenge pledge not only serves your lawn and your pocketbook, it provides assistance to area college-bound students. The three villages with the greatest number of pledges receive cash donations for their scholarship funds. What a great way to demonstrate to our youth that natural resources are precious, and conservation is our gift to them.  

So, let’s see… 1. Water savings, 2. Healthier lawns, 3. Scholarship funds, 4. Support our community’s conservation ethic, 5. Fill in this blank with your own reason for becoming a water hero in your neighborhood!  

Pledge now, pledge every year, and be “that person” on your street who sets the standard for others. Join the movement and live in harmony with nature in The Woodlands Township and take the pledge for 2020-2021.

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

Free Online Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class

Now is the time to prep for fall planting so you can enjoy picking squash, broccoli, tomatoes and more from your own vegetable garden. If you’re new to gardening or looking for some tips to get the best harvest this year, don’t miss out on this upcoming opportunity to have your best garden this fall. 

The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department is excited to announce their first online educational program. The Fall Organic Vegetable Gardening Class will bring top notch information right to your own home on Saturday, July 25, 2020 from 9 a.m. to noon.   

Dr. Bob Randall, noted Houston vegetable gardening expert and published gardening author, will share his lifetime of vegetable gardening expertise in this Zoom webinar. Learn about garden site selection and preparation; plant selection based upon Montgomery County’s plant hardiness zone 9a; and appropriate organic gardening techniques. Dr. Randall’s many years of expertise in gardening education, community gardening and tending his personal vegetable garden are sure to provide an exciting and informative class. 

Dr. Bob Randall shares his tips on successfully growing tomatoes in Houston. 

To register for this free class and receive your webinar link, sign up here

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


Don’t miss out on upcoming events and classes. Subscribe here to receive reminders right to your inbox