2022 Holiday Waste Guide: Service schedule updates and tips to make your holiday a little greener

There will be no interruption in curbside trash and recycling services during the Christmas and New Year holidays. All services will occur on their regularly scheduled day including yard trimmings and bulky trash pick-up.  

For trouble-free service this holiday season, please keep streets clear of parked cars to allow trucks to safely access carts, place carts at the curb by 7 a.m. and ensure cart lids close completely.  

The Woodlands Recycling Center at 5402 Research Forest Drive will be open on SaturdayDecember 24 and Saturday, December 31.  It will be open on Wednesday, December 21 and Wednesday, January 4 from 4 to 7 p.m. 

To report a missed pickup or schedule bulky trash pickup, please contact Waste Management Customer Service at 800-800-5804 or cssatex@wm.com.   


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)  
  • Each bag may weigh no more than 40 pounds.  


Christmas Tree Guidelines

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.  
  • Trees free of decorations may also be deposited at the Recreation Center at Rob Fleming Park, 6464 Creekside Forest Dr and Research Forest Park & Ride, 3900 Marsico Pl. These trees will be chipped and used for flooring at Texas TreeVentures.

Flocked Christmas Tree Disposal  

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

Quick Tips for a Greener Holiday 

Greetings cards and packages fill our homes and warm our hearts during the holidays. Consider these tips for a greener Christmas and reduce the amount of holiday tidings that end up in the landfill. 

  • Recycle plain wrapping paper and flattened cardboard boxes in your curbside cart. Check out these Recycling Tips for the Online Shopper for help deciphering which items can be recycled and which cannot. 
  • Give a second life to your clean, gently-used clothing, housewares, toys, furniture and appliances by donating to local charitable organizations. Items should be in good, usable condition. Check out The Woodlands Donation Guide for a list of local organizations accepting donation. Many organizations will pick up your items. If you have an item that is not specified in the guide, call first to assure it is accepted. 
  • Find new recycling opportunities for items that cannot be recycled in your curbside cart. Items such as used electronics, batteries, Styrofoam, light bulbs, eyeglasses, mattresses and more can all be recycled locally at participating locations. Check out the Recycle More Guide for a complete list of locations and phone numbers. 

If 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. Check this Eco-Friendly Gift Wrap Guide for sustainable wrapping tips. 


Questions or comments?

Email enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov

Add Beauty and Manage Rain with a Rain Garden 

Rain gardens are a great landscape feature that helps slow, collect, infiltrate and filter storm water. They are the best solution to turn a “problem” wet area in your yard into a real benefit. Designed for a low-lying area that collects rainwater you’ll find there are many benefits to a rain garden like transforming a bare, wet area into a green, blooming habitat that provides food and shelter for birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.  

Problem Solvers 

Increased stormwater runoff is the real problem. Add soil erosion to that and the result is vulnerability to flooding. Rain gardens can prevent both, helping to conserve water and soil.

Consider the water cycle shown above and then add human development to the picture. Humans create stormwater runoff when natural areas are developed, replacing them with a sea of impervious surfaces fragmenting our green spaces.  Within a developed residential area, pollutants such as fertilizers, herbicides, pet waste, and oil are washed from lawns, streets, and parking lots into local streams and drainage systems. 

How Rain Gardens Help 

While a single rain garden may seem inconsequential, it has great value. Rain gardens slow the water down allowing for it to be collected in the garden’s depression. Settling soil, silt and organic material that are washed by the water from higher ground are also captured and prevented from washing away. The captured water slowly filters back into the soil where it is needed most.  

As the water soaks into the soil, the deeply rooted plants in your rain garden act as a filter, removing pollutants from the stormwater. Now your rain garden has become a beautifully designed space in your yard with stunning plants that captures and treats stormwater!   

No need to worry that your rain garden will become a breeding area for mosquitoes. When designed correctly you should not have standing water that lasts longer than 72 hours. This is a much shorter time frame than the 7 required for most species of mosquitoes to develop and hatch from eggs laid in standing water. 

Rain garden basics 

Choose a site. Locate your garden in a low lying area of your landscape that tends to collect rain water and is at least 10 feet from your foundation. Choose a sunny or partially sunny spot. Also consider how it can be incorporated into your existing landscape replacing an area of traditional turf grass where the lawn slopes toward the street. An area that would catch roof run off or water from a down spout is perfect. If the rain garden is located on a slope, create a berm on the low side to retail water and soil. 

Compared to a patch of lawn, a rain garden allows 30% more water to soak in the ground. 

Test drainage. Test the location’s drainage before you create the bed. Dig a hole 8 to 12 inches deep and fill the hole with water. The water should soak in within 48 to 72 hours. Soils heavy in clay will drain much more slowly than soils heavier in loam, silt or sand. Amend sites heavy in clay with organic compost to improve the soil and help drainage. If the site doesn’t drain within 72 hours, choose another site. 

Start digging. Rain gardens can be any size, but a typical residential rain garden ranges from 100 to 300 square feet. The depth of the garden can range between four and eight inches. Anything too deep might pond water too long and if too shallow, it will require greater surface area to effectively manage water. 

Add plants. Choose a variety of native forbs and grasses, planting those with higher water tolerance in the middle of the garden. Include plants of varying heights and bloom times to maximize the garden’s depth, texture and color. Plant in groups of three to seven plants of a single species.  Go for diversity. In natural areas, a diversity of plant types not only adds beauty, but also creates thick underground root network that keeps the entire plant community in balance. 

The chart below includes plants for our area suitable for a rain garden. Planting zones are indicated as: 

Margin: the high edge around the rain garden that is the driest zone 
Median: the area between the margin and center 
Center: the middle of the garden that is deeper and will stay wet longest 

Help it flourish. Rain gardens can be maintained with little effort after plants are established. Weeding and some watering during dry periods will be needed the first two years. 

Need more information? Contact enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Your Guide to Feeding Birds this Winter

Winter months can be tough on our feathered friends. Cold temperatures require them to eat more in order to stay warm, water sources can freeze over, and nuts, berries and insects can be difficult to find. We’ve created the following tips so you can help backyard birds survive this winter. 

Choosing a Feeder 

Easy to clean Dirty feeders can harbor bacteria, mold and disease. Cleaning your feeders every week or two is ideal to keep things spotless for your increase of winter visitors. Clean feeders inside and out with soap and water and an old toothbrush or pipe cleaner to reach tight areas and small feeding holes. A weak bleach solution can be used for deeper sanitizing. Make sure the feeder is completely dry before refilling with seed.   

Good capacity Once birds find your feeder, they will expect there to be food each visit. Select a feeder with room to hold enough seed to last a few days so you won’t have to refill daily. If you know you’ll be travelling for a few days, remember to ask a neighbor or friend for help keeping your feeders filled.

Squirrel-proof Is that even a thing? Well, there are a few tricks to try before giving up. Some have success with squirrel-proof feeders, but if you already have a feeder you love try adding a squirrel baffle. Seeds and suets seasoned with hot pepper are worth a try – squirrels and other rodents should find the capsaicin too irritating to enjoy the seed, but the birds don’t mind it at all.  

Example of a Squirrel Baffle. Photo Source: Birds&Blooms.com

Choosing Seed 

Species specific According to The National Audubon Society, black oil sunflower seeds appeal to more birds than any other type of seed. They’re high in fat, providing much needed energy and the small size and thin shells are easy for small birds to crack open.  Trying to attract a specific bird? Check out the Seed and Feed Chart below. Sunflower hearts, millet, and suet cakes are other crowd flock-to favorites. 

Choose quality Cheaper seed mixes often include a larger portion of filler seed that your birds might ignore or toss aside. Deciding what’s a good or a bad seed mix for you is as simple as making sure it attracts the birds you want. Need help finding a quality product you can trust? Visit a wild bird supply store for assistance from experienced staff.  

Storage Seed has a shelf life. Look for the expiration date on the packaging and select the freshest mix you can find. Use an air-tight container to keep seed fresh and safe from pests, heat and humidity. If your bird seed smells musty, has gotten wet, is discolored or if there is any evidence of mold it should be discarded  

Provide Warmth and Water 

Supply Fresh Water A shallow, easy to clean water source is vital to birds. Check your water regularly to keep it clean and ensure it hasn’t frozen over.  

Provide Shelter Bird houses, dense shrubs, and tall grasses provide a warm place for birds to rest. They are also great places to escape from predators. Winter is a great time to plan for spring garden plantings. Select fruit and nut producing shrubs to provide food and shelter for your feathered friends year-round.

For more resources on creating a bird-friendly yard, contact Environmental Services at enviro@thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov 

Run from water waste with good habits

Do your kids turn off the faucet while brushing their teeth? It can save about 4 gallons of water! These habits add up – over the course of a week a family can save enough water to fill a regular trash can. Wouldn’t you rather use that water? Give the kids a hug and encourage their pride in being good stewards of a vital natural resource.

Kids seem to do better than adults at maintaining good habits when they understand the benefits and their actions are rewarded with praise. The rest of us may need a sticky note on the ‘fridge! Consider this your sticky note.

At least once a year, check for dripping water. Even a small leak makes a big impact on  your water bill. Over time you could be paying for hundreds of gallons of water you aren’t using.

Indoors:

  • Look at faucets and taps in kitchens and bathrooms
  • Check under sinks and inside cabinets for wet spots
  • Remember to check faucets in tubs and shower heads
  • Inspect clothes- and dishwasher connections that can develop leaks over time

Outside:

  • Check  spigots and hose ends
  • Ditto for sprinklers attached to a hose
  • For automated systems, check sprinkler heads for leaks, one sign is taller or greener grass, another is places where the ground is perpetually wet
  • Install a rain sensor, if your controller doesn’t have one, to keep sprinklers off when it rains – what a waste that is

Leaks and dripping faucets are easy to ignore but costly.  How about checking right now to be sure it’s not happening right under your nose. Good habits prevent wasted water, so thank you for being a good water steward! Here’s a virtual hug for you.