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

It’s Backyard Composting Week!

Composting is natural recycling. Put your yard trimmings and kitchen scraps to work by creating nutrient rich homemade compost in your own back yard. This week the Environmental Services Department is focusing on backyard composting. Whether you are new to composting or have been doing it for years, we’ve got some great tips and resources to help you out.  

Benefits of Composting  

Learn how composting can add value to your home landscape. 

Composting During COVID-19 Fact Sheet 

Home composting is safe even in the current COVID-19 situation.  Find out more from the US Composting Council. 


Beginning Composter  

If you are thinking about composting but haven’t started yet, these resources are just for you. Need a quick start “how to compost” guide? In just a few minutes, National Geographic will teach you how to begin composting at home.

Click the photo above to watch the National Geographic Green Guide

Remember the essentials of composting by using this easy one-page guide from Texas A&M. 


Already Composting   

Learn how to enhance your composting skills with this informative webinar from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. 

Texas A&M’s “do it yourself” guide offers more information on backyard composting. 


Experienced Composter  

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance offers detailed home composting information in this 1.5-hour webinar. 

Compost Bins for Sale

To help you get started with backyard composting, The Woodlands Township is offering high quality collapsible compost bins for only $50. If purchased online, these bins retail for $150-$200. Call The Woodlands Township 281-210-3800, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. to purchase.  Bin pick up is available by appointment.  Happy Composting! 

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

Fall in Love with Leaves

Its Fall! Time for cool mornings and pumpkin spice everything. And, while nothing says fall like fallen leaves, sometimes they can feel like a barrage.  If you’re thinking there’s got to be a better way to deal with those leaves than hauling bag after bag to the curb, you’re right. Here are three things to consider as you tackle the autumnal abundance.

Rake Into Beds

The best place for leaves is right on the ground – raked under your trees and shrubs or mowed into the lawn. This returns nutrients back to the soil and provides shelter to caterpillars and other overwintering insects. Come spring these insects will get to work as natural pest control in the garden, and they in turn will feed new clutches of baby birds. This native mulch also suppresses weeds and holds in soil moisture. A great return for “leaving the leaves”.

If all your landscape beds have a 3-4″ layer and you still have leaves here are some good options:

  • Start or feed a compost pile (scroll to the end for a downloadable manual)
  • Heap up 6-8″ in a corner along with branches and hollow stems for a simple insect hotel
  • Stockpile to put around tender shrubs as insulation over the winter

If you regularly contend with a lot of leaves, consider sucking instead of blowing. Units that vacuum and shred leaves as you go really help reduce the volume and small pieces break down faster into rich compost wherever they end up.

Out of Drains & Gutters

One place leaves don’t belong is in the stormwater system. Don’t blow leaves into the drain, its illegal! Stormwater flows untreated into local waterways and all that extra debris depletes oxygen, reducing water quality for fish, dragonfly naiads and a host of other aquatic organisms.

After a rain check for needles, sticks and other debris that may be lodged in driveway culverts and drain inlets near your house. Keeping the stormwater system clear reduces flooding. It also prevents formation of small, stagnant puddles ripe for mosquito breeding.

Fall is a great time to check those gutters, too. Pay special attention to sections under trees as well as roof valleys (where two sections of roof join). As these areas fill with debris you risk damage to the roof and you create more ideal mosquito breeding sites, right at your doorstep.

Fun with Leaves

Albert Camus wrote “Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” There are 168 words to describe leaf shape, arrangement, venation, and edges; take some time to delight in the variety. Have a leaf scavenger hunt or make a leaf print bookmark. Learn the language of leaves.

Leaf Print Bookmark

  1. Collect leaves from the neighborhood that have interesting shapes or vein patterns
  2. Use a brayer, roller, or brush to apply paint to the underside of a leaf. Do it sparingly so that the texture appears
  3. Place painted side down on a heavy sheet of paper or cardstock
  4. Cover with a scrap piece of paper and use a rolling pin or straight-sided can to press the leaf down evenly
  5. Remove the scrap paper and peel the leaf back gently from the stem end
  6. Let the print dry and embellish with doodles, stickers, glitter or stamps
  7. Punch a hole at one end and loop through a piece of ribbon or yard to complete the bookmark

Other ways to use the leaf print technique:

  • Decorate brown kraft paper for a tablecloth or placemats
  • Stamp over newsprint for recycled wrapping paper

Check out the Texas A&M Forest service for help identifying native trees.

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

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

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