It’s never too late to save water and get your lawn healthy! And those are only two of the benefits of participating in the annual Water Wise Village Challenge.
Each year The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department challenges residents to stop watering their lawn from mid-October through mid-April. Our St. Augustine yards need to go dormant this time of year in order to develop their root systems; it helps them fight off disease and pests the rest of the year. Irrigating during the cool months prevents this.
Saving water is a big win. Additionally, when residents pledge, their village gets a point in the competition for scholarship funds. Regardless of which villages win, you can’t lose. Take the pledge, save money, save water and have a healthier lawn. There is no downside for this challenge when you promise not to water turfgrass. How about pledging right now before you forget? You can make your pledge online in just about two minutes HERE. Watch for the results to be announced in May.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com
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.
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.
Residents are encouraged to support pollinators by registering their garden or yard in the newest Village Challenge. The Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge aims to raise awareness about the importance of pollinators and how habitat creation can support pollinator populations. Many pollinators, including monarch butterflies, have seen a significant decline in the last few decades due to overuse of pesticides and herbicides and loss of habitat. Take action today to protect bees, butterflies, moths and many more pollinators.
Registered gardens provide the basic needs of pollinators, including food, shelter and water in a chemical free zone. The garden registration form highlights the many ways you can help pollinators, like offering nectar-producing plants for every season, leaving bare ground for burrowing insects and providing host plants so insects can lay eggs. The form is a great guide for those looking to start a pollinator garden offering many options including native plant lists, shelter ideas and water sources.
Registrations received from June 1, 2020 through December 1, 2020 will count towards the 2020 Plant for Pollinators Village Challenge. Each registration earns a point for your Village Association. Program sponsors, The Woodlands G.R.E.E.N. and Project PolliNation, will contribute scholarship money to the three Village Associations with the most points. When you register your garden, you will receive a Plant for Pollinators window cling in appreciation. Find the garden registration form at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/plantforpollinators.
Check out these past articles to learn more about local pollinators:
More than 500 households took the pledge to turn off their sprinklers from October 15, 2019 through April 15, 2020. Each pledge earned their village a point and a chance to win a monetary donation towards their scholarship fund as part of the annual Water Wise Village Challenge.
Turning off your sprinklers during the winter not only conserves water, it creates healthier lawns in the spring. The most common turf grass in our area, St. Augustine, goes dormant during the cooler months to conserve energy and strengthen its roots. Rainfall alone provides all the water it needs during this period. In fact, too much water will weaken grass, making it more susceptible to disease and pests when spring rolls around.
Now put your hands together for the 2019-2020 Water Wise Village Challenge Winners:
First Place – Village of College Park
Second Place – Village of Creekside Park
Third Place – Village of Sterling Ridge
Congratulations to these villages, but remember, everyone who saved water is a winner!
If you missed out on this year’s village challenge, be sure to check back in August and make the pledge to turn off your sprinkler for winter 2020-2021. Visit www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/environment for more information on Water Conservation and the Water Wise Village Challenge.
Turning off your sprinkler is just one simple way to save water around the house. Check out these resources for more easy ways to save water at home.