A few reminders…

…Your trash and recycling schedule may be impacted by the Thanksgiving holiday

Thanksgivign trash service 2018

…Minimize the risk of freeze damage and winterize your irrigation system

It’s time to drain and turn off irrigation systems. Watch this video for a step-by-step guide.

…Take the Water-Wise Village Challenge

Once you shut off your irrigation system, be sure to take The Woodlands Water-Wise Village Challenge. By doing so, you not only help conserve water, but also help your village earn points toward its scholarship fund.  Pledge to take the challenge here.

Healthier lawns, cleaner streams

One thoughtful action can help promote both: Think before you fertilize. All too often, lawns are fertilized too heavily, at the wrong time, or when they don’t need it at all—thanks to the formidable marketing efforts by fertilizer companies. Instead of automatically reaching for your spreader, consider what your lawn really needs and the consequences of over-fertilization.

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Know what your lawn needs

Timing. The time to fertilize a lawn is when it’s growing more roots than blades; and to know when that is, know the type of grass in the lawn. Grass can be categorized in two ways: warm-season or cool-season. These terms refer to the weather in which the grass has adapted to grow. Turf grasses most common in our area, St. Augustine, Zoysia and Bermuda, are all warm-season grasses and start their growth in spring, making that the best time for fertilization.

Fall is when these grasses go dormant making fertilizers moot. Fertilizing at the wrong time can actually be harmful. Feeding your warm-season turf nitrogen in fall can force new top growth making the lawn susceptible to frost, shock and disease. What’s more is that this takes away energy from root growth, leading to weak, thin lawns.

No matter what, always follow a fertilizer’s instructions exactly when it comes to application.

Test it. Having said all this, don’t assume you need to fertilize every spring. The only way to know what nutrients your soil is lacking is to have your soil tested. Instructions for how to take a soil sample and the form for sending it to Texas A&M for analysis can be found with this link: Soil Test Form.

Go organic. If you find your soil needs supplemental nutrients for turf grass, consider using organic instead of synthetic fertilizers. Unlike synthetic fertilizers, organic fertilizers don’t create high levels of salts which kill beneficial soil organisms—the key to good soil health. And organic fertilizers work slowly, wasting nothing. They also improve soil texture making it easier for air to get to the roots and helping the soil retain water longer.

Organic forms of fertilizers include:

  • Alfalfa meal
  • Bat guano
  • Fish emulsion
  • Cotton seed meal
  • Seaweed
  • Manure
  • Compost

Refer to Best Organic Fertilizers for a full list of organic fertilizers and what they specifically offer.

How does this affect the quality of streams?

When quick-release synthetic fertilizers are over used, the chemicals are washed from our lawns in a downpour. The polluted run-off is channeled into the nearest waterway via storm drains, untreated and unfiltered. This water in turn contaminates our creeks, rivers and groundwater. High concentrations of nitrogen in water can also lead to an algae overgrowth, threatening the health of aquatic life.

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Currently, over 80% of waterways in Texas are listed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as “impaired,” creating poor habitat for aquatic organisms such as fish and turtles. High bacteria levels are another culprit and may lead to restrictions on water-contact recreation, such as  swimming and wading, fishing, and kayaking.

Other ways to help keep our water clean:

  • Pick up pet waste—it’s the number one source of bacteria in our waterways.
  • Maintain cars so they don’t leak oil and other chemicals onto driveways.
  • Compost, compost, compost.
  • Never flush unwanted or out-of-date medicines down the toilet or drain.
  • Minimize areas of turf grass and pavement while increasing areas of native plants
  • Install a rain garden

For more information about lawn care, download Guide to Yard Care, by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

To learn more about water conservation in The Woodlands, visit The Woodlands Township’s Water Conservation webpage.

Water Conservation Yard Sign 3

Every drop counts

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The news is the same everywhere: growing populations require more water, and the supply is limited. Add the changing climate to the mix and we can bank on more frequent and persistent periods of drought. Finding new water sources and ways to supply that water are too often economically out of reach. All this is driving more cities and municipalities across the country to move beyond temporary drought measures and adopt permanent changes to how available water is used.

Some of the more common policies, such as prohibiting washing driveways or vehicles at your home, banning water runoff from your yard, and even outlawing irrigation altogether are challenging some communities with change.

Home irrigation is the number one contributing factor to water waste.

Irrigation is the water-hog at homes across America. Not only is it the biggest use of our water supply, studies show that most homeowners over-water landscapes by as much as two to three times the amount needed.

Water Use Pie Chart

Did you know? According to USGS, when you consider water use in all sectors nationwide–not just residential–irrigation is among the top three. A full 24% of all the water used across America is to water our landscapes, third only to the entire public supply (30.5%) and all industrial use (27.6%).

Currently, in The Woodlands, the Woodlands Joint Powers Agency (WJPA) and the 10 Municipal Utility Districts it represents, require residents to follow the Defined Irrigation Schedule. Even numbered houses can water Wednesday and Saturday only, and odd numbered houses are limited to Tuesday and Friday. All homes must irrigate between the hours of  8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. only. Remember: Starting mid-October, residents are encouraged to turn off irrigation systems through mid-April. There are no plans to discontinue the Defined Irrigation Schedule, at this time, and it will continue indefinitely.

There is good news…The Woodlands residents have embraced this policy and have made a big impact on water conservation. Two white papers, published by National Wildlife Federation and Sierra Club, have praised The Woodlands and its residents for exemplary work in water conservation. The Woodlands has also received several coveted state awards for water conservation. Nice going!

Since the inception of the irrigation schedule policy, The Woodlands residents have saved approximately
10 billion gallons of water.

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For more information, visit the Water Conservation page of The Woodlands Township Environmental Services Department website at www.thewoodlandstownship-tx.gov/waterconservation .

Plant for Pollinators and Water Savings at Free Workshop this Sat!

 

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Plant with a Purpose!

Join us for this free workshop and learn how to create habitat in your landscape while saving water at the same time.

We’ll delve into:

  • Importance of keeping invasive species at bay – 8:15 a.m.
  • Wonders of pollinators and how to attract them – 9:45 a.m.
  • Many benefits of native plants including water conservation – 10:45 a.m.
  • Best methods for seed collecting and propagation of the plants you love – 12:45 a.m.

Attend one or more FREE sessions – click here to save your spot.

Experts from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Texas Master Naturalists will lead each session.

HARC Building (1)

DETAILS:

  • Saturday, June 23 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
    • Join us for all or part of the program
    • Lunch provided
  • HARC Building, 8801 Gosling Rd, The Woodlands
  • Free but registration is required – click here to save your spot 

 

Thank you to our sponsors:

Houston Advanced Research Center, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Texas Master Naturalists, Woodlands Joint Powers Agency

 

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