Green Tips

Don’t Add Mulch Until Your Perennial Plants are Up!

It’s a great idea to add mulch to your flower beds and around trees and shrubs. Mulch conserves water and moderates soil temperatures. But if you are thinking of adding a new layer, wait until your perennial plants have sprouted back up. For more information, see:

Cleaning Your Drains after the Holidays… The Green Way

Holiday cooking may have left you with clogged or foul-smelling drains. Extra grease and oils may be part of the cause. Try a natural cleaner, using ingredients such as baking powder, vinegar and salt to keep your drains clean and prevent sewers from overflowing into Galveston Bay waterways. Click on Howstuffworks.com’s How to Unclog a Drain for the recipes.  Also, check out ceasethegrease.net to learn to prevent grease clogs in the first place!

Celebrate America Recycles Day Every Day!

November 15th is America Recycles Day. Celebrate every day by practicing the Four Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle, and rebuy. For more information and tips, go to the America Recycles Day webpage. If you do not have curbside service, you can find recycling locations at Earth911.com.

Plant Trees Now!

Want to improve the environment and save on energy costs? Plant trees! Native trees and suitable non-invasive adapted trees planted on the south and west sides of your house can provide needed shade and reduce temperatures and your electric bill. Trees also reduce soil erosion, take up carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and provide habitat for beneficial insects, birds, and other animals.

Planting trees in the Fall gives them a good head start on being established before the heat of next summer. Click on the links to learn more:

Conserve Water the Easy Way! Take a “Navy” Shower

There are easy ways you can conserve water all the time. One way is to take a “Navy” shower. This is also known by other names but simply means turning off the water while you are soaping up or shampooing. You can save thousands of gallons of water and money, too.  The less water we use, the more for our rivers and the bay!  See the Alliance for Water Efficiency’s webpage on “Residential Shower and Bath” for more info on this great tip and others!

A Really Simple Tool to Help You Keep from Wasting Water, and Money, Outdoors!

Portions of the Galveston Bay area are slipping into a moderate drought and the hot days of summer are right around the corner. While we become more aware of water shortages during drought, you can always take easy steps to keep from wasting this precious resource. Much of the waste happens during outdoor watering of lawns and other landscapes. We apply way more water than is needed! Here is a simple tool that you can use to save water, save the environment, and save money!

Texas Agrilife Extension Service’s Irrigation Technology Program – It’s an online tool that helps you determine how much water you should place on your lawn. Follow these steps after you go to the link:

  1. click on the Houston Area in blue on the map;
  2. click on the currently online weather station that is closest to your location;
  3. click on “Home Watering” button and follow the directions to calculate how much water to apply over the next 14 days.

Plan a Green Spring Break!

Are you making plans for the kid’s coming spring break?  Are you staying close to home?  Perfect.  Take them to one or more of our many wonderful local nature centers, preserves, state and local parks, or wildlife refuges.  Or, when was the last time you took your kids fishing?  We know some spots!  This is a good tip for big kids, too.  So even if you don’t have younger ones in the house, head outside yourself!

Nature Centers, Education Centers, etc.

State Parks

Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Management Areas

Find fishing access locations using the GLO’s Texas Beach and Bay Access Guide.

Weatherize Your Home and Help the Bay!

Cold fronts continue to make their way to the Upper Texas Gulf Coast, leaving us shivering.  Weatherize your home to cut your heating costs now and for many winters to come…  and help the bay the bay at the same time.

By simply adding attic insulation, sealing cracks and gaps in door and windows, and tuning up your heating system, you can make heating your home more efficient and help reduce the amount of energy that needs to be produced at our local power plants.   That means less fossil fuel emissions to the air and less atmospheric deposition of those same pollutants to Galveston Bay.

If you use a wood burning fireplace, please make sure the chimney is clean of sooty deposits so it performs safely and more efficiently.  When you are not using your fireplace, close the flue and block the hearth to prevent heat from escaping up the chimney.

Visit Take Care of Texas – Around the House to learn more.

Are Freezes Zapping Your Landscape and Gardens? Give Native Plants a Try!

There are many reasons to use native plants in your landscapes and gardens: beauty, low maintenance, less need for watering, fertilizers, and pesticides.  And they provide food and shelter for our resident species of birds, furry creatures, and beneficial insects.  One other thing they can do very well is withstand our freezes!  Unlike many of the exotic and tropical plants typically available in the retail trade, native plants are suited to our climate including the cold weather we can experience at this time of year.  You can find native plants!  More and more retailers offer and even specialize in them.

While natives and non-natives may not look great after a freeze, established natives will spring back much better than tropicals.  In fact, many natives do just fine, and some like native yaupon holly even provide more palatable food to birds and other animals after a freeze.  With natives, you do not need to spend hours covering and uncovering them when the temperatures drop.  With most, you can cut back the dead plant material at the right time and watch it come back in the spring!

Click the following links to learn more about native plants and where to find them: