About Mary Kay Pope

Mary Kay is an asset to Backbone and a wealth of knowledge! Many customers come in and ask for her by name for all their plant questions. It's no wonder why, as Mary Kay has 43 years of experience in the horticulture field. She holds a B.S. in Horticulture from Ohio State University, and a TMCNP and a TCLP from Texas Association of Nurserymen, and a Specialist in Urban Trees Certification from Texas A&M.

Brown Patch on Lawns

Brown Patch is a fungus that shows up in our lawns in the spring and fall, when temperatures begin to cool. Because it needs cool, moist conditions, we do not see brown patch fungus in the summer. If you have had brown patch in your lawn in the past, it is likely you will see it again once conditions are right for it to develop. St. Augustine is most often infected, but Bermuda and Zoysia will become infected under the right conditions. Over-watered and over-fertilized lawns are more susceptible to [...]

By | 2017-10-11T14:33:28+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Lawn Care|

Beneficial Nematodes

Beneficial nematodes are microscopic, whitish to transparent, unsegmented worms. There are thousands of kinds of nematodes, each with their particular feeding preferences. Nematodes actively search for insects, insect pupa and insect larvae in places that are consistently moist. There are more than 250 susceptible insect species, including white grubs, termites, Peach tree borers, fire ants, stink bugs, fleas, chinch bugs, field crickets and flea beetles. What does this mean to you? Nematodes can be used instead of chemicals to control lawn and garden pests. Backbone Valley Nursery sells and recommends [...]

By | 2017-10-11T12:58:43+00:00 October 11th, 2017|Uncategorized|

October Gardening Check List

The best tree and shrub planting season continues now through mid-March. Root systems will continue to grow all winter long, giving you a fairly well-established plant by the time the real heat sets in. A better established root system conserves water and is more drought resistant next year. (It is also easier on YOU,  as you will be watering less often in the winter!) Try planting some spring-flowering trees and shrubs such as azaleas, redbuds, Mexican plums, anacacho orchid trees, and Texas scarlet flowering quince. -Don’t miss the fall fertilization [...]

By | 2017-10-05T14:55:30+00:00 October 5th, 2017|Lawn Care, Plants, Vegetable Gardening|

Cool Season Color

Pansies are one of the most rewarding plants for cool-season planting. They require 6-8 hours of sun, and a soil enriched with compost. Remember that winter is their season, and that they are HEAVY feeders. Fertilize monthly with NutriStar Color Star time-release fertilizer, and the blooms will never stop. I have had them bloom in an ice storm! Dead-head the fading flowers when possible to encourage more blooms, and you will be greatly rewarded. Violas are one of my favorite winter bloomers. They will tolerate part sun (even dappled shade) [...]

By | 2017-09-26T15:23:30+00:00 September 26th, 2017|Plants|

Mum’s the Word

Most of us think of mums as a fall flower to welcome in the cooler weather in a pot by the front door. They certainly pair well with pumpkins as a fall decoration! When grown in a container, mums do not need additional fertilizer. Regular watering is a must, as wilting shortens the life of the flowers. Be sure to soak the soil thoroughly, and do not let water stand in a saucer beneath the pot. Daily soaking is often required. Water the soil, not the plant. Water on the [...]

By | 2017-09-20T16:16:55+00:00 September 20th, 2017|Plants|

Fall Pre-Emergent

"Be proactive about weeds in your lawn.....not reactive!" It's that time to put out pre-emergent herbicides. What is that you ask? Pre-emergent herbicides are usually applied twice a year to lawns and established flower beds to prevent weed seeds from germinating. Timing of application is key! We apply the fall application around mid to late September when our fall rains come (and we know the cool-season weeds will appear). Pre-emergent herbicides are much safer to use around surrounding trees and plants than "weed and feed" type fertilizers. Many “Weed and Feed" products contain [...]

By | 2017-09-15T15:25:54+00:00 September 14th, 2017|Lawn Care|

September Gardening Checklist

Vegetable Gardens:  If you haven’t already removed your old vegetable plants from spring, now is the time to do so! Compost whatever does not have disease or insects, and discard the rest. This is your “window” to add amendments to your garden! Choose from Ladybug Revitalizer Compost Blend, Raised Bed Blend, or Earthworm castings. The Ground Up product, Vegan Compost, provides composted native plants and organic vegetable products. Compost will add needed nutrients and texture to your soil, improving moisture holding capacity, microbe activity, and production. If you have not [...]

By | 2017-09-05T14:41:33+00:00 September 5th, 2017|Lawn Care, Vegetable Gardening|

Growing Bougainvilleas in Central Texas

I am so fond of having Bougainvilleas in pots in my landscape. Nothing really compares to the riot of color that they can produce during the heat of the summer. Add that to the fact that they are so easy to care for, and we have a real winner on our hands. Simply familiarize yourself with their needs, and you will have vivid color in your yard, too! Bougainvilleas require at least 5 hours of sun each day in order to bloom well. Because they bloom on new growth, promoting [...]

By | 2017-08-30T17:13:50+00:00 August 30th, 2017|Plants|

Midges are a Nuisance!

There are a lot of perks that come with living near a lake or pond, especially in Texas. But in addition to swimming and boating, your summers might include large populations of mosquito-looking insects hatching in hordes! They infiltrate your outdoor spaces, fly in your mouth and up your nose, turn your patio into a dark mess of squashed bugs, hover around your porch lights, and generally cause a huge nuisance! Aquatic midges, also known as non-biting midges, are related to flies but look like mosquitoes. Females lay their eggs [...]

By | 2017-08-24T13:10:43+00:00 August 24th, 2017|Insects|

Texas Ranger

August is the perfect time to look around your neighborhood and see what is thriving in this oppressive Central Texas heat. If you have been thinking about planting in a new area, adding screening or simply rejuvenating an existing landscape, observing what does well at the hottest time of the year should give you some great ideas of what will thrive in years to come. Texas Ranger, also known as Texas Sage, Cenizo, or Barometer Bush, has been giving us a particularly good show the past week. Abundant flowers appear [...]

By | 2017-08-15T15:53:25+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Plants|

Preparing for a Fall Garden

It is so easy to get excited about planting a fall garden. The garden is looking bare from pulling out the old, tired plants from spring, and the thought of fresh broccoli and lettuce is making me hungry! So, let’s get started! Whether you have an existing garden or are establishing a new one, the preparation is basically the same. First, determine if your soil is clay-like, sandy or gravelly. Each type of soil requires a different type of amendment strategy, as well as a different fertilization program. Clay Soil as [...]

By | 2017-08-17T12:30:15+00:00 August 15th, 2017|Vegetable Gardening|

Planting for Butterflies

Working in a nursery certainly has its advantages. When the butterflies are out in force, it is a show-stopping display! Most of you know that butterflies have less specific “nectar” plants for the adult butterflies and more specific “food” plants for the caterpillars. It is interesting that the adults will often scope out where to lay their eggs while they are feeding on nectar. For this reason, it is helpful to have some of the “food” plants nearby when planting your nectar garden. An example of a “food” plant for [...]

By | 2017-08-09T11:56:04+00:00 August 9th, 2017|Insects|