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.

Summer Lawn Issues

Many of you are concerned about your lawns right now, as large brown areas are starting to show up as the summer heats up. I would encourage all of you to do an irrigation audit first, to determine if it is water-related. Never “assume” that all is being watered equally.  Instructions for an easy, DIY irrigation audit can be found HERE. There are certain lawn issues that show up at specific times of the year, and there are specific times to treat them. For instance, we only see chinch bugs in [...]

By |2018-08-01T14:51:22+00:00July 23rd, 2018|Lawn Care|

Lawn Irrigation Made Simple

Lawn Irrigation Most of us cringe when asked how much and how often we should water our lawns. Well, cringe no more! There is a very simple way to determine how long to run our lawn irrigation, and a simpler way to determine how often to run it!  Better yet, once you determine the “magic number”, you will not have to do it again! (I know that most people pick a “magic number” out of the sky to determine how long your sprinkler will run.) No more guesswork! Each lawn [...]

By |2018-08-01T15:06:03+00:00July 23rd, 2018|Lawn Care|

Chinch Bugs

Chinch Bugs Explained Here it is, the end of summer, and the hottest days are upon us. Many lawns have been showing signs of stress, and chinch bugs could be one of the culprits. They typically begin feeding in sunny areas along sidewalks and driveways, sucking juices from the grass blades and leaving yellowing grass bordering green grass. At the same time they are feeding, they inject a poison that causes the blades to turn brown and die. Chinch bugs will feed on many grass species, but St. Augustine and [...]

By |2018-08-01T15:10:23+00:00July 23rd, 2018|Insects, Lawn Care|

Bagworms

All About Bagworms Bagworms have a fascinating life cycle! After hatching, each caterpillar spins a silk and leaf “bag” around itself. These bags are protective against predators, and are easily carried by the caterpillar as it crawls around feeding on trees and shrubs. If you see one of these little bags moving, look closely and you will see the head and front legs peeking out of the front of the bag. The caterpillars feed and grow throughout the summer, then pupate in August or September. The male emerges as a [...]

By |2018-08-01T15:12:50+00:00July 16th, 2018|Insects|

Beyond Cactus for Your Xeriscape

Your Xeriscape Tutorial Anyone who is stuck watering their lawn (or with the water bill) over our long, hot summers can probably appreciate the notion of a nice xeriscape. Cacti are a popular choice for xeriscaping, are well-suited for hot and dry weather, and look sharp (pun intended) in many different settings. They are not the only choice, however. There are many drought-tolerant plants and shrubs that can be added into a water-wise landscape. There are also several plants that are just as low-maintenance as cactus. Click the links to [...]

By |2018-08-01T15:16:32+00:00July 12th, 2018|Plants|

Texas Ranger

July 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 |2018-07-04T21:12:39+00:00July 4th, 2018|Plants|

Vines for Central Texas

Vines are used for many different purposes in the landscape. We might want to cover a fence to provide a screen, attract hummingbirds with a flowering vine, or just provide aesthetic appeal. Fortunately, we have a plethora of vines to choose from. Some things to consider before choosing a vine are its mature size, whether it requires sun or shade, if it is an annual or perennial, evergreen, deciduous, herbaceous, whether it climbs using tendrils, “holdfasts” by twining, and what attributes it can contribute to the landscape. CLICK HERE for [...]

By |2018-06-25T12:13:16+00:00June 25th, 2018|Plants|

Pruning Blackberries

One of the most common questions I am asked is “How do I prune my blackberries?” That is a very relevant question, however, it is usually asked at the WRONG time of the year! So I have decided to take the “mystery” out of pruning blackberries! There are a few simple facts you will need to know before pruning your blackberries. Blackberries are unique in that they have perennial roots and biennial tops. The tops (canes) live for two years, then die! Blackberries have two kinds of canes: *Primocanes: these [...]

By |2018-06-17T17:03:49+00:00June 17th, 2018|Plants|

My Crape Myrtles Aren’t Blooming!

Every year I get several inquiries about why someone’s Crape Myrtle is not blooming. There are several conditions that might affect a Crape Myrtle’s bloom period. Read the causes below to help figure out why yours don’t bloom. *Different varieties begin blooming at different times. Natchez (white) is usually one of the first to begin blooming. Some varieties may not begin blooming until late June. *Crape Myrtles require at least 8 hours of direct sun to bloom. If your Crape Myrtle receives too much shade, it will not bloom. *Insects [...]

By |2018-06-13T21:52:00+00:00June 13th, 2018|Trees|

Blossom-End Rot

If you have ever had the “blossom end” of a tomato turn black, you have experienced “blossom-end rot”. Caused by cultural conditions, and NOT disease, this malady can affect tomatoes, peppers, squash, watermelon and eggplant. Researchers agree that it is caused by a calcium deficiency in the blossom end of the fruit (yes, these are technically fruits, as they are actually formed from the ovary of a flower!) Now, why there is a deficiency is the real question, as Central Texas soils and water supplies are seldom deficient in calcium. [...]

By |2018-06-13T21:15:57+00:00June 13th, 2018|Uncategorized|

Grapes for Central Texas

Backyard grape growing has become very popular in recent years in Central Texas. Both table grapes and grapes for producing wine are available to the homeowner. I am a jelly-maker, and have enjoyed Black Spanish Grapes for my jelly-making endeavors in the past. It truly makes a very flavorful jelly! Here are the grapes we have available this year for you to grow: ‘Blanc duBois’ is a white table grape which grows on a vigorous vine. The grape clusters are medium-sized and ripen in June to July in Central Texas. [...]

By |2018-06-05T22:26:08+00:00June 5th, 2018|Fruit & Nuts|

Lacebug

There are many species of Lacebugs that can become abundant on certain host plants in certain years. (Do not confuse these with “LaceWINGS”, which are bright green, winged beneficial insects. Lacewing larvae eat aphids!) This year we have seen the destructive pest, Lacebug, on Texas Persimmon, Lantana and Elm trees. Watch for them on Azalea, Texas Sage, Pyracantha, Redbud, Bur Oak and Sycamore as well. Adult lace bugs are 1/8” to ¼” long and appear flattened. The wings are lace-like, and appear clear. Usually a plant infested with Lacebugs will [...]

By |2018-06-05T22:22:12+00:00June 5th, 2018|Insects|