I have a landscape business and have decided to branch out into lawn renovation and maintenance. The list of grass varieties and the claims made on how well they grow are baffling. Is there any way to sort out the information? — Via the Internet


There is an incredible resource in place designed to answer just the questions you have. The National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) is coordinated by the National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. (non-profit) and the USDA. This program has research sites in 40 states and 6 Canadian provinces. Each site studies turfgrass species appropriate to that climate, warm-season and cool-season grasses. Their goal is to provide local turf managers with data specific to their climates. Within those species, numerous varieties of grasses are rated on quality, color, density, disease and insect resistance as well as tolerance to heat, cold, drought and traffic. Program coordinators at each site usually hold annual field days to show off their current studies and reports are published in paper form and are available online at



I am building a water garden and am somewhat confused over how deep the water has to be to support the water lilies and other water plants we intend to grow. Are there any rules to follow? — Via the Internet


Aquatic plants are generally divided into four categories: deep-water plants, bog or marginal plants, oxygenators or submerged plants and floating. Each has its own requirements. Deep-water plants need to have roots at 18 inches deep or more. For winter hardy plants, the colder the climate, the deeper the water should be. Bog or marginal plants grow at the edge of the pond and generally have their pots sitting just in the water or completely covered but not deep. Oxygenators grow under the water and help keep the algae population in control. Floating plants don't have pots, just roots floating under water. For these last two categories, depth is not important.

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