About 40 percent of the water used by utility customers in S Arizona goes to water the plants outside the house, so experts are hoping more people will embrace the concept of xeriscape gardening in our region. It encourages features like native or desert-adapted plants in natural settings to make better use of our limited precipitation. This year the 8th annual Xeriscape Contest is being sponsored by the Tucson Botanical Gardens (www.tucsonbotanical.org) and the Arizona Department of Water Resources. Sponsors say you can have a beautiful and environmentally-friendly garden on your property.