When it comes to watering your lawn and paying water bills, sound gardening practices can cut down homeowner investments of effort, time and money, reports the American Association of Nurserymen. And, you don't have to turn your lovely colorful landscape into a rock garden featuring a sprinkling of cactus plants.

This popular approach to water management and water-conserving landscape design has been commonly known as Xeriscaping, and because the term comes from the Greek for "dry" many people assume it describes desert landscapes. That couldn't be further from the truth. In contrast, the approach focuses on working with nature's guidelines to create a lush looking landscape. As a matter of fact, "naturescaping" can be another way to describe this water-wise landscape design and management.

Turning your yard and garden into a "naturescape" requires some common sense and planning. That entails choosing the best plants, soils, locations, and irrigation systems for efficient water use. Some of those water-wise plant materials include vibrantly colored perennials and lush varieties of shrubs. The keys to "naturescaping" involve how, when, and what you water in taking care of your property. Low-volume irrigation systems such as drip-watering devices reduce water use by 50 percent.

Early-morning watering cuts down on evaporation. Water-wise "naturescapes" offer savings. Grouping plants by water requirements is a smart way to guard against overwatering some plants and underwatering others. Save water by replacing leaky parts of irrigation devices and positioning sprinklers to shower areas of vegetation, as opposed to the driveway, garage, or deck. A constant among guidelines for being water-wise is maintaining the health of your plants.

Strong plants don't need as much water as weak ones do. We have many reports from gardeners that garden products by Spray-N-Grow helps their plants withstand drought much better than those not sprayed with Spray-N-Grow. That's because Spray-N-Grow helps plants develop a better root structure-more roots that are larger and longer. Plants that have a better root structure are more able to "find" any available moisture. Be sure to add the needed amendments to your soil and mulch around plants to keep the roots moist.

When adding to your landscape, don't forget to include drought-resistant plants and grasses to those you already have. Before you begin planning your new "naturescape" or planning how to convert your current landscape into a more water-efficient one, be sure to check with the experts at your retail nursery/garden center. They can offer the most valuable assistance for getting the best results.