A bastardization of “Xeriscape”, which means low water use, “Zero-scape” goes one step farther – to no water use. It’s becoming prevalent everywhere in Texas, and as a big fan of wise water use, I’m not a big fan of Zero-scaping. 

Often epitomized by large swaths of gravel or crushed rock with a few poorly placed plants, Zero-gardens may do more harm than their lush predecessors. One uses water, retains moisture after a rain, stabilizes soil, adds organic matter to soil, provides homes for bees and insects, and lowers ambient temperatures. The other doesn’t use water, but doesn’t provide any benefits either. It’s the opposite end of the extreme, but still just as extreme.

A sustainable landscape doesn’t mean NO supplemental watering, it just minimizes indefinite supplemental watering. Our landscapes (even our residential ones) are contributors to a complex system. If our response to lower water availability is to pave what’s left of our cities, we’ll turn these former grasslands into the deserts we fear they’re becoming.