Zeroscape Versus Xeriscape

Plant a xeriscape for a zero-maintenance yard.

Mignon Fogarty
2-minute read
Episode #95

Today's topic is the word xeriscape.

This is kind of a self-indulgent podcast for me. I've been house hunting lately, and I swear if one more real estate agent tells me about a property's wonderful zeroscape, I'm going to rent for the rest of my life.

What Is a Xeriscape?

The word is xeriscape. X-E-R-I-S-C-A-P-E. It comes from a combination of the word xeric, which means "having scant moisture," and the word scape, which in this case refers to a type of land. So a xeriscape is a type of landscape where the plants don't require a lot of water, and it usually doesn't require much other maintenance either. That makes it a wonderful thing in my book, and I can see why people get confused and think the word is zeroscape, because it requires zero maintenance, but according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was coined by the Denver Water Department in 1981, and the word is xeriscape.

The root xeric in xeriscape come from the Greek prefix xer-, which means "dry." There aren't many English words that use the xer- prefix. Xeroderma is dry skin, xerography is a type of dry printing, xerophagy is eating dry food, and besides xeriscape there are just a few others.

Photo courtesy of Laura Herman, Tampa, Florida

Join the Grammar Girl community on Facebook or Twitter, where you can also submit a question. There's a good chance your question has already been covered in an episode, so be sure to use the search bar in the upper right corner of the QDT website to find out if it has.

You can also sign up for my free weekly newsletter, which offers exclusive grammar tips and bonus material.

That's all. Thanks for listening.

About the Author

Mignon Fogarty

Mignon Fogarty is the founder of Quick and Dirty Tips and the author of seven books on language, including the New York Times bestseller "Grammar Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing." She is an inductee in the Podcasting Hall of Fame, and the show is a five-time winner of Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards. She has appeared as a guest expert on the Oprah Winfrey Show and the Today Show. Her popular LinkedIn Learning courses help people write better to communicate better.