Zones are areas where we group together plants and animals that we access or use at similar intervals, such as daily, weekly, monthly, etc., and which use similar amounts of resources, such as human effort, water, light, fertilization.
While many graphics that show Permaculture Zones show the zones progressing from 0 to 5 in a stepped or ringed fashion, you can in fact have the zones mixed. In other words, you might step from a zone 1 area directly into a zone 4 area.
How close the zones are together, or in what order they appear, is not as important as it is to pay attention to exactly what we put inside each zone.
Protection of Wildlife: Impact Nature Less
Zone 0 is the house, or the center of human activity and zone 5 is an area that we leave completely untouched, letting nature do its thing without our interference.
Grouping things together like this has a benefit to both mother nature and human living.
By keeping things together that we will harvest or interact with at the same frequency, we make our lives easier. Nearly everyone with a garden is already doing this – you are keeping your vegetables and fruits that you check on all the time in one easy to reach area.
You are doing this because it makes sense. General care, fertilizing, watering and harvesting is all easier if the plants are in the same area.
But this benefits nature as well. The less we have to interact with an area, the better. If we do not have to disturb something, then we should not. By grouping items together like this, we help nature do it’s business in other areas more easily.
Also, by grouping items together like this we will discover several little micro-systems – where animals and plants will interact well with each other because of how they are grouped together. They will support and sustain one another.
The more of these types of interactions we can establish, the better the whole system will work. It will be better because the animals and plants will be more prolific, and we will have to put less work into the process to make it happen.
The concept here is not to reinvent the wheel. Instead it is to recognize what has worked in nature and for earlier human inhabitants for thousands of years. To learn from those interactions and do our best to replicate them.