Drought tolerant landscaping, and lasagna mulch, help retired nuns transform home into water saving oasis

MONROVIA (KABC) — In Monrovia, the grounds at Maryknoll Sister’s retirement home is becoming a water saving oasis. The nuns at Maryknoll decide to get rid of their six acres of grass. The move is saving water during Southern California’s ongoing drought.

“The cry for healing is something we are also responding to.” Sister Arlene Trant, Coordinator Maryknoll Sisters retirement residence.

The sisters are collaborating with the water conservation group Grow Monrovia. Leigh Adams, a professional landscaper, has been helping the nuns remove the grass and replace it will lasagna mulch, a layering technique that involves cardboard and wood chips that attract fungi, which in turn helps stimulate the soil.

“We’re adding carbon to the soil; carbon in the soil means water in the soil. Water in the soil means life,” said Adams.

Sister Arlene says the change has been dramatic. “What we found is the gophers and the skunks love this place. They dig to get the earth. This was dry before but because we did the mulching, it has turned into soil. So it’s bringing forth what we wanted it to do. What grass could never do-keep the ground moist.”

Todd Siefke is a volunteer building a tree nursery on the property. He’s in school studying landscape architecture.

“Now I have the tools to enact change. It’s been fun to take this passion and apply it,” said Siefke.

The nuns have 20,000 square feet of land and they plan to use in climate conscious ways.

“We are hoping to expand later step by step and continue this energy that it’s obviously calling us too,” said Sister Arlene.

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