Water conservation

Drought-tolerant landscaping and lasagna mulch help retired nuns turn their home into a water-saving oasis

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

“The healing cry is something we respond to as well.” Sister Arlene Trant, coordinator of Maryknoll Sisters Retirement Residence.

The sisters collaborate with the water conservation group Grow Monrovia. Leigh Adams, a professional landscaper, helps the nuns remove grass and replace it with lasagna mulch, a layering technique that involves cardboard and wood shavings that attract fungi, which 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,” Adams said.

Sister Arlene says the change has been dramatic. “What we found is that gophers and skunks love this place. They dig to get the dirt. It was dry before, but because we mulched it turned into dirt. So it produces what we wanted it to do grass could never do – keep the soil moist.”

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

“Now I have the tools to implement change. It was fun to take that passion and apply it,” Siefke said.

The nuns have 20,000 square feet of land and they plan to use it in a climate-friendly way.

“We hope to grow later step by step and continue this energy which is obviously calling us too,” Sr. Arlene said.

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