Lasagna mulch? Monrovia conservation group helps retired nuns plant drought-tolerant landscaping

The nuns at Maryknoll Sisters retirement home decided to get rid of six acres of grass and turn the area into a water-saving oasis

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Thursday, September 22, 2022 12:44PM
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The nuns at Maryknoll Sisters retirement home decided to get rid of six acres of grass and turn the area into a water-saving oasis.

MONROVIA, Calif. (KABC) -- In Monrovia, the grounds at Maryknoll Sisters retirement home are becoming a water-saving oasis.

The nuns at Maryknoll decided to get rid of six acres of grass, which is helping save water during Southern California's ongoing drought.

"The cry for healing is something we are also responding to," said Sister Arlene Trant, the retirement home's coordinator.

The sisters are collaborating with the water conservation group known as 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 said the change has been dramatic.

"What we found is the gophers and the skunks love this place," she said. "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, a volunteer building a tree nursery on the property, said he's in school studying landscape architecture, and said the project is gratifying.

"Now I have the tools to enact change. It's been fun to take this passion and apply it," he said.

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.