Why You Should Let Goats Do Your Pruning For You

Ruminating on the efficacy of animal-driven yard care.

April 16, 2015
Goat
PHOTOGRAPH BY GRANT HARDER

Yard work is a Sisyphean task for us mere humans, but it’s just another day at the office for the ruminants of the world—cud-chewing foragers such as sheep and goats. When the grass in my yard hadn’t been cut in months, I called in some reinforcements.

Related: The Surprising Weed That Will Rejuvenate Your Backyard

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Amazin’ Grazers owner Adrienne Anderson trucked a group of rent-a-goats over to my house in Seattle’s Phinney Ridge neighborhood. Honeybear led this pack of rescue animals, accompanied by Rosie and the white goat posse: Cupcake, Griffin, and Francis. “Look out,” Anderson warned. “Cupcake is such a diva.”

Once loose, the troop pruned ferns, trimmed the leaves off a lanky bamboo plant, and noshed on blackberry vines. Goats like these are now for hire all over the United States, offering an eco-friendly approach to landscaping, complete with free organic fertilizer. The animals are ideal for clearing yards full of brush or invasive species, as their multichambered stomachs sterilize ingested seeds.

Chew On This

To my chagrin, goats won’t eat just anything. The white goat posse turned up their noses at the leaves that littered the lawn. Rosie nibbled a few patches of tall grass but quickly lost interest. The goats saved me hours of pruning, but I still needed a new lawn mower.

“If you’re looking to get your grass trimmed,” Anderson offered, “try sheep.”

The Rest Of The Herd
Companies across the country hire out grazers to trim your lawn down to size. Here are some of the best.

  • Amazin’ Grazers is an affiliate of the Seattle area’s Rent-a-Ruminant, which has licensees in the Pacific Northwest, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
  • California Grazing sent in a herd to clear the fields at Google’s Northern California headquarters.
  • Maryland’s Eco-Goats removed leaves at the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.
  • Ewe-niversally Green uses hair sheep to control Atlanta’s invasive plants, such as English ivy and kudzu.
  • The Goat Lady, based in Washington state, brings llamas and alpacas for hard-to-reach high branches.