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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Natural Lawn Mowers

The place where I work has been trying to go green, constructing new buildings that meet LEED standards, using green cleaning products, and upping their recycling efforts.  In addition to these things, they also introduced a small sheep herd to take care of an invasive plant species along a potential Greenway extension.  Thirty sheep and two donkeys are unleashed every few months to eat away at the Chinese privet that has grown up in a particular spot. The donkeys especially are precious and friendly; they stand very patiently to be petted (pet?), but the sheep usually keep their distance and are hard to get good photos of.  (Yes, that sign does say "electric fence," but I still stuck my arms over to pet the donkeys.  Dare devil, I know.)

Both my former boss and the real estate agent who sold us our house have goats for this same purpose, letting their goat herds munch away at their acres of land.  They'll eat all sorts of junk from your yard (although I hear that tin cans don't actually agree with them).  Word is that goats especially love privet.  Chinese privet is a fairly common invasive species in our area.  It's actually considered an "exotic pest plant" in the Southeast U.S.  And more and more, individuals and companies alike are using goats (or sheep) to eradicate this stubborn weed.  Even L.A. is using goats for public lawn maintenance (and drawing quite a crowd, too!).

We've often thought about borrowing a few goats to clean out the wilderness behind our house.  The other option is to rent a Bobcat for a weekend and go to town on it.  If we went the (greener) goat option, we'd have to figure out a way to fence the goats into just that part of the yard so they don't munch stuff we actually want to grow (like our currently measly grass Mr. Great Indoors is nurturing).  But our neighbors have offered to half the cost of a Bobcat with us, so it might end up costing as little as $40.  Hmmm.  We had talked briefly about herbicide like Round Up, but I think that option would be waaaay too expensive in the amounts we need it.  We have about 0.2 acres to clear, and that could certainly add up.  Here's a shot from our backyard wilderness a few weeks ago.  Mr. GI buzzed out a lot of our privet a few months ago, but this sucker is already back.  Grrr.

Have any of you used sheep or goats to clean out part of your yard?  Or have you resorted to harsher techniques?

P.S.  Did you know that privet (or privyet) means "hi" in Russian?  Fun!


  1. Saw this article and thought of this post!

    btw: has awesome daily animal pics :)

  2. Yeah I have been is not pretty....oh don't forget the poison oak lurking about!!! Itchy ouwa as Evey says!! PS but we would be more than glad to come back the jungle for another round!!!!


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