Environmentally Sound Landscaping With Goats
Using Goats to Maintain the Grounds
It’s a cliché, almost: goats will eat anything and everything. While reality may not extend that cliché all the way to the proverbial tin can, goats are hearty eaters and will take care of just about any type of vegetation they get access to. In this way, they are superior to other grazers in that they eat everything they come in contact with.
Goats will eat ivy, blackberry bushes, and they’ll take down kudzu, too. In fact, they’ll eat trees if they have nothing else available to them. Goats are nature’s lawn mowers, and though they may be more discriminating eaters than cliché would dictate, they make great landscapers — that is, if you want a completely cropped landscape.
The Pros Use Goats
Goats are so good at clearing unwanted vegetation that there are professional landscaping companies using them to clear sometimes-vast areas of invasive species and overgrown vegetation — and keep them clear. There are goats-for-hire services throughout the country, including this one in Virginia. They even use goats (and llamas and sheep) to keep the areas clear around the runways at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.
In Portland, Oregon a large, centrally located plot of unused land was kept clear by goats for so long that it became known as the “goat blocks.” It was home to a small group of goats, who kept the land tidy and neat. It’s been recently redeveloped, and the developers decided to honor the memory of the goats that used to live there by calling the apartments they built the Goat Blocks as well, to mixed reviews.
What Goats Can Do
According to goat rental operators, 100 goats can clear as much as a half-acre per day. They’ll eat noxious weeds that cattle and sheep won’t touch. And, they can digest weed seeds — this is important if you don’t want the weeds to come back next year, fertilized.
Goats are nimble of foot, so they can clear areas that are rocky and also clear very steep slopes — including cliffs, in some cases. Typically the company that’s renting you the goats will show up with their own fencing to keep the animals working on the patch you want cleared until it is time to move to the next area on the menu.
Additional Side Benefits of Employing Goats as Landscapers
Sure, you can rent goats to clear your land. You can even have them back on a regular basis to keep the land clear. And, nothing really beats goats for dealing with invasive and hard-to-remove overgrown vegetation like clematis, English ivy, and Himalayan blackberry.
But, to really get the maximum benefit of having goats on your land, you need to invest in owning your own. Besides the obvious benefit of having goats around to mow down unwanted vegetation, you can get a wide variety of fantastic products from goats. Depending on the type of goat, you can milk them for making goat cheese, sheer them for making textiles, and even eat them — if you’re so inclined.
Goats: Nature’s Groundskeepers
Goats may not be the answer to everyone’s landscaping needs. But if you own a large amount of acreage, or challenging terrain that has been taken over by noxious weeds, goats may be your best option for clearing your land. That, and goats are easily the most environmentally friendly option available for clearing acreage, and keeping it clear. So consider hiring or purchasing some cloven-hooved groundskeepers if you need help clearing the weeds.