These Lawnmowers Run on “Baa’s”

Herds of goats to graze on invasive plants

By John Wist
|  Wednesday, Jul 6, 2011  |  Updated 6:36 PM EDT
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If you hear some “baa’s” instead of the rumble of a lawnmower in Gaithersburg, you're hearing the city's new grounds crew.

Two herds of goats, supplied by Eco-Goats (yes, it’s a real business), will be grazing on the property of the Izaak Walton League headquarters on Muddy Branch Road. It will take 16 days for the herds to cover the property in an effort to remove invasive species of plants like Japanese Stiltgrass, Mile-A-Minute Vine, Autumn Olive and Oriental Bittersweet.

After the goats use their talents to trim back the plants, an herbicide will be sprayed and then a new planting plan will be put in place by the Izaak Walton League to keep the invasive plants from coming back.

According to Gaithersburg officials, goats are an effective way to eradicate invasive species and have been used in Anne Arundel County, St. Mary’s County and Maryland State Highway Administration. Eco-Goats will provide all the shelter, food and water for the goats during their lawn mowing duties.

And remember that little incident when a goat ran free across Gaithersburg in May, eluding police. There will none of that here. All the goats will be enclosed in an electrified fence which will be moved throughout the week to cover the entire property.

City officials say if this program is successful they will consider using grazing for other invasive species in Gaithersburg.

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