More and more often communities and individuals are turning to an
environmentally friendly solution to cutting grass -- just turn a herd
of goats loose and let them engage in their idea of fine dining.
Currently the city of Cleveland, Ohio is considering just such an option
to handle the maintenance of vacant lots.
Perhaps "lawn mowing" is a bit of a misnomer. Brush control would be a better fit. A goat is not going to be taking care to manicure your lush, green carpet, and trimming to a nice, uniform length. Lawn grass is also not the best food for a goat and does not provide complete nutrition.
Most who use or hire goats for mowing do so for large, open-space type wild areas rather than lawns. While Cleveland is just considering their program called "Mow Goats," cities like Boulder, Colorado have been using goats to control brush for more than a decade. The goats also handle keeping down weed growth without the use of herbicides. A goat's digestive system will render any seeds infertile, so they do not pass the weeds back into the environment.
Goats are browsers instead of grazers, meaning that they belly up to the plant buffet, rather than just going for a single plant or plant type. The bulk of what the goats will eat on open space is the woody and broad-leafed plants as opposed to grasses. The goats will also nibble their way through many noxious weeds that may be toxic to other animals.
The main upside to using goats is that they do not have a negative impact on the environment. In one hour a riding mower can release same amount of exhaust as 34 cars over the same amount of time. The goats also recycle the organic material back into the environment, naturally amending the soil, and allowing better moisture control and aeration.
Unless you have a large amount of wild or semi-wild acreage, the goat solution may not be for you. However, if you do want to look into it, you may want to check out something like GoatFinders.com.
Proponents of the goats in Cleveland are still waiting for city officials to determine if the Mow Goats program is a success and if they will allow the program to continue.