Boston Is Bringing Back Goats For Some Landscaping This Summer

Goats make a meal out of landscaping at the Black Rock Golf Club in Hingham. (Courtesy of Jim Cormier/The Goatscaping Company)
Goats make a meal out of landscaping at the Black Rock Golf Club in Hingham. (Courtesy of Jim Cormier/The Goatscaping Company)

Boston is deploying landscaping goats to chomp down on weed-choked city land this summer, after a successful pilot program last year.

The city is renting eight goats to graze on the city-owned George Wright Golf Course and another four at a wild landscape area in Hyde Park.

They will eat poison ivy, buckthorn, Japanese knotweed and other invasive plant species clogging the land, said Ryan Woods, a spokesman for the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

"Goats eat everything. It's one of the natural things that they do, and they're able to digest these things that are harmful to humans," Woods said. Plus they're cheaper and quieter than lawnmowers, he added — and they drop natural fertilizer along the way.

The goats will be split into herds of four, each of which can clear up to a third of an acre per week. One herd will graze on a wild landscape in Hyde Park for four weeks starting on July 6. Afterward, they'll join two other herds working at the golf course for six weeks starting on July 20.

The goal is to make overgrown areas more inviting to visitors, Woods said.

The goats will live at those sites until they finish their work, surrounded by solar-powered electric fences that keep them in and predators out. They'll also be fed hay and water to supplement their diet.

Renting the goats from Duxbury-based Goatscaping Company will cost about $11,000. The money comes from city fundraising, not taxes.

Residents and visitors shouldn't expect any nuisance from the new neighbors, said Elaine Philbrick, co-founder of Goatscaping.

"The goats are very quiet, and both their bodies and their bile waste are odorless," she said. They're "extremely friendly," she said, and would never head-butt anybody.

Boston started using goats for landscaping last year, at the same wild space where they'll return this year. Some Hyde Park youths proposed the idea to Mayor Marty Walsh as a way to improve the overgrown and desolate space. The city started it as a pilot that cost about $3,000.

"It was a big success last year," Woods said, adding that the goats also attracted spectators.

If it works again, the city could continue and expand the program in the future, Woods said.

This article was originally published on June 10, 2015.

This segment aired on June 10, 2015. The audio for this segment is not available.



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