‘Landscaping' Goats Hired to Remove Weeds in Maine City

For one week, eight goats will be kept in Yerxa Park to eat weeds and help clear the area

The latest landscapers hired by the city of South Portland, Maine, are a bunch of animals and they're doing nothing but eating on the job.

City officials have hired Scapegoats, a Kennebunk-based business, and brought in a herd of eight goats to help chew and trample the invasive Japanese Knotweed plant that has taken over a waterfront park.

"This is a first, for sure," said city staff member Fred Dillon.

For one week, eight goats will be kept in Yerxa Park using an electric fence. Day and night, the goats will be eating the weeds and helping clear the area off of the popular Green Belt trail.

"The view here is great, so we can do a lot more to make better use of the park," Dillon said. "We see this as a first step in the process."

The goats are owned by Heather Lombard, who started her goat landscaping business three years ago. Since then, it has really grown.

"I think more people are not interested in using pesticides and herbicides anymore," she said.

In South Portland, it's the law. The city has banned pesticides on both public and private land, in one of the nation's most expansive ordinances. Since then, other municipalities have followed South Portland's lead.

Goat-scaping is green — and relatively inexpensive. For one week's work, the goat herd will cost South Portland $600.

"If we were to have the city's Parks Department with their staff, we'd probably spend twice as much," said Dillon.

After this week's feedings, the goats will leave and the city will put down a carpet to keep sunshine and rain from the knotweed plants.

Next spring, they plan to bring the goats back to do more damage to the weeds. Eventually, they hope to install more benches and signage to make Yerxa Park more inviting to the public.

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