These Sheep Want to Mow Your Lawn
Give the gas-powered mower a rest and hire these docile grazers instead.
Lawnmowers can do the job, but sheep are quieter and more environmentally friendly. Seeming to perpetually smile underneath all that pillowy wool, the obliging ovine enjoy munching grass and weeds, making them decent landscapers.
That’s the idea behind LambMowers.com, a business that Fairfax County resident Cory Suter founded last year. His flock of 15 Babydoll Southdown sheep – including several month-old lambs – have dined on several Arlington lawns in recent weeks.
Liz McKnight who lives near Jamestown Elementary School, is the owner of one such yard. The cream-colored herbivores she calls “so stinkin’ cute” stopped by twice in two weeks to feast on weeds in her overgrown plant beds.
“When they arrived, they had their little faces poking out of the trailer and they looked so curious,” she says. “They immediately got off and started working. We were able to hang out in the backyard and watch them, walk around petting them.”
Her daughters, ages 9 and 7, bottle-fed one of the babies.
Weed control is a specialty. The animals will happily munch on dandelions, poison ivy, brambles and wayward tree seedlings. Suter stays on location to supervise day visits (ensuring the sheep eat only the plants they’re supposed to) and brings fences to control where they roam.
“The best part,” McKnight adds, “is that Cory is a gardener, so he was able to walk our yard with us and say, ‘That’s native, you want to keep that here. That’s invasive so let’s go ahead and cut that back.’”
Suter does have a few ground rules. Most notably, landowners can’t have sprayed pesticides or herbicides in the past six months on areas where they want the sheep to graze.
“People have yards that they want to look attractive, and there are all these little herbaceous weeds growing. The typical landscaping company wants to spray for those weeds to try to kill them,” he says. “But my typical client does not want any type of poison being used. My sheep provide a really attractive alternative.”
A two-hour weekday visit costs $175, while a weekend or evening one costs $275. Large properties with expansive greenspace may be able to host a 24-hour “Sheep-over,” which costs $250 and includes fencing and shelter.
The flock is pretty popular. “I’m booked almost solid through most of June,” Suter says. “People are booking July and August appointments right now.”
He expects December through February to be his slowest months, but the sheep are available year-round. Some people hire them more for entertainment than weed-clearing, he says.
To meet demand, Suter is looking to hire a full- or part-time shepherd, which would increase the flock’s availability.
Appetite isn’t an issue. “The sheep like to eat three heavy meals a day, sometimes four, so they would like to do more jobs than what I can take them to,” he says. “It’s a really exciting problem to have.”
Ultimately, he hopes to franchise the business. But for now, he’s happy to be hands-on, seeing how much his four-legged employees love going to work. When they hear him bang a feed tray signaling it’s time to clock in, they stream into the trailer.
“They love getting in the trailer and going to new job sites,” he says. “It’s exciting for them to see what the next places are going to offer them.” Every property is a new salad bar.