What Goats and Native Plants Have in Common
By: Kaitlin Craig, Landscape Architect Design Intern
My original theory to replace lawn mowers in America and solve the issues of lawn management, consisted of everyone buying goats. However, it turns out goats don’t really like to eat just grass and prefer brush and weeds, too. Following this little fact came more issues with my livestock vegetation management theory. Then it occurred to me, “Why don’t we just use less lawn?”
Let’s face it, lawns are high maintenance – you have to mow them and use lots of water (if you don’t water it regularly and evenly you get these beautiful brown patches). According to studies by the research group, Milesi in the United States, there is more surface area “devoted to lawns than to individual irrigated crops such as corn or wheat.”
I will admit, there is a purpose and place for everything. Lawns are great for recreational fields, golf and for people to walk, lay and/or play in. However, road median lawns and lawns in front of commercial businesses, residential front yards and parking lots, don’t have much logical reasoning. I see lawns as a place for people (or pets) to use, but they are are not actively using the lawn, then why have it?
A lawn does create a nice plinth for our lovely architecture and planting beds; however, that doesn’t mean it’s the only solution for creating an eye resting surface. Try selecting plants that are native or well-adapted to your local environment. This will lead to less water use and maintenance. I emphasize the less maintenance because I don’t know about you, but sometimes plant management is hard to fit into a busy schedule. Some of my favorite plants in the Texas region that I recommend are the Mexican Feather Grass (Nassella tenuissima), the line flower commonly used in floral arrangements called Liatris (Liatris spicata) and the Pink Buttercups (Oenothera speciose). You can learn more about the benefits of a native garden from this visual case study by the Santa Monica Office of Sustainability and the Environment here.
By all means, if you want still want to buy a goat, they are FAUN-tastic animals but, make sure to do your research beforehand. They are notorious escape artists and need a good size backyard. Nevertheless, it can be said for both goats and lawns that there is a purpose and place for everything.