Goats Graze at Local Garden Grounds

Fort Worth Botanic Garden
Goats graze at Fort Worth Botanic Garden | Image by Fort Worth Botanic Garden

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden has brought in some additional landscape crew members of the four-legged variety to help with an invasive plant species.

Goats will be grazing in the garden through April 15 to help clean up weeds in the Native Texas Boardwalk.

The boardwalk is an area that spans three acres and is host to privet, nandina, and photinia. The area also hosts aggressive native plant species such as cherry laurel, greenbriar, and muscadine, according to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden website.

“These unwanted species have spread through the area, outcompeting and negatively impacting mature trees and outpacing our ability to control them,” the website reads.

“So in the absence of resident grazing animals here at the Garden, we’re hoping a borrowed band of browsing goats will fill this ecosystem gap and help tip the management scales back in our favor.”

The strategy, known as “goat herd grazing,” is practiced at nature centers, airports, ranches, and many private residences in the Lone Star State and elsewhere in the country.

“The benefits of selectively allowing goats to graze on our site should include fewer manhours devoted to manual and mechanical invasive species removal and reduced or eliminated use of motorized and heavy equipment operations, thereby reducing emissions and providing a quieter, more positive experience for guests,” reads the website.

Research from the United States Environmental Protection Agency found that hiring goats reduces the amount of fuel needed for landscaping equipment, thus eliminating the need for pesticides.

The goats also leave behind a source of fertilizer that improves the nutrients in the soil. After the goats graze through the area, the grounds become more suitable for native plants that can be maintained longer.

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden’s horticulture and research teams, with the help of an undergraduate student intern, will collect data to determine whether using the goats is “a viable option for long-term management at the Garden.”

The Anita Berry Martin Memorial Fund at North Texas Community Foundation funded the initiative.

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