An eco-friendly alternative to lawn-mowing in the shape of teddy-bear-like four-legged creatures has arrived in Fairfax County.
The Fairfax-based LambMowers uses a flock of roughly 11 sheep to mow lawns in the county. Cory Suter, who graduated with a phD in economics, jump-started the company in order to allow sheep to eat weeds instead of poisoning the soil and ecosystem with herbicides.
“One of many things I learned through my studies is that modern society was treating the soil and clean water upon which all life depends like it was dirt,” Suter said. “Rotational grazing on Silvopasture land is one great way of building back dark carbon-rich soil, a rapidly depleting resource. Suburbs with their mix of trees and grass can be very effective at sequestering carbon when managed thoughtfully.”
He moved to Fairfax in 2014 and sold his green roofing company, which was based in Philadelphia, before he started the business.
Suter sections off a portion of his clients’ property to contain the sheep so they can do their work — which they do best in the morning.
The main challenge of this age-old lawn care method: the sheep like to eat shrubs, flowers and plants that clients actually want to keep. The sheep also don’t do a perfectly even mowing job.
But the environmental benefits and cuteness factor have attracted several clients in the county.
For one, the sheep’s poop — what Suter calls a “low odor biodegradable fertilizer” — and its pee is a nutrient-rich form of plant fertilizer.
“The poop dissipates into the soil after a good rain or is consumed by microscopic and insect life in a healthy ecosystem,” he said.
A county spokesperson tells FFXnow that lamb-mowing services are classified as landscape contractor services to mow grass and, as a result, do not require any type of special permit. The workers — the sheep — do need to be kept on a minimum of 2 acres to meet the county’s zoning ordinance.
Suter’s typical client has dogs or kids and doesn’t want them overexposed to toxins like pre-emergent herbicides. Others let their weeds grow out of control in their beds or have stopped mowing their backyards for a bird-friendly way to take care of landscapes.
Instead of charging by the hour, he requires a $150 minimum payment when he brings his trailer of sheep to a client’s yard. The cost is $275 on weekends and evenings.
Suter also offers other eco-friendly gardening services and advice so that his clients “feel they got more than their money’s worth of value.”
He says that most clients have scheduled a follow-up appointment after reviewing the results.
A workforce expansion is on the horizon for the business. Most of the sheep are expecting or have recently delivered babies.
“Bringing sheep to eat the weeds instead of poisoning the soil and ecosystem with herbicides is what sets LambMowers.com apart from other landscaping companies, whose employees have shorter lives on average due to exposure to broad-leaf toxins,” he said.
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