Houston Arboretum & Nature Center herds in 120 goats for unique landscaping care

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center is currently hosting a traveling lawn crew, but don't expect to see them with lawn mowers, tractors or weed eaters.

The crew is made up of 142 goats, and they're in town to remove invasive plants, trees and more from the non-profit nature sanctuary.

"These guys are doing about one-and-a-half acres around our north and south Woodway ponds," said Christine Mansfield of the Houston Arboretum and Nature Center. "We do that to help keep the landscape healthy and resilient."

The goats belong to Rent-A-Ruminant Texas, a company that provides goat-based landscaping solutions throughout Texas. The goats at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center are maintaining muddy areas that aren't accessible by tractors or lawn mowers.

"Goats are nature's mowing service," said Kyle Carr of Rent-A-Ruminant.

The goats have been in town since last Saturday to graze on poison ivy, willow trees and more. They'll be at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center through Saturday, before returning in November.

"We are really happy with all the goats have done," said Mansfield. "They've eaten a lot of the invasive species we have out here."

The goats have also drawn big crowds throughout the week.

"It's a pretty cool experience, and we've had lots of families come to enjoy the goats and have a good time," she said.

The Houston Arboretum is used to hosting family fun, but the COVID-19 pandemic has shifted their programming for the foreseeable future. Their annual fall festival "ArBOOretum" isn't taking place this year, but they are hosting an event called "Science Spooktacular" from Oct. 19 through the 24.

"It's a weeklong spectacular of science and nature events," said Mansfield. "They're both virtual and in-person."

Their annual native plant sale is taking place this weekend.

"It's one of our biggest events," she said. "Some of the plants we're selling are actually plants we've grown from seeds on site."

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