The Arnold Arboretum Is Testing Out Goats

Four goats will try to help combat invasive plants with their chompers.

arboretum goats

Photo courtesy of the Arnold Arboretum

On your next jog among the specimen trees and plantings in the Arnold Arboretum, keep an eye out for some goats.

Four goats, to be more specific. The animals are being brought to the Arboretum as part of a pilot program to control the invasive plants and weeds in the landscape. Goats are known to chomp on just about anything, and are particularly skilled in clearing out overgrowth.

Have no fear, for the goats will not chomp on joggers. They’ll be kept inside an electrified enclosure (to prevent them from wandering and to focus them on their job). It will serve as a rain shelter in stormy weather and will also protect the goats from potential predators.

During the trial period over the next few weeks, the enclosure will be moved around the Arboretum to control different plants, which include Japanese bittersweet, poison ivy, and buckthorn. Each space that the goats work on will make room for more of the Arboretum’s plant collections.

Goatscaping,” as it’s sometimes referred to, is not a new concept. In recent years, goats have experienced a landscaping comeback, as evidenced by startups like Rent A Goat.

If the goats have done their job successfully at the end of the test period, the Arboretum might expand the program (read: more goats). In a statement, the Arboretum said an expanded program would allow for minimized chemical controls and reduced mowing, leading to an overall healthier environment. The statement also included a warning for Arboretum goers, because touching the goats’ electrified enclosure can cause serious harm. It advised not to touch the fences, and to keep all dogs leashed while in the park.