Quiet Mowing Available

Quiet Mowing Available

Could your lawn care be easy and noise free?

Sheep willingly work under low branches, ideal for pruning the Rivera’s atypically treed front yard

Sheep willingly work under low branches, ideal for pruning the Rivera’s atypically treed front yard

Is there a homeowner among us who doesn’t hate the spring and summer chore of mowing the lawn? Or the too constant drone of neighborhood mowers drowning out the pleasant sounds of nature on a pleasant day? But there is an easy, quiet, noise-free suburban lawn care service, if you don’t consider hearing a few bleats to be noise. It comes with the added benefit of simultaneous lawn fertilization. Consider the lamb mower.

A small company with its crew of compact and wooly lawn chewing experts has established itself with a new kind of foothold in the local professional lawn care industry — a hoof hold. Suter Innovations LLC is licensed and regulated in Fairfax County as a landscaping business for its Lambmowers, natural lawn care service. Established in 2016, and now in its second year going mobile with the addition of the lamb trailer, Lambmowers employs adult sheep of both sexes. Lambs might join the crew, depending upon the season; since there are no applicable kid labor laws. Well, ‘kid’ does refer to goats, but I think you understand.

Beverly and Juan Rivera, of Springfield, appreciate nature lawn care and are repeat customers 


These ‘employees’ have great enthusiasm for their work; surely unmatched by their human lawn service competitors. It’s an enthusiasm that must be monitored, advises returning customer Beverly Rivera of Springfield, who has used the service multiple times. Rivera says, “They're not exactly disciplined, we have a winterberry holly in our front yard and once they get a taste of that, there's no going back to lawn. But at least we get a good low pruning.”

Rivera, a Fairfax Master Naturalist, appreciates the sheep “as a more tranquil alternative to mowers and leaf blowers”; noting “they also fertilize.” Rivera’s yard is ideally thickly planted for the crew. So thick in fact that a small shovel lost during the last sheep crew visit was found during this year’s session. Rivera invited friends and fellow master naturalists to her house for coffee and an opportunity to watch the crew in action. “Be sure that your camera is charged,” she warned, "they're very photogenic.” This reporter, leaving with a plethora of photos, can attest to that statement.

Goats may have the greater reputation for their indiscriminate ability to rid an area of all sorts of unpleasant brush and weeds, including Blackberry brambles, poison ivy and kudzu. They prefer browse; searching for their favorite tastiest treats, such as sugar laden buds on branch tips; and taller, woodier plants. If you need a bush hog, you want a goat. While sheep are the right-sized masters of grazing. “Modern Farmer,” a non-profit organization that reports on food and farms, compared the grass eating efficiency of grass eating species. They opined that to mow a 50,000-square-foot area in one day, it would require 38 goats, 83 sheep, seven cows, or 2,000 guinea pigs. Sheep may be a bit slower in their grazing than goats, being more scrupulous in the amount and equality of grass they eat. And who has room for cows, or could come up with, and herd, 2,000 guinea pigs?

If you want chewing grazers, you want sheep on the job. Lambmowers owner and chief shepherd, Cory Suter, describes his 19 member flock as, “small gentle sheep almost as adventuresome eaters as goats.” His Babydoll Southdown sheep “eliminate most young thorny brambles, tree seedlings, herbaceous weeds, and enjoy eating bamboo shoots and onion grass in the spring. “ 

Before you consider turning over your well manicured, fertilized weed-free lawn to these professionals, consider that they prefer a challenge. Suter says “they are better at weeds than lawn grass, depending upon the grass seed used, since many grass seeds are laced with endophytes.” Those additives enhance nutrient uptake, stress tolerance, and disease and insect resistance in the grass. Unfortunately while the endophytic fungi produce chemicals that keep insects away, they produce an unpleasant taste and may be toxic in quantities to livestock. Suter does not allow his sheep to graze on plants that have been treated for pests or weeds within the last six months. Suter says, “Each yard is different, but our sheep do a good job reducing weeds in most yards.” 

It may be those whose properties need more help, due to weed and bramble incursions, who see bigger results with a sheep crew on the job. But being truthful, many of us would hire the sheep crew on the strength of their cuteness alone. With names like Sunday, Sunshine, BahHumBug, Chocolate Chip, and the newest lambs Jack and Jill, they bring a joy that could never be found in the typical lawn mower. And before you go find your own cute sheep crew and pick out some cute names, be aware that Fairfax County restrictions allow only up to five sheep per acre, on lots of a minimum size of two acres.

For more on Suter’s crew, go to Lambmowers.com.