Sheep lawn mowers in Wicker Park?


Sustainable new addition to Wicker Park residential yard

Wicker Park residents adopt Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA) program concept for lawn "mowing." 

This little Wicker Park family appears to be enjoying their nicely planted home. They are quiet and no neighbors have complained to date. "This is a great way to work on sustainability," said one neighbor. "Furthermore the by product of their consumption add nutrients back into the ground." 


Sheep being herded over a bridge in Washington Park, circa early 1900

Historically, the Chicago Park District used sheep to "mow" land in Washington Park in the early 1900s.


Sheep grazing in Washington Park, circa early 1900

After CPA announced that they were hiring four-legged "mowers" at O'Hare in August 2013, the "crew" grew to 37 and consisted of goats, sheep, llamas and burros. They were so successful that they will soon be back at work on the 8,000 acres of land surrounding the airport. 

"They can get into places you can't go with equipment," explained a CDA spokesperson. "They'll be back on the job in late May or early June." 

CDA points out that such a program achieves several economic, operational, and environmental benefits:

  • Provide an alternative to toxic herbicides
  • Decrease landscape maintenance costs, including fuel, labor, herbicides, and equipment
  • Reduce the use of lawnmowers, trimmers, and weed-eaters that emit carbon dioxide and other pollutants
  • Eliminate mowing/landscape debris and transportation of debris to landfills
  • Provide a more efficient way of removing vegetation along steep embankments and rocky and wooded areas that are difficult to maintain with traditional mowing or spraying
  • Reduce habitat for wildlife that may be hazardous to airport operations (e.g., birds)
  • Clear poison ivy, poison oak and other noxious weeds and invasive species
  • Reduce the use of heavy equipment, minimizing soil erosion 

CPA contracted with Central Commissary Holdings who partnered with an animal rescue, Settlers Pond, no-kill group that specializes in farm and exotic animals to provide the service. 

At least three other cities have opted for this eco friendly, low cost maintenance plan. They are Seattle, San Francisco and Atlanta. Furthermore, in Oregon and North Carolina, they have rent-a-goat businesses. Not a bah idea for some entrepreneur?



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