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Gachina Landscape Management finds a unique solution for challenging properties

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Gachina Landscape Maintenance uses goats to help manage vegetation on properties with steep slopes. (Photo: Gachina Landscape Management)
Gachina Landscape Maintenance uses goats to help manage vegetation on properties with steep slopes.
Gachina Landscape Maintenance uses goats to help manage vegetation on properties with steep slopes. (Photo: Gachina Landscape Management)
Gachina Landscape Maintenance uses goats to help manage vegetation on properties with steep slopes. (Photo: Gachina Landscape Management)

Vegetation management crews often face somewhat tough terrain. Gachina Landscape Management, No. 81 on the 2023 LM150 list, found a unique and sustainable way to manage properties — goats.

These four-legged landscapers were the brainchild of Lauren Galanes, Gachina’s San Francisco branch manager. The company has deployed goats as part of a sustainable vegetative management strategy since 2018 on a large property in San Francisco.

“At the time we were using chippers to remove a lot of the debris and excessive green waste on site, (and) there were complaints about noise and dust from employees,” Galanes says.

Additionally, steep inclines posed safety concerns for the crew, and using equipment in the dry brush posed fire risks.

Release the goats

Gachina works with three Bay Area companies to deploy the four-legged vegetation management crews. Gachina and the companies work together to determine how big of a herd each property needs. The goat vegetation management companies and their herders work with the team from Gachina to fence off the area, bring in the goats and herd dogs, and move the goats around the property to ensure the herd effectively clears out all excess vegetation.

“Goats are extremely adept at navigating steep terrain,” she says. “The sheer size of the campus also impacted how much physical labor we could get done with our crews daily, while goats move in large herds very quickly. They will eat a wide variety of plants (weeds, brush, grass and invasive plants), clearing overgrown areas (hillsides, forests and utility rights-of-way) and eating invasive weeds.”

Galanes also says the goats help add fire breaks — strips of land cleared of vegetation — to stop wildfires.

Once the goats finish a portion of the property, Gachina’s crews overseed the area with native grasses and add pollinators, which thrive on the newly fertilized land — thanks to goat droppings.

Happy clients

Galanes says this approach to vegetation management fits well with clients who have strong sustainability initiatives. She says the feedback has been positive.

“One of our clients really enjoys having the goats on campus — part of their goal as a company is to improve the quality of work life for their employees,” she says. “Having goats on campus is relaxing for the employees — uplifting during the work day. We have had them say ‘everybody loves your goats, having them here makes our people happier.’”

Cristina Prevarin, plant health care and regenerative landscapes manager for Gachina, says the company also deploys barn owl nest boxes for small rodent control in a large HOA.

For fellow landscape companies looking for alternative vegetation management, Prevarin says using goats is a viable option.

“It’s much easier to coordinate than one may think,” she says. “The companies that we work with are professional, reliable and insured. Often clients are not aware that this is even an option. Many are happy to hear about this natural alternative.”

Christina Herrick headshot (Photo: LM Staff)

Christina Herrick

Christina Herrick is a former Editor for Landscape Management. A Journalist graduate from Ohio Northern University, Christina is known for sharing her insightful experiences on the road with her audience.

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