Lawn maintenance is a serious area of concern in many HOAs. Not only does everyone have an opinion about how the yards of the members should look, keeping common areas looking their best is important to the board and most of the homeowners. Many HOAs and private owners are turning to a unique solution to keep the common areas of their properties trimmed: they're using sheep! Is this a viable option for your association? There are several things to consider when bringing in sheep for your lawn care.
Sheep lawn care is steadily growing in popularity, starting in western states like California and Nevada, but quickly moving along the east coast. Using sheep to reduce lawn care costs can lead to significantly lower bills than, for example, hiring a lawn service. The sheep are feeding themselves on the grass that they mow, so their primary cost is appropriate housing and necessary vet care. They even provide their own fertilizer to those areas, which can help keep the grass looking fresh and bright.
Saving Time, Saving Money
Using sheep for the mowing service doesn't just save your community money--though there can be substantial savings, especially if you have large common areas and choose to pay for a lawn service on a weekly basis. It can also help save time, if members of your association have previously been responsible for taking care of tasks like removing poison ivy and kudzu from the area. The sheep can also be used to "mow" lawns and private areas throughout your HOA if the members vote accordingly, sparing each of them the cost and time spent keeping their grass at the appropriate length.
If hosting a flock of sheep on your property permanently seems like too much to ask, keep in mind that you may not have to take on all of those responsibilities on your own. In fact, some landscaping companies are now choosing to offer sheep services as part of their regular services. In many cases, the cost of hiring sheep to come in and take care of overgrown plants that you don't want in your common areas or to shorten the grass for you on a regular basis is much lower than traditional lawn care services, and since the sheep will continue to need to eat regardless of the weather, you'll have fewer problems with missed appointments. Hiring a company that uses sheep to come in and take care of your lawn care will also mean that you don't have to worry about hiring a shepherd, keeping up with sheep care, or other key areas of responsibility.
Things to Consider
Are you convinced that sheep might be the right choice for keeping your common areas trimmed? There are several key things you might want to consider before making the move.
How many areas will be served by the sheep? A tiny piece of communal land or a strip or two of grass around a playground aren't worth the effort of bringing in sheep to take care of your problem. On the other hand, if your homeowners are on board, each member can experience substantial savings by bringing them in to take care of their yards, as well.
What will your cost savings look like? Take the time to conduct a thorough cost analysis. How much do you currently spend on lawn care? How much time do members of the board have to spend on it? How will that change if you hire sheep to help get the job done?
What other plants do you have in the area? Sheep, unlike goats, tend to be selective: they won't eat flowering plants. That means that your gardens are safe from accidental munching while your grass is being taken care of.
How much do you care about being eco-friendly? Sheep significantly reduce the environmental impact of your lawn care efforts, which could be selling point for many members of your community.
While sheep may not be the perfect solution for everyone, they're certainly an excellent way to save time, money, and environmental impact throughout your HOA. By taking time to carefully weigh the advantages, you can quickly discover whether or not this is the right method for you.