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Unusual lawn-mowing method is gaining popularity once again: 'This is how everyone used to care for their lawn'

"There are so many ways they can be used."

"There are so many ways they can be used."

Photo Credit: iStock

When it comes to finding more sustainable ways to live, often there's no need to reinvent the wheel — or, in this case, lawn mower

Across the U.S., people are ditching the heavy grass-cutting machinery in favor of a more natural gardening solution: sheep.

Long before the lawn mower — or even the concept of the manicured lawn — was invented, hoofed herbivores like sheep, goats, and horses were employed to keep grasses in check by grazing. 

Sheep were once a common sight in New York's Central Park — note the apt name for its southwestern section, "Sheep Meadow." They chomped away at the Lincoln Memorial near the White House in 1914. In London, they enjoyed free range over Hyde Park, Clapham Common, and more public parks through the 1920s and 1930s. 

Today, Lamb Mowers is resurrecting the practice in Fairfax, Virginia. At the Unversity of California, another flock of sheep feasts on the lawns of several college campuses.

The average homeowner spends an average of 70 hours a year looking after their lawn — a statistic that's enough to put anyone off of fetching the lawn mower from the garage. 

Not only are so-called lamb mowers a time-saver, but researchers at the University of California, Davis also found that they have mental health benefits for the students and staff that work alongside them. 

Those who spent time with the sheep sketching, studying, or painting reported lower levels of stress than those who did not. One reason considered by the researchers is that spending time with the sheep created a "shared experience," which helped to combat loneliness.

Swapping lawn mowers for sheep is great for the planet, too. Using a gas-powered lawn mower for one hour emits the same amount of pollution as driving one car 100 miles. Up to 5% of the U.S.'s annual air-polluting emissions can be traced to these lawn mowers. 

One study found that replacing lawn mowers with sheep could reduce carbon pollution by more than a third.

It also removes the need for pesticides. Sheep love to munch on weeds, like docks and chickweed. Sheep manure is also an excellent fertilizer, which helps grass lawns to flourish.

"This is how everyone used to care for their lawn: horses and sheep. We're bringing back a very old technology," Cory Suter, Lamb Mower's so-called "Chief Shepherd," told The Washington Post.

"Sheep can be used to mow sports fields; they can be used on golfing greens while you play — they can be part of the appeal. There are so many ways they can be used," added Lucy Yuan, a staff member at UC Davis.

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