Forget lawn mowers. Forget bush hogs. When Kevin and Kathy Brown started clearing undergrowth at their Sandy Springs home this week, they brought in a different sort of machine to strip leaves from the shrubs and saplings. They brought in a flock of 22 sheep. Eight goats, too.

They’re rentals, of course, and come from a sheep farm out of town, Kevin Brown said. Their leaf-munching work at the Browns’ home on Churchill Drive likely will be done in two to four days, he said June 6 as he trimmed a few tall branches and fed their leaves to part of his four-legged gardening crew.

“It’s kind of fascinating,” the 42-year-old energy engineer said. “They’re a lot quieter than I thought they would be.”

The goats are contained by a solar-powered electric fence so they won’t wander away from the part of the Brown’s back yard they want cleared of undergrowth. Although passersby can’t really see the goats from the street, the Browns say they took care to warn their neighbors that a flock would be passing through this week. They sent out flyers, Kevin Brown said.

Next-door neighbor David Dalrymple stopped by June 6 by to watch the sheep and goats at work. He seemed impressed.

“I think it’s a really interesting concept in conservation and probably will grow to be a bit more popular,” he said. “I spent 15 minutes watching them and they were quiet as a mouse, with just an occasional baa.”

Dalrymple said he had some ivy he wanted cleared. “I’m going to wait till the Browns have completed the task and then talk with them and I may call [the sheep] back.”

So far, Kevin Brown seems convinced sheep and goats are a good way to go when starting gardening. After all, he said, they provide free fertilizer and you don’t have to buy them lunch.

Joe Earle

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.