Keeping backyard chickens and tending a productive garden are both high priorities on the homesteaders' wish list, but sometimes combining the two can be a recipe for disaster. In this blog I am sharing my top three tips for keeping chickens out of the garden so you can ensure happy hens and bountiful harvests.
For all their cuteness and entertainment value chickens are by nature no more than fluffy little eating machines.
I can't imagine our homestead without our girls, but I can tell you from experience that chickens and vegetable gardens are definitely NOT compatible.
Give them just five minutes in your veggie patch and they'll soon have mowed down your freshly planted seedlings and spread soil and mulch from one side of the yard to the other.
Keeping chickens out of the garden
My top three tips for keeping chickens out of the garden will help you:
- keep valuable mulch and garden soil where is should be - in the garden bed
- protect herb, vegetable and fruit crops
- and most importantly; still give your chickens access to pasture (grass) and dust patches for happy, healthy hens.
Let's dive in.
1. Supervise free range time
Supervising your chickens while they free range time is a good option if you want to allow your chickens access to some parts of your garden without the cost and effort of constructing physical barriers.
Simply let them loose for a period of time when you can keep a close eye on them, and promptly remove them from any areas where they're not welcome.
We'll occasionally do this of an afternoon when the kids are playing in the backyard and my husband and I are enjoying a drink on the patio.
More often than not we all enjoy a cuddle with the chickens at this time too. If they hop into the garden, we just encourage them out or pick them up and relocate them.
Be warned though. No less than a moment of distraction and your girls can get up to all manner of mischief! This really does need to be supervised.
2. Create a designated chicken run
By far the easiest way to keep chickens out of the garden is to set up a designated chicken run where nothing is off limits. Chickens will be less interested in your other gardens if they have other opportunities to graze, scratch and dig.
We have carved off the western side of our property for the chickens. This means we can use the house as a barrier with just a little make-shift fencing (an old baby gate) and the chickens are free to roam in this area.
This stops the girls getting into my vegetable patch and keeps their poo contained to one 'gumboots on' area.
There is a garden on this side of the property with established rose bushes and a grapevine, both of which are unaffected by the chickens.
The chickens love digging in the garden bed and scratching out the mulch, so occasionally I have to rake it all back in.
Since the chicken run is a high use area, I like to use garden trellis to cover over any areas of the lawn that the chickens scratch up in order to rehabilitate the grass. The garden trellis also acts as a great temporary fencing option.
3. Construct physical barriers
Another option which is particularly good is using physical barriers to protect your garden of veggie patch such as fencing and netting.
When I had a raised bed I created a canopy structure using timber stakes and then draped bird netting over the top to keep the chickens out. I used stainless steel pegs to secure the netting to the sides of the garden bed. This step was important, as chickens can be quite good at finding little opportunities to break in.
Check out my blog How to make a veg patch to find out more.
Another physical barrier I've used with success is plastic UV resistant garden trellis mesh which I use like fencing, again with timber stakes for support. This is a cheap and easy way to section off certain areas of the garden to keep the chickens out.
Equipment to keep chickens out of the garden
I tend to buy all my gardening equipment from my local Bunnings Warehouse store. I've linked some of my favourite products below.
Be sure to give your chickens access to plenty of fresh grass, whether that's during supervised free range time or part of your dedicated chicken run. You'll be rewarded with nutritionally superior eggs!
The best way to keep chickens out the garden without fencing is to supervise limited free range time and remove the chickens if they go in the garden bed, or you can construct a canopy over the garden bed using timber stakes and bird netting.
Simply raising your garden bed will not keep chicken's out as they can jump and fly short distances. You can keep chickens out of raised garden beds by supervising limited free range time or constructing a barrier like a fence or bird net.
The simple answer is you! You can either supervise the chickens and remove them if they stray into the garden, or use a barrier like a fence or bird net to keep them out. Chickens will be less interested in the garden if they have other opportunities to graze, scratch and dig, like in a dedicated chicken run.
Follow the steps in this blog to keep chickens out of your flower bed: you can either build a physical barrier, or dedicated chicken run, or supervise free range time in other parts of the garden.
If you want to keep chickens out of the yard, consider constructing a dedicated chicken run to house your chickens with opportunities to graze, scratch and dig.