Every summer, it's the same problem. Your chickens free-range in the morning, and in the evening your garden is nearly unrecognizable.
Fortunately, I've put together a handful of time-tested solutions that can help keep peace on your homestead. Read on to find out how to keep your chickens out of the garden.
1. Use Herbs to Repel Your Chickens
Just like us, there are some scents that chickens can't stand – like that stinky durian fruit that everyone seems to want to get their hands on lately.
So, you can plant distasteful herbs in areas where you don't want your chickens to forage.
Bonus, you will love the scents, and uses for these herbs!
Some of the herbs that chickens hate include:
You may see some of your chickens taste-testing these plants, but the flavor may quickly deter your chickens.
If you densely plant these herbs in your garden, or around it, your chickens will turn their beaks and head off in the other direction. They probably won't even spend time looking at the luscious tomatoes on the other side of those abhorrent herbs.
If you prefer, you can also sprinkle some of your purest essential oils around your garden. Just make sure that the oils will deter your chickens, and not cause harm to your garden.
Never put essential oils on your plants, as some are quite “hot” and may burn the vegetation.
If you do use essential oils, consider peppermint or spearmint, as these oils have a strong aroma, and are natural pest deterrents.
No, I know, your chickens aren't pests… I'd never say that!
2. Citrus Can Deter Chickens from Your Veggie Garden
Somewhere along the line, citrus got a bad rap with chickens. Some believe that citrus can even kill a chicken.
Well, probably anything in large doses can kill a chicken, but in reality, citrus isn't really all that dangerous for chickens.
In fact, your chickens probably want nothing to do with your leftover grapefruit peels, or the oranges you told yourself you were going to eat when you bought them but never did.
Most chickens will keep clear and avoid citrus fruit; they just don't care for it.
And if you've ever offered an orange to them, it's probably still being kicked around the coop.
Luckily, you can use this to your advantage. Use your orange peels, essential oils, or citrus juice to line your garden.
You may need to apply a more substantial amount of citrus more often if you use this chicken deterrent method – especially if there is heavy rainfall in your area.
3. Fence Your Garden In and Keep Your Chickens Out
There are some things that might work to keep your chickens out of your garden, and then there are entirely fool-proof things – like fencing.
You can fence your chickens' favorite plants in with chicken wire, or you can put a fence around your entire garden. Whatever works best for you.
Here's the thing, though; if you are an avid gardener, and you love leaving your chooks out every day, fencing is going to be your best bet.
Fencing will give you peace of mind.
You know fat little hens can't fly over a fence, so you can allow your hens to find their own veggies and proteins without invading your garden.
Really, fencing is a win-win. Oh, and you can be sure to keep other garden-loving critters out with fencing, like peter rabbit and his posse, for example.
4. Add Ground Covers to Exposed Soil
Chickens love gardens for three main reasons:
That last reason right there can sometimes be the main reason your chickens are spending their time amongst your roses. Dirt baths are essential to chickens, they help keep a chicken's oils under control, and keep parasites off.
If there is a lot of dirt exposed without plants growing, your chickens will officially declare your garden their space. The fruits or veggies in your garden are merely a perk at this point, like the cucumber water at your favorite salon.
To fend off your chickens, consider using the following ground cover methods:
- Landscaping Fabric
- Mesh or Netting
- Ground Cover Plants
Adding one or more of these barriers will make spa-day next to impossible for your chooks.
5. Make Your Chickens a Garden of Their Own
A chicken garden may not keep wandering eyes from your garden all the time; however, if you can create a garden that is more exciting to them than your own, you and your chickens can tend your separate gardens without issue.
A chicken garden should include some of their favorite crops and space for dust baths. A refreshing fount of water will also give your chickens little reason to want to scope out your garden.
6. Stop Weeding Your Garden
Ok, so weeds probably aren't your best friend if you want a gigantic harvest of perfect veggies at the end of the season. However, if there is less ground to bathe in, your chickens will have one less reason to set up shop in your garden.
A surplus of tangly, probably unsightly, weeds will make it challenging for your chooks to scratch for goodies. Dust baths will be entirely out of the question.
7. Supervise Your Chickens While Gardening
I know, you like to leave your chickens up to their own devices, and if none of the other items on this list are feasible, you can consider restricting their time out of the coop.
Evenings will work best for this option because it won't be long before the sun goes down and your chickens are ready to head back to the coop. You don't have to spend hours chasing them out of your garden, maybe just an hour or two that you already plan to spend outside.
So now you know, there's plenty of things you can do to keep your chickens happy and your garden growing. Try combining a few of these ideas, and see what works for you. It may take some trial and error, but chickens and gardens can live in harmony.