Keep Chickens Out Of Your Garden With These Essential Tips & Tricks

Having a fully functioning little farm of your own complete with your own brood of chickens is the dream for many. They provide you with eggs as well as free fertilizer with their manure. Chickens are great for keeping pests at bay because they spend their days scratching and picking at the ground looking to gobble up anything that crawls in your soil. But if you're raising free-range chickens, it's likely that they will find their way into your garden.

Despite all the good they do, chickens do bring their fair share of mayhem. Even though chickens can help with pest control, they'll eat anything and everything that crawls in your yard. They don't discriminate between bad bugs and the good bugs you want to have in your garden. Insects aren't the only thing on the menu though. Chickens are omnivores so nothing is stopping them from nipping at the fresh greens in your garden. To top it all off, chickens have to dig and forage through your garden to find these pests, ruining your garden beds and undoing your hard work. 

As much as you may love your chickens, it's probably best to keep them out of your garden if you want to have any chance of harvesting healthy crops. Luckily, you can keep chickens away from your precious plants by sectioning them off with fencing, planting fragrant herbs like lavender or chives that chickens will avoid, or creating a more inviting space for chickens that entices them to stay in their designated area. 

Protect your garden with fencing and shrubs

The best and simplest way to ensure that your chickens stay out of your garden is by using high wire fencing or netting to close it off from your feathered. Depending on how much space you have, a fence or a shrub would be an ideal barrier. Although shrubs would be easier to fit in with the aesthetic of your garden, you would need to plant ones that grow high enough to prevent your chickens from jumping over (generally 3 feet high) and even then, your barrier still wouldn't be impenetrable. Shrubs are also notorious for housing rodents and countless other pests in their dense foliage. Not a good idea if you want to keep rats out of your garden and away from your crops. 

Fences might not be the most glamorous option but they get the job done. Consider tall chicken wire fencing that wraps around your garden. You will need to keep checking on the integrity of the fencing to keep up with maintenance and repair any wear and tear from rabbits and rodents trying to pry their way through. Chicken wire should be enough to deter chickens, but you could beef up security against pests by adding fine mesh wire netting to make it even harder to get through. As a last resort, try stacking bricks along the border of your garden to close it off completely.

Use plants and herbs to repel chickens

If a fence isn't appealing, look at options that make your chickens want to stop going into your garden. Chickens seem to hate the smells of fragrant herbs like chives, thyme, oregano, and lavender. You can plant these as companion plants for a range of other fruits and vegetables in your garden.

A chicken's sense of smell is very important when looking for food and avoiding predators. Their beaks are always picking in the dirt, looking for their next meal. You can add cinnamon powder and citrus rinds to your mulch to keep your flock from scratching around in there. Despite rumors you may have heard, citrus isn't toxic to chickens. While it's not recommended to add it to their feed because it's acidic and may harm their digestion, it's perfectly fine to use as a chicken repellent. You can add citrus rinds to your compost to allow the citrus scent to spread all over your garden. You also have the option of spraying citrus juice around the perimeter of your garden but this will need to be reapplied regularly and repeated after a heavy rain or watering session.

Give your chickens their own space

If you have the space, plant a chicken-friendly garden near your coop where your chickens can happily explore. and enjoy a garden meant just for them. Plant beets, carrots, and broccoli along with other plants your chickens will love. Natural wood chip mulches or pine shavings can be a great addition to their garden. Not only will your chicken enjoy scratching around in it but it's easier to keep tidy. You can also share some leftover sprigs and peels from fruits and vegetables in your kitchen by throwing them into your chicken garden where they'll be happy to munch on them.

There are also a number of chicken coops you can build to accommodate your flock. Depending on how freely you want them to roam around and how much space you have in your yard, you could build an enclosure that will also help to keep them and their eggs safe from predators. Make your chickens feel at home by surrounding them with their favorite things. Hang a few heads of cabbage, lay down some hay, stack a couple of old tires, and add a roost to give the space texture and dimension.