Are you curious about how to keep chickens out of the garden? Look no further – this post is your ultimate guide.
Chickens are perfect backyard animals. Whether you are keeping them as companions, for eggs, or for their meat, they are a delight – with a dash of mischief – to have in your yard.
However, if you are an avid gardener with free-range chickens, you might wake up to find your garden trashed, eaten, and all-around looking like your whole flock ran through it.
What can we do to prevent our chickens from ruining our gardens?
Don’t worry, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide on how to keep your free-range chickens out and away from your valuable plants and produce.
What Attracts Chickens to the Garden?
Your garden is a mess, but what about it attracts your chickens? Here are a few things in your garden that might be tempting your chickens.
If your garden has decent-sized spaces where it is simply dirt or soil, your chickens will gravitate toward it. Dirt baths are essential to a chicken’s health and cleanliness. Therefore, if you notice a lot of areas within or around your garden that provide your birds with the chance to plop down and clean themselves, that is one possibility as to why your chickens keep coming to your garden.
Fruits & Vegetables
Growing produce is like heaven to these birds. Fruits and vegetables offer a tasty treat for your free-range chickens to pluck at.
Some flowers have a nice, subtle scent that is attractive to chickens. In fact, they might even sample the petals. Additionally, there are some flowers with seeds that attract chickens. That being said, when seeds fall from their buds onto the soil, chickens will most likely come over for a little snack. Flowers such as nasturtium or violets are extremely attractive and tasty for chickens.
Food Scraps or Other Tasty Morsels
If your chickens, yourself, or another force of nature is tracking chicken feed or food scraps over to your garden, the chickens will follow the trail. In addition, if your garden is planted near any nut trees and they fall from their branches, the birds will come over to check it out.
How to Keep Chickens Out of Your Yard
Now that we know what attracts them, how can we stop our chickens from getting into our gardens? Here are some simple preventative measures to take to keep chickens out of your garden. We will go more in-depth with these measures soon.
- Bitter or strong-smelling plants/essential oils
- Fencing off your garden
- Limiting free-range time
- Supervising your chickens
- Planting ground cover
- Setting stones or brick around your plants or filling in dirt patches
- Mechanical deterrents such as flashing lights or sounds
- Plant a garden specifically for your chickens
- Try strategically planting your garden
- Utilize raised beds
- Place plastic predators or scarecrows around the garden
- Don’t de-weed your garden
- Utilize citrus
Let’s dig deeper into some of these preventative measures.
Plant Bitter or Strong-Smelling Plants
Chickens have sensitive noses. Therefore, if they won’t stay away from your garden, try planting some strong herbs to border your garden. Some herbs to consider would be the following: spearmint, lavender, chives, catnip, or marigold.
Alternatively, you can also use essential oils. If you decide to use essential oils, peppermint or another mint would work best. You can sprinkle a few drops throughout your garden or, to prevent damage to your plants, soak cotton balls in your essential oils, place them in bowls or jars, and set them around your garden that way.
Fence Off Your Garden
Fencing off your garden is one of the most effective measures you can take to keep your chickens out of flower beds and vegetable gardens. Since chickens can’t fly that high or for very long, a fence works amazingly.
You can use chicken wire or other fencing methods to keep your chickens out. Make sure that the fence stands at least 4 feet tall. Although chickens don’t get much air time, there still needs to be sufficient height to the fence.
You can also utilize raised beds as well. These aren’t as effective as fences, but, again, if they are 4+ feet tall, your chickens most likely won’t be able to get up there.
Limit Free-Range Time
If your chickens are persistent and they just can’t seem to stay away from your garden, limiting their free-range time might help with the problem. If you schedule their free-range time closer to nighttime, they will have an easier time settling down in the coop since they like to start their days early in the morning.
If you are adopting this method, make sure to turn any coop lights off as they can mistake the light source for the sun and get a bit rowdy.
Supervise Your Chickens
This method might not be the first thing you want to do, nor is it the most fun. However, sometimes it pays off to parent your chickens.
These birds are good listeners most of the time. If you’re out in the garden and they start to
creep in, you can shoo them off, tell them to go away, or even pick them up and place them at another spot in your yard.
Additionally, you can train your chickens. Despite some stigmas, chickens are smart animals. If you talk to them and direct them, they will listen to you over time. Training chickens does take a bit longer, but it would be worth it in the long run.
Plant Ground Cover
Remember when we said that chickens love the dirt? This is where the ground cover comes in. If the ground is taken up by different plants (that do not attract chickens), they won’t try to roll around in your garden.
Alongside this method, you can place bricks and stones around individual plants or your whole garden to prevent your chickens from rustling around in your plants. The hard surface isn’t inviting to their little feet.
Finally, you might want to let the weeds grow! Pulling up weeds turns up the soil and makes it softer, welcoming chickens to roll around in there. Letting weeds grow will prevent chickens from walking over to your garden.
Hard wire cloth is also a great method to prevent your chickens from treading on precious ground. The sturdiness and hardness of the material is a sure-fire way to keep those chickens out.
There are a plethora of mechanical deterrents that are safe and to your tastes. You can choose from motion-activated sprinklers, flashing lights, or motion-activated sounds to discourage your chickens from roaming in your garden area.
This is a great way to relax while the motion-activated devices do all the work at keeping your chickens out of the garden without fencing.
Buying plastic hawks, owls, or scarecrows will keep chickens out of mulch and let them know to avoid certain areas of the yard. However, chickens will get used to the immobile figurines. Therefore, it is important to move the fake predators frequently so the birds don’t catch on.
Plant a Personal Garden for Your Chickens
This is probably the most fun one out of the list. Not only do you get to plant another garden, but you get to plant a small, personalized garden just for your chickens!
For this method, it is best to strategically place the garden close to the coop and away from your primary garden. Additionally, you can fill the garden with flowers that the chickens love (listed above), personal watering stations, patches of dirt, and their own feed.
The closeness of the garden paired with being filled with their favorite things is an almost full-proof way to prevent your chickens from getting into your own space.
Chickens hate the strong, acidic taste and smell of citrus. Take advantage of your grapefruit and orange peels and litter them throughout the garden. You can also use their juice to drop into the soil. Make sure to be mindful of rainy seasons. If it rains, you’ll have to replace the fruit peels and redistribute the juice.
Dogs are fun to have around regardless of chickens, but they are also perfect for deterring your flock from your garden. Their instinct to protect their territory is unmatched. Training them to safely chase the chickens away, either by barking or by physically chasing them, is a great way to let your previous role of supervisor fall to your dog.
You can happily garden without having to look over your shoulder to see if there are any creeping chickens coming into your garden.
How Do I Keep Neighbors’ Chickens Out of My Yard?
If you don’t want to talk to your neighbor about their chickens (completely understandable!) here are a few methods to consider:
Train Your Dog
Dogs are great for deterring all sorts of activity within the garden because they are territorial. Breeds like Welsh Corgis or Australian Shepherds are incredibly smart and are natural herders. You can train the dog to chase the chickens away and guard your garden without hurting the chickens.
Speak to the Chickens
Seriously! You can ask the chickens to leave with a few “shoo-ing” hand motions. This also works to keep chickens off the deck, patio and porch and they will most likely listen especially if you are persistent.
Use the Listed Deterrent Methods
Any of the preventative repellent methods we listed above are great ways to keep your neighbor’s chickens out of your yard.
Talk to Your Neighbor
Confrontation is never fun, but you are simply and innocently asking your neighbor to keep a closer eye on their chickens. If the chickens are persistent and seem to work against your own preventative measures, it’s time to talk with your neighbor.
How to Free Range Chickens Without Them Eating Your Garden
There are many effective preventative measures to take to keep chickens out of your garden. The absolute most effective is building or securing a fence around your valuable plants and produce.
However, you might want to practice a blend of techniques to ask as barriers to further discourage or distract your chickens from getting into valuable gardening space.
You can try a blend of bitter or strong-smelling scents and smells that chickens hate, fake predators, and even a personalized garden just for your flock.
Whatever method you’re thinking about trying, don’t be afraid to try multiple! Figure out what works for you and enjoy your chicken-free garden!
What smell keeps chickens away?
As stated previously, chickens hate bitter and strong smells. Try planting herbs such as lavender or spearmint around your garden. Or, if you don’t want to plant those herbs, you can utilize essential oils.
Garlic is also another smell that chickens hate. For this, you can crush up some garlic to a paste-like substance, dilute it with water, and spray it around your garden. Or, similarly to the essential oils trick, you can place some minced garlic in a bowl or jar and set it around your garden.
Do pinwheels keep chickens away?
Yes! Not only do they help keep chickens away, but they can be an attractive decoration for your garden. Similar to the fake predators, however, it is important to move the pinwheels occasionally to keep the chickens on their toes.
How high a fence to keep chickens out of the garden?
Chickens can fly, although for a short time and distance, so the fence needs to be at least 4 feet tall.
What spices keep chickens away?
Chickens don’t like strong smells. Therefore, you can use cinnamon, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, or a standard spice blend.
Will a fake owl keep chickens away?
Fake owls or hawks will keep the chickens away. Keep in mind to keep rotating the position of the fake predators to keep the chickens guessing.
*image by piep600/depositphotos.com