18 Humane Ways To Keep chicken-Proof Your Garden (with & Without Fencing)
You don’t have to shoo your chickens all day to stop them from turning your vegetable garden into their personal buffet. One of these 18 ways to chicken-proof your garden is so effortless that all you have to do is place it in your garden.
Every time a chicken attempts to turn your homegrown veggies as her late afternoon snack, it will turn on and automatically do the shooing for you. Don’t worry. It’s completely harmless.
Here are all the techniques that you can try to chicken-proof your garden.
Let’s get started!
- 1. Plant Chicken Repelling Herbs
- 2. Use Citrus Rinds And Juice
- 3. Chicken Fences
- 4. Cover The Exposed Ground With Bricks And Stones
- 5. Make A Chicken Garden
- 6. Grow Weeds
- 7. Limit Free-Range Time
- 8. Chicken Wire
- 9. Hardware Cloth
- 10. Strategic Planting
- 11. Have Fewer Chickens
- 12. Don’t Plant Their Favorites
- 13. Plant Shrubs
- 14. Predator Decoys and Scarecrows
- 15. Install A Motion Sensor Sprinkler
- 16. Chicken Tractors
- 17. Get A Dog
- 18. Commune with your chickens
1. Plant Chicken Repelling Herbs
Would you enter a garden that stank? No? I didn’t think so. And neither will a chicken. Chickens prefer particular tastes and scents to others, just like people do.
When planning your garden, you should include plants that you like but that chickens don’t. Some tasty culinary choices you could incorporate are peppermint and rosemary. For something more colorful, try calendula. The flowers are beautiful and can be used for your next afternoon tea (1).
If you already have a garden, you can always visit your local nursery or garden center and buy fully-grown herbs and plants.
2. Use Citrus Rinds And Juice
Using citrus rinds and juice is a low-cost solution to keep chickens away. Simply save your leftover orange, lemon, and lime peels. Place the peels along the edge of the garden. You can try adding some juice as well but you’ll need to reapply after every rain.
3. Chicken Fences
Keep chickens out of your garden by building a fence. If you are looking for an inexpensive and natural fencing method, consider building a wattle fence. You’ll just have to weave twigs and branches together and fence around the area(2).
4. Cover The Exposed Ground With Bricks And Stones
Chickens love three things- plants, bugs, and dust. Eliminate these, and you can keep chickens away.
Use bricks and stones to cover the bare earth. This doesn’t only discourage chickens, you can also reduce dust. Make sure you use large enough rocks, though. If you use smaller gravel-like stones, the chickens will continue to dig and scratch in them.
Pro-Tip: Create a dust bath in their coop so your flock won’t turn your vegetable garden into their playground.
5. Make A Chicken Garden
A great way to keep the chickens out of YOUR garden is to build them their own garden. Plant henbit and other herbs that chickens like.
But, don’t just grow food. Create a 5-star chicken oasis complete with must-have chicken amenities like water, shade, and several dust baths. Soon your chickens will never want to go to your garden again.
6. Grow Weeds
You probably spend a lot of time pulling up those pesky weeds growing in your garden. Well, now you can stop. Pulling weeds loosens the dirt and exposes the bugs, making your garden more attractive to your chickens.
Don’t want your garden to look unattractive and unkempt? You can add large stones or bricks on top of the soil. Fewer bugs and less exposed dirt equals fewer chickens in the garden.
7. Limit Free-Range Time
If your chickens are still destroying your garden despite your best efforts, you may have to limit their free-range time. Or, like a responsible parent, supervise them when they’re roaming outdoors.
You can also let chickens out during nighttime. They’ll return to their coop before you even know it because chickens start their day very early (3).
“Chicken brains are super light sensitive, which is both cool and creepy—they’re so sensitive to light they absorb it through their skull even with their eyes closed”
So, don’t forget to turn-off the chicken coop light at night. Chickens can mistake the LED light bulb for the sun, preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.
8. Chicken Wire
Chicken wire is great at keeping chickens out of your garden. While not the most attractive option, you can use chicken wire in many different ways.
You can also create a cage around your delicate plants with chicken wire. The enclosure will prevent the chickens from pecking and damaging the vegetables. Some plants, like tomatoes, grow very well that way.
9. Hardware Cloth
If chicken wire isn’t working for you, try hardware cloth. Hardware cloth is more durable than chicken wire. You can make a cover for your sprouts fairly quickly, with minimum tools. How?
Cut the hardware cloth into squares. It should be large enough to cover your seedling but make sure to leave a bit extra for the cover’s sides. Using your metal shears, snip each corner (also in squares). The sides of the square will be equal to the height of the cover. If your cover’s sides are two inches, the square’s sides should be two inches too.
Fold the sides down, and now you have a box. Tie the corners together with a piece of twine. Place this over your seedlings.
10. Strategic Planting
You can also practice strategic planting, especially if you have a small backyard. Plant things they like closer to their coop. The more, the better because it will distract and discourage your chickens from finding their way into your garden.
You can also try making it more difficult for your chickens to eat your plants by building raised beds. If you build the bed high enough, the chickens won’t even realize they are there. Hanging planters work well for this as well.
11. Have Fewer Chickens
If your chickens are devastating your garden, you may have too many chickens. While it can be sad to let a chicken go, your chicken (not to mention your garden) will be healthier and happier living in an appropriate size yard.
Somewhere between 1-5 birds is a good number of hens if you live on a small urban lot.
When you have just a few hens, you want to maximize their egg production. To get the most out of your small flock, make sure you keep the best egg-laying hens.
12. Don’t Plant Their Favorites
Sometimes you find your chickens want the same things you want from your garden, and competition can be fierce. If you find yourself fighting a losing battle to the chickens (for me- it was over kale), it is ok to concede defeat.
While it’s tempting to cry over your lost veggies, don’t. Wipe those tears and move on.
Think of it as a lesson. You have learned what NOT to plant in your garden. Now next year, you won’t grow that again.
13. Plant Shrubs
If you want to keep chickens out in the garden while making your yard more attractive, plant shrubs. Its densely packed foliage is harder for chickens to penetrate.
Living fences are particularly attractive for flower gardens. Then you can add a whimsical gate. When you pass through the gate, you will enter into a beautiful chicken-free zone.
14. Predator Decoys and Scarecrows
Chickens are afraid of large predators like owls and hawks. By placing realistic decoys near your garden, you can scare the chickens away.
You do want to keep your chickens on their toes, so to speak. Don’t just buy one owl decoy and leave it for months. The chickens will get used to it. Buy a few. Move them around. Change the number of birds you are using. It doesn’t need to be a lot, just enough so the chickens don’t become complacent about it.
Just like owls and hawks, scarecrows will help keep chickens out of your garden.
You can check out this video to see an easy method to make a very sturdy scarecrow.
15. Install A Motion Sensor Sprinkler
Although it would be funny to spray your chickens every time they attempt to eat something off your garden, no one really has time for that. The solution? A motion-activated sprinkler.
Every time a chicken comes into your garden, the sprinkler will spray it with water. How amazing is that? The only downside to this is that the sprinkler will also spray any pets, children, or adults that trigger it as well.
16. Chicken Tractors
If you don’t want your chickens in a coop, but you want them to stay out of your garden, consider a chicken tractor. A chicken tractor is a small movable coop without a floor.
With a chicken tractor, you get the benefits of chickens in your garden- the digging, scratching, and pooping, all of which help prep your soils. But you don’t have to worry about the chickens eating all your hard work. They stay inside in the chicken tractor.
Check out some chicken tractor designs here.
17. Get A Dog
Dogs are territorial and will protect an area that they think belongs to them. With the right breed of dog, you can train them to protect the garden.
Make sure you get a dog that is good with other animals, though. You don’t want your dog to kill and eat your chickens. That’s just as unhelpful as chickens in your garden.
Look for a breed that is smart and known for farm work. Shepherds are a good choice (4).
18. Commune with your chickens
Sometimes you just need to ask your chickens to leave. I know it sounds kind of ridiculous, but it’s true. Despite what it may sometimes appear, chickens are not stupid. If you continually tell them to go away, they will learn.
Training chickens requires patience, so this is not the route to go if you are looking for a quick solution. But with time and perseverance, you will see that your lectures to the chickens will start to pay off.
Chickens hate strong, bitter smells from fragrant herbs and spices like garlic, paprika, chilies, citrus, curry powder, and cinnamon. Chickens also have an aversion to unfamiliar smells. Adding new herbs and spices along your garden’s border can help keep the chickens out.
You can keep chickens in the yard without fencing by having a chicken tractor. A chicken tractor is a small, movable coop. You can also keep them in a chicken coop with a large run. This will keep your chickens protected without you needing to fence in your yard.
You can keep your neighbor’s chicken out of your garden by installing fences around your property. You can also try adding herbs, spices, citruses, or a scarecrow. If that doesn’t work, you can nicely ask your neighbor if he could keep his flock fenced in within his backyard.
- Calendula Benefits & How to Use This All-Purpose Plant. Retrieved from: https://allgoodproducts.com/calendula-benefits-how-to-use-this-all-purpose-plant/
- Building and Using Wattle Fences. Retrieved from: https://www.backwoodshome.com/building-and-using-wattle-fences-2/
- Lights, Camera, Action! Spotlight on the Chicken Ladies. Retrieved from: https://www.hartwoodfarm.com/farm-blog/chickens
- 15 Best Guard Dogs To Protect Your Family And Home. Retrieved from: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/pets/g22997516/best-guard-dogs/
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.