If you keep chickens, you probably have found them in your garden on occasion causing some damage. While they don’t intentionally damage your garden, they may eat seeds, make holes for dust baths, and eat your fruits and vegetables. When that happens, the question of how to keep chickens out of the garden is likely to arise.
Luckily, there are plenty of options to prevent your chickens from getting into your garden and damaging your plants. We have collated ways to prevent chickens from getting into your garden in this article so you can find a way that best suits you.
How to Keep Chickens Out of Your Garden in Free or Inexpensive Ways
If you keep a backyard chicken coop, the likelihood of your chickens finding their way into your garden area is high. Chickens are curious creatures and like to investigate their surrounding areas. Most chicken breeds also enjoy free ranging and can be tempted to check out your garden for tasty treats.
Below, you will find a range of ways to keep your flock in their designated area. All of these ways are inexpensive and none will hurt your chickens in any way.
1. Plant Herbs and Plants Your Chickens Do Not Like
Some herbs and plants are effective at repelling chickens because chickens do not like the way they smell. These herbs and plants include lavender, oregano, nasturtiums, petunias, thyme, and chamomile. The added benefit of this method of keeping chickens out of the garden is that you can use herbs in your cooking.
2. Use Citrus Fruits
Chickens do not like citrus fruits so adding citrus peels on the borders of your garden can prevent the chickens from entering it. When you have oranges, lemons, limes, or other citrus fruits, keep the peels for your garden. Add fresh peels periodically to keep them effective. You can also try citrus juice, but that may need replenishing more often.
3. Spread Spices on The Borders
Chickens will not want to come near your garden if it is surrounded by strong spices. This method works similarly to citrus fruits and herbs with the smells working as a deterrent.
In addition, stepping on the spices will feel unpleasant on their feet. Spices such as paprika, garlic, curry powder, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon work well. You can use them on their own or in combination with citrus and herbs.
4. Let Weeds Grow in Your Garden
Considering how much time gardeners spend on weeding their gardens, it may seem strange to suggest that you let the weeds grow. As you pull out weeds, you can expose bugs living in the soil. Your chickens are unlikely to be able to resist the temptation of easy access to bugs.
If this method doesn’t appeal to you because weedy gardens can look untidy and weeds will also use nutrients you want your plants to have, add bricks or stones on top of the soil. And if that doesn’t appeal to you either, luckily there are many other options for you.
5. Plan Where to Plant
If you have a smaller outdoor space and limiting the chickens’ movement would be difficult without confining them into a too-small space, think strategically when planning what and where to plant. Chickens are easily distracted by their favorites, so have those planted close to the coop.
If they have access to tasty foods they like close to their coop, they are less likely to want to wander further into your garden and find things you don’t want them to eat. You can also use hanging planters and even raised beds. If you have them high enough, likely, your chickens will not realize there are plants above their eye level.
6. Don’t Plant Things They Like
While planting herbs can deter chickens from entering the garden area, things they like to peck on will attract them. While you might like to plant things such as lettuce or kale, these are likely to tempt the chickens into your garden so consider growing plants they are less likely to eat.
7. Plant Living Fences
Another natural and low-cost option is to plant shrubs on the borders of your garden. They have very dense foliage, which makes it hard for chickens to get through them. Shrubs can also add a new look to your garden and create more distinct areas.
8. Make a Garden for Your Chickens
One way to keep the chickens out of your garden is to give them a chicken garden. Plant in their garden all the things they like. This will stop them from wanting to explore further afield. In addition to edibles, also include water sources, dust baths, and shade.
9. Supervise Your Chickens
If you are spending time in your garden while your chickens are out of their coop, you can supervise them and stop them from entering parts of the garden you don’t want them in. However, this option is time-consuming and will only work while you are out with them. So it really isn’t a long-term solution.
10. Train Your Chickens
If you can teach a chicken to eat from your hand, you can also teach them the boundaries of their space. To train your chickens you will need patience, time, and consistency but when you repeatedly shoo them away from the garden, they will learn to stay away.
11. Have a Smaller Flock
If you often find your chickens in your garden, it could be a sign that you have too many for the space provided for them. While chickens are sociable birds, they also like their own space and can venture further from the coop to find it. For a small urban backyard coop, five chickens is a manageable number.
Methods to Keep Chickens Out of Gardens That Cost More Money
If you have tried the above methods, there are other ways to keep your chickens out of the garden. Many of the methods below take a bit more effort and a bit more money but if you are looking to do it on as small a budget as possible, you can save by, for example, using recycled or leftover materials.
1. Build a Chicken Fence
To keep your chickens out of your garden, you can build a simple fence around the area they are not supposed to go in. If you are building a fence, you need to consider the flying ability of your chickens.
While chickens cannot fly far, some breeds can burst-fly high enough to get over a low fence. Large and heavy breeds will only manage a few feet up in the air so lower fences will be enough to deter them, for lighter and smaller breeds you will need higher fences. Some people trim the chickens’ wings to stop them from flying over fences.
2. Put Chicken Wire Around Your Garden
Chicken wire is an alternative to building a fence around your garden. Many people are not keen on this option since it doesn’t look very attractive. However, you don’t need to stretch the chicken wire fencing all around the garden’s perimeter. You could just use it around the plants your chicken are most likely to eat.
3. Cover Plants With Hardware Cloth
If the option of choosing chicken wire is not for you, try protecting your garden from your chickens with hardware cloth. Use the hardware cloth to create boxes that you can place over your seedlings and other plants, such as lettuce or cabbage, you don’t want your chickens to nibble on.
If you have seedlings or seeds that you have planted that you want to protect from chickens, you can use the cloth to cover them, too. Just use stones or brick to lift the cover high enough off the ground to give the plants room to grow.
4. Install Scarecrows or Decoys in Your Garden
You can stop your chickens from entering the garden by placing realistic-looking decoys in or near your garden. If the chickens think there are predators, such as hawks or owls lurking in the garden, they will avoid the area. However, you need to reposition and change your decoys or scarecrows periodically or your chickens will grow used to them.
5. Set Up Pinwheels
Using pinwheels in your garden can also keep your chickens away. They work similarly to decoy predators. The best pinwheels to use are metallic or brightly colored. As air currents make the pinwheels move suddenly, this will scare the chickens away.
6. Get a Sprinkler With a Motion Sensor
Water is a very effective way to keep chickens out of your garden. Whilst you could stand there with a spray bottle ready to spray your chickens when they set foot into the garden, most people have too many other things to do than to stand there in wait.
A better solution is to get a motion-activated sprinkler. When a chicken nears the sprinkler, it will tricker the sensor and set the sprinkler off. One downside is that if your chickens persistently try to get past it, your plants could get too wet. The other is that pets, kids, and adults will also trigger the sprinkler.
7. Get a Chicken Tractor
If you are new to keeping chickens, you may not have heard about chicken tractors. So what are they? Chicken tractors are movable coops that have no floor. It makes it possible for you to move your chickens around your garden so they can explore new areas without letting them near plants you don’t want them to eat or damage.
Having your chickens roam in your garden can be beneficial and with a chicken tractor, you get the benefits without the damage. Since the setup has no floor, chickens can scratch, dig, and poop in the dirt, fertilizing and aerating the soil.
8. Create Dedicated Dust Bath Areas
One of the reasons chickens may want to get into your garden is to have dust baths in the soil. You can prevent this by creating a dedicated dust bath area for them. Create a patch of dirt near the coop and as far away from your garden as possible. The ideal size for the patch is three by three feet.
9. Get a Dog
We have left this option for last as it requires the most effort and expense on your behalf. Even if you get a free rescue dog, there are still the expenses of insurance and food for a dog.
The benefit of getting a dog is that you can train it to keep the chickens in check, a bit like a sheepdog herding its sheep and it can be another companion for you and your family.
However, if you like this option, you need to think carefully about the choice of breed. Some breeds are much easier to train to look after the chickens than others. Dogs that are used to working with animals are often a safe choice.
If you like to let your chickens wander around freely, the chances are that at some point they will find their way into your garden. Chickens in vegetable gardens are not always good news as they can eat seeds, dig up seedlings, and eat leaves and stalks of your plants. Luckily, there are several things you can do to stop that from happening.
Many of the methods are very cheap and others will not cost you anything. Some methods require a bit more effort and money to set up but can be a more permanent solution, for example building a fence compared to sprinkling spices in the garden.
We hope that you have found a method that works for you. If you would like to ask anything else about the topic, you can write your questions in the comments box.