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How to Keep Free-Range Chickens Out of Your Garden

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Jessica is an experienced pet mom with dogs, cats, rats, fish, axolotls, a gecko, chickens, and ducks.


For many of us, keeping chickens and gardening are ways of life. Seeing your chickens free-roaming and pecking around the yard can be a peaceful sight, but not if they decide to start pecking at your garden. Luckily, there are ways to keep your chickens away from your garden so you can enjoy both fresh eggs and fresh veggies! This article will go over 5 methods to keep your chickens from getting into your garden.

1. Make a Fence Around Your Garden

The simplest way to keep chickens from messing with your garden is to completely stop them from being in there. As long as they can't fly over, a simple fence might be the easiest way to stop them from getting to your crops. When building the fence some things to consider are making sure that your chickens cant fit through the holes in the fence, and making sure that it is tall enough. Also, make sure that you either choose a material that is not easy for chickens to peck through, or keep your plants away from the fence.

The best types of fences for keeping chickens out are made out of hardware cloth, chicken wire, or wood. Plant cages made out of chicken wire or hardware cloth are effective as well. For plant cages, hardware cloth will keep your plants safer but chicken wire is easier to work with and less expensive. If none of these fencing options work for you, some people have even had success using bricks or cement blocks around their plants to deter their chickens from pecking at the dirt.

an example of a little fence over garden plants

an example of a little fence over garden plants

2. Grow Plants Your Chickens Don't Like

Another easy way to keep your chickens away from your garden is to deter them with plants that they don't like. Some examples of plants that deter chickens are:

  • Peppermint
  • Marigold
  • Catnip
  • Chives
  • Marjoram
  • Lavender
  • Yarrow
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Tansy

Chickens do not like the strong smell and taste of these plants and most of the time they will avoid them. This method is not as foolproof as putting up a fence, but it is much more aesthetically pleasing! Just put these plants around the perimeter of your garden to keep chickens out.

Chickens will stay away from lavender, and as a bonus, it is great for bees!

Chickens will stay away from lavender, and as a bonus, it is great for bees!

3. Don't Weed Your Garden as Much

I'm definitely not recommending that you don't weed your garden at all, but it might be wise to leave some weeds. Chickens love to take dust baths in loose soil and peck at the dirt, so a freshly weeded garden will be very tempting to them. Leave a few weeds so that the dirt around your plants isn't too soft. Your chickens might even peck at the weeds instead of your plants.

4. Arrange Your Yard Strategically

There are some things to take into consideration when it comes to your chickens and garden happily coexisting. First, make sure that you have enough space to accommodate the number of chickens you have and the garden size you want. If you have a lot of chickens and you take up most of the room in your yard with a garden, of course, they will get into your veggies. If you can, make sure that they have plenty of room to run around and give them other things to do in the space that they have.

Giving your chickens distractions can be very helpful. Make them specific places to dust bathe, throw them kitchen scraps every day, make them a nice cool area, and even try giving them toys. It might even be worth it to grow plants just for them in an area away from your crops. Chickens like berries, sunflowers, and all sorts of greens. Doing these things might be enough to distract your chickens and keep them away from your garden.


5. Try Keeping Your Chickens in a Chicken Run for Part of the Day

If you have tried everything and your chickens are still destroying your garden, it might be worth it to keep them in a chicken run. You can still let them out for supervised free-range time to get all of those awesome benefits for your eggs, but this way you can keep them out of your garden.

If you are worried that your chickens will get bored in their pen there are lots of things you can do to keep them entertained. Try giving them activities like hanging a mirror for them to look at, a xylophone to play, or a head of lettuce or some other treat to peck at. I have even used toys just for chickens like this one. Remember, they don't have to be stuck in the run forever, just until your fruits and veggies are finished growing!

My hen, Fern, pecking at a treat in her run.

My hen, Fern, pecking at a treat in her run.

It is completely possible to enjoy having chickens and having a garden! Although it can be a bit of work to have both, the benefits of having fresh food from your own backyard are so worth it.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Jess H