Chickens love a good garden, so if your flock found your veggies, you have to find ways to stop chickens from getting in your garden.
A few weeks ago, I went on my morning walk in the garden and realized my chickens found my kitchen garden. They ate through my lettuce and used several areas for dust bathing, destroying the plants. Needless to say, I immediately started to find ways to stop chickens from getting in my garden.
We have a flock of around 25 chickens, and we live on around one acre plus the chickens have access to my in-law’s additional one acre. There are plenty of woods and dense brush for them to enjoy.
They don’t need my garden!
While we have a chicken run attached to our barn, our older flock escapes daily. We are working on keeping them in the run, but until then, we have to stop our chickens from destroying our garden.
If you’re struggling to chicken-proof your garden, here are some of the best tips.
10 Ways to Stop Chickens From Getting in Your Garden
1. Make Sure You Don’t Have Too Many Chickens
First, make sure you don’t have too many chickens in your flock to be able to free range on your property. It’s easy to end up with too many chickens – hello chicken math – but if that’s the case, you need to let some chickens go if free ranging is your goal.
Chickens need space, and while many breeds do great in small spaces, you need to have the appropriate number based on the size of your backyard.
2. Fence Your Garden
The next step that you should take is to fence your garden. A good fence is essentially foolproof because chickens rarely fly over something to get into it. They will fly to escape but fences deter them well.
We are working on making an extensive garden around our garden, but you could always just fence your chickens’ favorite plants.
Fencing is a win-win because a good fence also keeps out rabbits (that ate my green beans this year), deer, and other critters who want to make your garden their buffet.
3. Monitor While Free-Ranging
If you want to let your chickens free range and don’t want to put a fence around your garden, monitor them when they’re free-ranging to the best of your ability. We like to spend a lot of time outside, especially in the evenings, so it’s easy to chase them out.
Typically, chasing them out regularly will deter them from going into the garden throughout the day. They learn quickly; they’re smarter than what you imagine.
4. Plant Herbs to Repel Your Chickens
Chickens smell, but what we think smells delicious is different than what our chickens think smells delicious. You can use this to your advantage and plant herbs that repel your chickens.
Chickens prefer different tastes and scents, so try incorporating different herbs in your garden that they don’t like to smell. A few herbs that chickens don’t like include:
Your chickens may taste them because they’re curious little animals, but the flavor will send them away quickly. Try planting these herbs that your chickens don’t want to eat around your garden. Instead of looking for tasty treats, they’ll head the other way.
5. Use Citrus to Stop Your Chickens
You might have heard that citrus kills chickens; that’s just a chicken myth that some people believe.
While citrus won’t kill your chickens, chances are they’ll want nothing to do with them. I noticed this whenever I threw out some leftover mandarins that my kids didn’t finish. I assumed my flock would love them.
Citrus won’t kill your flock, but they’ll stay away from it because they don’t like the scent or taste. Use this to your advantage and spread orange peels or citrus juice around your property. You also can use citrus essential oils. in your garden, but be sure to keep them off your plants because they could burn your crops.
6. Cover Exposed Soil
The biggest problem we had in our garden with our chickens is dust bathing. One of our chickens found my new strawberry bed and spent time dust bathing, uprooting and destroying several of my new strawberry plants.
Dirt is a big deal to chickens. It helps keep their oils under control in their soil and keep parasites off their bodies.
So, if your chickens have access to your garden, try to cover your exposed soil. Mulch won’t do the job; they move and bath in the mulch as well. Instead, you need landscaping fabric, mesh, netting, stones, or ground cover plants.
Basically, you want to make it impossible for your chickens to dust bathe in your garden.
7. Stop Weeding Your Garden
If you hate weeding like I do, then you might love this way to stop chickens from getting in your garden. Weeds will reduce your harvest because they take away nutrients that your plant needs, but they cover exposed soil.
No dust bathing for your chickens.
Also, when you have weeds in your garden, it reduces the chances that your flock will only eat your veggies. They have other plants to eat in your garden.
8. Use Chicken Tractors or Chicken Hoops
One way to let your chickens out in the yard but contained is to use chicken tractors or chicken hoops. These are moveable, and you can place them where you want your chickens. Your chickens even have access to your garden without any worry that they’ll eat up all of your plants.
One of my goals is to make chicken hoops that are the length of the paths in my garden and use chickens to keep the weeds down in these areas.
9. Have a Garden for the Chickens
I put this option at the end of the list because I know planting a garden just for your chickens might be something you don’t have time to do, but a chicken garden might keep your flock out of your garden.
Make sure you include some of their favorite crops and a space for them to dust bath in exposed dirt. You could put a small fountain for your chickens as well to encourage them to stay in that area.
10. Use a Motion Sensor Sprinkler
Chickens aren’t a fan of water; you probably have realized that if you have sprayed your chickens with your hose. They take off in the other direction, but who has time to stand there and defend your garden with a hose all day?
The solution is to put a motion sensor sprinkler near your garden. Each time chicken comes into your garden, the sprinkler starts to spray water. However, it’s also going to spray any pets, kids, and adults that get near it as well.
Keeping Chickens Out of Your Garden
The last thing you want is your flock to destroy your garden. Use these tricks to stop chickens from getting in your garden and eating all of your plants. Chickens are highly destructive when left to do what they want, so make sure you pay attention to your flock.