Foliage and backyard fowl might seem like a perfect match, but sometimes it pays to keep your chickens out of your plants.
Sure, they can be great controllers of certain pests, but they can also get into flowers or seeds that aren't healthy for them. Additionally, they might fancy a taste of edible, nontoxic plants that you'd rather they stay away from. Whatever the case may be, it's time to chicken-proof your garden (or garden-proof your chickens)!
How to Get Started
It is simply satisfying to watch chickens roam the backyard, scratching around and foraging for their next snack. Even more so is when they seem to blend in with your perennials or herbs, keeping your garden free of pesky insects. But what happens when they ravage your prized plants? To be sure, in order to create a peaceful and safe coexistence, a great deal of consideration is necessary to keep your chickens and your plants healthy and strong.
Smart, Safe Planting
Every gardener/chicken aficionado wants to create a harmonious landscape for the flock. While the following plants are certainly beautiful in any ornamental garden bed, they can definitely cause health problems in your chickens:
- Spreading ground ivy
- St. John's wort
- Lily of the valley
If you do have these plants growing in your yard, be sure your chickens cannot access them. Better yet, uproot them and plant them in containers off the ground, or rehome them to friends.
When it comes to vegetables with unsafe levels of toxins, rhubarb and onion top the list. Nightshade varieties like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and potatoes can be highly dangerous for chickens.
Free Range, Free to Taste
To truly chicken-proof your garden, you might not allow your chickens to have unfettered access to your entire outdoor space. It can be worthwhile to contain them only in certain areas. This will allow for any chicken waste to remain behind pens or fencing but also keeps your tasty vegetables safe from sampling.
To soften the rather unfriendly appearance of pens, hardware cloth, poultry netting, or metal fencing, there are some plants that repel chickens without being toxic to their health. Lavender, marigolds, rosemary, calendula, or peppermint are great for the kitchen/bath, but chickens highly dislike them.
Chicken-Proof Your Garden
Perhaps one of the best ways to chicken-proof your garden is to have an area that contains plants just for them. Plants like kale, cucumbers, sunflowers (seeds only), and weeds such as dandelions are excellent snacks for a peckish chicken.
One of the best things about raising chickens around your garden is that they will keep it tidy from insects. Exposing your chickens to commercial pesticides can be very dangerous, and since they do such a great job at eating pests, it is also entirely unnecessary.
If you have further questions about the best ways to chicken-proof your garden (or garden-proof your chickens), please give us a call at (727) 381-3900. Our staff is always here for you.