I'm just starting a small coop for 6 chicks. I've read some of the discussions where people say they bury the hardware cloth along the bottom of the run to prevent predators from digging under the run. How do you do that with lawn and hard-pan dirt. I read about someone who used some kind of sheet metal instead of hardware cloth and I thought that would be better, (no bending of the metal like hardware cloth) but where do you get something like that??
How to bury hardware cloth for under coop and runs.
I started my coop and run in November last year and finished in the beginning of January. I live in Maricopa County just north of Phoenix, AZ, and the soil in my particular location is mostly extremely compacted clay, caliche, and some rocks. It's the most difficult soil I've ever dealt with and a pure nightmare compared to PA where I used to live.
When I designed my coop/run I wanted to bury the hardware cloth around the perimeter down at least a foot. I knew this would be challenging from past experience digging planting holes and post holes, and probably the easiest thing to do would be rent a trencher, but since I wasn't in a rush and we were only talking about 80' total I decided to do it manually. Anyway I turned to the tools that served me best in this endeavor, which is a pick axe and a caliche bar (San Angelo bar). If you haven't worked with a caliche bar it's similar to a crow bar in diameter but about 6' long, straight, and has a chisel tip on one end and a point on the other. It weighs about 20-25 lbs and you can get one at any Home Depot or Lowes. This tool is invaluable for digging in hard pan clay, and I wouldn't have been able to do a lot of things in my yard without it. I managed to dig the trench with a neighbor's help in two days. It wasn't easy but most any activity with this kind of soil never is.
I never thought about using sheet metal and it sounds like a good idea if you have soft clay but I doubt it'll penetrate dry, hardpan type clay. Also I'm sure when you encounter a rock it'd stop dead in it's tracks. In addition I don't know how you'd drive it into the ground since there's nowhere to "hammer" it without damaging the top
So, just my opinion, but I'd go at it with a pickaxe, a caliche bar, and maybe a trenching shovel that you can pick up at Homeless Depot. If you're pressed for time and/or have a long run it might be worth it to rent a trencher or even call a landscape company to do it for you. With a trencher you can pretty much get it done in hours instead of days. Just be sure to check for underground utilities first if you're in an urban/suburban setting. Your local utility will usually do this for free.
Thanks so much. I never heard of a calliche bar or a trenching shovel. This coop/run will be in a lawn, so the sod is also hard to get through. We have bermuda grass which is the worst thing to try to get through. I think I might try to see if a landscape place has a trencher. I'm 81, and even tho' I'm building my own coop, digging is another thing. Thanks again.
Where I live now, the main problem is coyotes, so we have a welded wire apron covered with plants, rocks and dirt.
Never had a problem so far. I believe in making your coop and run as secure as you can at the beginning..
If you scalp the lawn down and then attach one side of the hardware cloth to the structure and pin the other end down with landscape staples, you can just cover it with a little dirt and mulch and let the lawn grow back through the hardware cloth, then mow it.
Good luck with your flock!
Edited by FridayYet - 4/17/16 at 9:14am
This forum has been so helpful. I am working on the design of our new coop to be built this Spring and hadnt thought about burying the hardware cloth to avoid digging from predators. I plan to use the apron method. Would going out 1 foot be enough? I plan on doing the bottom of the run with 1/2" cloth covering the bottom foot and then a foot in the dirt.