As an urban farmer I decided to add ducks to my backyard organic garden design. My design called for the use of all salvaged and re-purposed materials to complete my envisioned garden/duck yard combination. Reduce-Reuse-Recycle
I followed permaculture principles in designing my garden/duck yard. While most feel ducks are too messy fouling their water and are avoided, with proper management this negative turns in to a big positive. Their manure is one of the best fertilizers available. My garden needs 3 things to flourish 1. Fertilizer 2. Water 3. Pest control. These are all provided by Ducks in the Garden. When available ducks will spend a large amount of their time in the water. Their pool becomes a fertilizer factory on tap. Unlike chicken waste duck manure is not too hot to be used without composting. All is needed is transporting it to the plants. This is accomplished by raising their pool which then allows gravity fed drainage through a garden hose. Fertilized enriched water can now be delivered directly to root zone of the plants.
My small garden (53' by 28') design uses only 2 ducks. I placed the dedicated duck area at the end of the garden design. Separating the garden/duck yard with a wire fence and gate which will be left open most times, allowing the ducks to do their job of pest control. The ducks are only shut in this area in spring when the whole garden is replanted with tender seedlings. Once the seedlings reach a less vulnerable size the gate is opened for the season.
The above wooden exterior picket garden fence is 24 inches tall while the dedicated duck pen in the rear is 34 inches tall. They are both made from pallets decorated with salvaged materials. These are connected to my existing privacy fence.
On review I would suggest the fence be 30 inches instead of 24. Since I use ducks from the light breed (Indian Runners) I have one who began to go over the fence this year. I have since extended my fence to 30 inches tall.
The original duck pool above was made from a salvaged plastic stock tank. It was placed on cement blocks which allows a water hose attached to a bottom drain to gravity feed the nutrient rich duck water to the root zone of my garden plants. I replaced the stock tank pool with half of a ibc tote shown below. IBC totes have a more efficient bottom drain design. The smaller size also allows it to be drained more often. I also raised it 16 inches higher so it drains faster. I added a roof which cut down on algae bloom so water stayed cleaner longer.The pool ramp is 12 inches wide and 10 feet long which I feel helps keep their pool cleaner than an in ground pond would be. Since garden soil can not be carried into the pool.. The flat bottom of the stock tank pool design turned out to be very difficult to clean and drain completely.
The above duck house is made from a re purposed plastic dog house. A drop down plywood door/ramp was added, which is closed at night for their protection. The dog house roof is removable to allowing easy cleaning. A liberal piece of vinyl flooring was placed on the floor allowing it to be removed and hosed off to reduce cleanup labor.
All 3 gates were made using pallets The 2 butterfly gates are actually one pallet cut into 2 pieces. The 36 inch gate below that opens directly into the duck yard section is painted to reflect the theme of my project " Ducks At Work"
I used a salvaged grill top as a rain cover for their food bowl which rests in a small tire both painted to look like lady bugs which kids really enjoy. Since my garden is designed as an tool to educate kids on the circle of life in nature as well as where our food comes from. Something I feel is lacking today in our young peoples education.
I feel my duck yard/garden is a good example that demonstrates you can inexpensively build an attractive coop with refurbished and up cycled materials. I spent $125.00 to complete my project which could have been reduced $55.00 if I would have only used one paint color. My purchased items were - The multi colored paints alone were $78.00 the remaining $47.00 were spent on plumping adapters for pool drainage and fence wire. All other materials were salvaged.
While I am sure my 2 Indian Runners would be happiest on a large farm with a pond to free range and an expensive floating duck castle, with my limited means I have tried to provide my city ducks with a functional, comfortable, roomy, and loving home.
This is Elsa and Ona hatched June,2015. These ducks will also add another valuable contribution to their laborious garden duties in the form of egg production. Wow, fertilizer production, pest control, nutritious free range eggs and free entertainmentall by adding
"Ducks in the Garden" Who knew ducks could be such hard workers?
Are you excited? Do you think you might like to add ducks in your garden? To be succeed you must follow a few principles. Please read my article on how to successfully manage ducks in your garden.https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/successfully-managing-ducks-in-the-garden While it does take a little work the results are very rewarding.