Chicken Landscaping (our plan)

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by traceyleezle, Jan 22, 2010.

  1. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    The backstory: We live in my husband's grandmother's old house, he bought it when she passed. The history of the property is that back in the early 1900's his family owned a buggy shop and then when those good old horseless carriages came along it was turned into a mechanics garage. It's a very small piece of property and over the years there has been concrete put down and taking out in the back yard. So long story short, we have a back yard that does not have topsoil, it's mostly shale and pebble and the only thing that grows really well is weeds and clover. I say to my husband in the summer, "The weeds need mowing." I have tried to garden in it for the past three years and it's just not happening. We really need to buy some top soil and amendment if we someday want a real lawn (YES! YES! YES!)

    So here's the story, we waffled back and forth about whether to build a chicken tractor or a stationary chicken coop with a movable run. I was looking out the window at our back yard last night cursing our horrid soil and my failed attempt at a decent garden over the past three summers. You can tell where the "garden" was as it's the high patch of awful looking dead weeds which will magically come back to life in a couple of months It's a real eye sore and I'm not even going to try gardening this year as the soil itself just needs so much work. Anyway, it hit me! Why don't we put in a stationary coop and run right where the garden is! Chickens will definitely "landscape" it for us and really go to town on the weeds, grass, and bugs, etc. I'm hoping they will take it right down to the very dirt and just completely decimate the foliage. Then this fall I can turn the stationary run into a movable run which can be moved around the yard each day and plant winter rye in the dirt and we can start working on building up some decent soil. The total area is 10'x20'

    What do you chicken experts think? Lay it on me!
     
  2. kcsunshine

    kcsunshine Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 3, 2009
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    Sounds like a great plan. Your chicks will do a great job for you.

    You know also, you can build a raised bed to grow some veggies in. Or just lay down some cardboard or wet newspaper and start piling on leaves, grass clippings, peat, etc. (lasagna gardening style). You can plant some things in the pile (even before it decomposes) and believe it or not, they will grow. That's how I started my herb garden and it's doing great.
     
  3. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Yes, I am actually planning on having two small raised beds closer to the back door this year. I am having a baby at the end of June so I really want an easy to attend to garden and as my poor husband has found out, I refuse to give up on a garden on this measly scratch of back yard. Poor man. [​IMG]
     
  4. possumqueen

    possumqueen Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 17, 2009
    Monroe, North Carolina
    [​IMG]

    You go, Sister!!!!!

    The whole thing is brilliant. A great idea! AND it will work.

    suggestion: when they get it down to the dirt, start putting in a little sand, a little shavings, to keep it soft. They'll mix their poops in with the sand and shavings and the whole thing will become a deep bedding setup to keep THEM clean AND rebuild your garden patch.

    And with your new boss on its way you'll have a lot less work to do.

    Where are you? What part of the country?
     
  5. Hen_House_Rocks!

    Hen_House_Rocks! Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Google lasagna gardening. I had the same problem. Two years ago when we built our garage, we had a strip between the garage and sidewalk where I really wanted a lettuce garden. But it was all gravelly and sandy. I started dumping lawn clippings in there on top of a thick layer of newspaper. Then I mixed in some straw and added a very thin layer of topsoil on top of that. (Maybe one inch thick over the whole thing.) I grew the best lettuce in that strip. Way better than in my garden which gets compost and chicken poo mixed in liberally each year. I just kept adding layers of grass and straw and topsoil when I had a bunch collected. It's worked great for me and didn't hardly cost anything. Straw is cheap, and I used so little topsoil that it didn't cost much at all.
     
  6. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    I am in South Central PA, close to Chambersburg. We are about 45 mins from Gettysburg and 45 mins from Hagerstown, MD.
    Now I just have to find a good, cheap, and easy to build coop plan. There are so many on the internet!
     
  7. traceyleezle

    traceyleezle Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 21, 2010
    Hen_House_Rocks! :

    Google lasagna gardening. I had the same problem. Two years ago when we built our garage, we had a strip between the garage and sidewalk where I really wanted a lettuce garden. But it was all gravelly and sandy. I started dumping lawn clippings in there on top of a thick layer of newspaper. Then I mixed in some straw and added a very thin layer of topsoil on top of that. (Maybe one inch thick over the whole thing.) I grew the best lettuce in that strip. Way better than in my garden which gets compost and chicken poo mixed in liberally each year. I just kept adding layers of grass and straw and topsoil when I had a bunch collected. It's worked great for me and didn't hardly cost anything. Straw is cheap, and I used so little topsoil that it didn't cost much at all.

    To be completely honest I don't want to put in too much time refurbishing the soil, otherwise it will make it that much harder to get Hubby to move. Shhhhh....[​IMG] We really want a small bit of land (2 or 3) acres and a fixer upper. I figure the more work we put in around here, the less likely Hubby will want to move.​
     
  8. RHewitt

    RHewitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    For your garden you could build some raised beds out of 2 by 8's say 3 ft wide and 8ft long. Fill them with some top soil. Then build a movable coop or two that fit down over top of these beds so that the chickens can till the spoil and fertilize it over the next couple of months. In the spring you will have a bed fertilzied and ready to plant. If you build a few of these you can move the chickens around from bed to bed as your season plants begin to die off and keep something growing. In the fall you can plant winter rye and when it is up can green the chickens will have some nice green stuff to eat and it should last if you rotate the coop from bed to bed frequently. 2 to 3 hens per movable coop should do the trick. I saw an article in Backyard Poultry recently that had a story about this and I am plannign to try it this spring myself.

    The pebble and shale under these beds woudl let water seep out nicely and the 8 inches of top soit in your beds will give you plants lot so room to spread roots. Just an idea to help the garden part until you can enough topsoil to redo your yard.
     
  9. RHewitt

    RHewitt Chillin' With My Peeps

    These beds can move with you when you go but it may be tough for him to leave grandma's place.
     
  10. tcp97b

    tcp97b Out Of The Brooder

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    Jan 3, 2010
    Abilene, TX
    Check out Mel Barthlomew's "Square Foot Gardening" book. I checked mine out from my Library. His method uses 2x6s to create beds that are 4 ft by 4 ft. This way they are easy to work from any side. Weed cloth on the bottom, and filled with a mix of 1/3 mixed compost, 1/3 vermiculite, and 1/3 peat moss. No weeds because you purchase everything - the compost can be yours or purchased. Take a look. I plan on doing a couple of 4x4 test beds this year, then expanding a little each year.
     

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