Chicken run in existing garden- good idea?

Nov 30, 2021
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Hi there!
I am new to chickens, don't have any yet, but preparing to welcome three in the spring. In the mean time I have been researching, reading and planning where they will go! I have a 'meh' garden at the back of the yard, and a large honeysuckle bush (invasive so eventually I will replace with a native tree but provides shade for now) . I was thinking about putting the coop beside the tree for shade, and building the run around the current garden. In the garden are two small trees (elderberry, cherry tree, both about a metre tall currently) as well as some perrennials such as peonies, a small climbing rose, strawberries and a hydrangea and a couple taller lilac trees. The ground is already wood chips and the garden is usually mulched with wood chips and straw. Will they just obliterate everything or will they be okay in this wild run, If they are out free ranging a lot of the day (when I can supervise)? My phone is broken at the moment so I can't attach any photos, and it's winter. Any thoughts welcome :)
 

3KillerBs

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Welcome to BYC. It's terrific that you are looking into these things before you get the chickens.

Where, in general, are you located? Climate matters, particularly when it comes to housing.

Chickens will destroy any plants smaller than a well-established shrub so you'd have to protect your young trees, your perennials, your strawberries, and any other plants you want to keep with wire cages. Whether they can remove your honeysuckle for your or not depends on the relative size of the bush to the number of chickens. :D

Planning for shade is excellent. Also, they will love the wood chips and straw -- scratching happily in search of insects and weed seeds.

Here's some basic information about chicken's space needs in case you don't already have it.

For each adult, standard-sized hen you need:

4 square feet in the coop (.37 square meters)
10 square feet in the run (.93 square meters),
1 linear foot of roost (.3 meters),
1/4 of a nest box,
And 1 square foot (.09 square meters) of permanent, 24/7/365 ventilation, preferably located over the birds' heads when they're sitting on the roost.

The BYC store has a useful book to get your chickens and your garden working together: https://www.coopedup.net/buy/index.php?route=product/product&path=43&product_id=57
 
Nov 30, 2021
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thank you! I should have mentioned- I am in south-eastern Ontario, zone 6b. We get hot humid summers (30c is common) and cold dry winters (average about -10 is not uncommon, often colder). The bushes and big shade tree are well established but I will definitely wrap the young trees with a little chicken wire fence. I don't mind if they eat the other stuff, more was wondering if they'd bother things that don't seem that tasty like lambs ear, roses and peony? This is the section of the garden that is my last to develop (I am mostly using native plants in the yard other than this section) and not my main vegetable garden (they'll be supervised around that!). Does that change anyone's opinion? I wish I could share a photo to better illustrate. Hopefully phone is repaired soon.
 

3KillerBs

Enabler
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
Jul 10, 2009
12,015
31,577
1,116
North Carolina Sandhills
My Coop
My Coop
thank you! I should have mentioned- I am in south-eastern Ontario, zone 6b. We get hot humid summers (30c is common) and cold dry winters (average about -10 is not uncommon, often colder). The bushes and big shade tree are well established but I will definitely wrap the young trees with a little chicken wire fence. I don't mind if they eat the other stuff, more was wondering if they'd bother things that don't seem that tasty like lambs ear, roses and peony? This is the section of the garden that is my last to develop (I am mostly using native plants in the yard other than this section) and not my main vegetable garden (they'll be supervised around that!). Does that change anyone's opinion? I wish I could share a photo to better illustrate. Hopefully phone is repaired soon.

Check out that book I linked. I think you'll find it very helpful.
 

perkolator

Songster
Aug 20, 2019
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…Does that change anyone's opinion?
If it’s not your veg garden/flower bed, etc you may be ok. You can always relocate them later if you see they’re going to destroy the area, or perhaps keep a rotating area they go to. Established plants are usually ok, the chickens just like to scratch out all the dirt near root zones for finding goodies and dirt bathing. I haven’t found many plants they’ll completely destroy unless they’re confined to the space and it’s tasty enough foliage.
 
Nov 30, 2021
43
42
61
If it’s not your veg garden/flower bed, etc you may be ok. You can always relocate them later if you see they’re going to destroy the area, or perhaps keep a rotating area they go to. Established plants are usually ok, the chickens just like to scratch out all the dirt near root zones for finding goodies and dirt bathing. I haven’t found many plants they’ll completely destroy unless they’re confined to the space and it’s tasty enough foliage.
thank you !
 

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