I was also surprised how destructive a few chickens can be to the landscaping. I've got 4 SLW's, they were penned in an area 4' by 12', and allowed to free range in the 80' by 90' back yard. I'd usually let them out for a few hours every day. They traumatized some of my perennials and damaged some of the ground covers that had shallower roots. I moved the pen around, and they did kill a lot of the grass where they were penned. I really liked having them around, though - they would follow me around when I was gardening. I had a 2 foot fence around the vegetable garden, and that was enough to keep them out of it. I think I may make a permanent pen for them this year, and "enhance" it with a dust bathing area and multiple roosting areas. I can't imagine not letting them out, though. They have such a good time scratching around under the bushes, catching bugs, etc.