Convert area of lawn back to woods ??

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by JoeOxfordCT, Mar 14, 2009.

  1. JoeOxfordCT

    JoeOxfordCT Songster

    Oct 13, 2007
    Oxford, CT.
    Hi All,

    I put my coop out in my side yard under a large oak tree. My side yard is surrounded by woods on basically all three sides. I would like to convert this area, roughly a triangle about 120' each side, back to woods so the chickens can have more cover when I let them out of their pen....and of course less grass for me to cut too !

    Can anyone give me some reccommendations as to what's the quickest way, or what I should be planting ?

    The surrounding woods are a mixture of hardwoods, oak, ash, etc. I am thinking of a mixture of pines (for year round foliage/cover) and maybe some types of bushes ?? Fire bush ? Maybe some ground covers ?? We have lots of wild grape vines and while they give quick cover I have to cut them back frequently as they will overspread trees and ultimately choke them out and kill them. I don't expect this to be a one or two year project but I have to start somewhere.

    Thanks !!!
  2. pinguin

    pinguin In the Brooder

    Jan 4, 2009
    SW IL
    Quote:By "fire bush," do you mean burning bush (Euonymus alatus)? They can be invasive. You might want to check the USDA site for information on plants that would do well in your area but are not considered noxious weeds or are invasive. Native shrubs, trees, & ground covers are your best bet.

    I'd think the chickens would be happiest with a ground cover of fallen leaves. Be a great place to dump litter from their coop, too.

    You may need to protect young plants till they're large enough not to be considered a peckable treat. We use two techniques: 1) a section of black drainage pipe, split down the length or 2) a wire cage made from 3- to 4-ft welded wire.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2009
  3. I wouldn't do a lot, since chickens are such prodigious diggers. See what survives the first year!

    Will the birds have a backup area, like a roofed run? An area that big might need protection from owls and other raptors...
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Yeah, isn't burning bush an invasive problem in much of New England?

    I'd plant some pines this year, let them get going. Beyond that your quickest cover for the chickens is likely to come from shrubs and small trees. For small trees, is Amur maple invasive in your area? If not, it grows quickly, is bone hardy and doesn't get too big (like 15'). Also, if there are no issues with buried waterlines etc you might consider some of the SMALL willows (the shrubby type ones that don't get past 10-15' or so) as they grow quite rapidly and most will tolerate even moderately dry soil if given some help when first establishing.

    For shrubs, consider ninebark, not the foofy colored-leaved 'compact' cultivars but the actual species if possible (although 'Dart's Gold' gets pretty big and doesn't look too bizarrely foofy, it is somewhat yellow leaved). They grow pretty fast into large shrubs with arching spreading branches that would make very good chicken cover. It will grow pretty much anywhere. There are many other possibilities too, of course, consult your state extension agency or dept of natural resources (you might call it 'wildlife habitat creation' rather than 'a place for my chickens' when you're talking to them, lol)

    I would suggest spending a bit more money on non-tiny trees, rather than getting teeny 10" seedlings for cheap from the DNR or whatever... a 10" pine seedling will keel over and die the instant a chicken comes by, whereas a 2' young tree should not be bothered as long as the chickens do not scratch right around where its rootball went in (and cardboard and mulch, which you'd want anyhow, should discourage that)

    Good luck, have fun,

  5. BaronRenfrew

    BaronRenfrew Songster

    You can plant trees but it'll be a while until it becomes a forest. It has to be planted thickly for that. I dig up trees along roadsides (where they will be mowed anyways) and replant. You should start with some height to provide cover. Most important, whatever you do plant, put a foot or two of bark or wood chips for mulch around the base of the tree. that will double the speed of growth by choking weeds and keeping moisture. Do NOT put sawdust whatever you do as it will soak up water and the tree will die of drought. We have a bagger on the mower and put the clippings around trees with amazing results. It looks ugly with big piles of grass but it rots fast and becomes too heavy for chickens to dig through. Do be aware that the chickens will dig in it so you may want it partially fenced so you can rotate them in and out.

    Fruit trees, pines and spruces, nut trees, are all good and whatever is suitable for your zone or what grows in the area already. keep in mind the location of water pipes that some tree roots will go after.

    Tired of mowing the lawn? Put in some native grasses and let them grow tall (but tall grass also invites snakes).
  6. coffeelady3

    coffeelady3 Froths Milk for Hard Cash

    Jun 26, 2008
    Tacoma, WA
    Check to see if your area has any native willow species. You can cut some stakes from the branches, plant them, and in 3 to 4 years they can grow fairly tall. If you plant some trees with them, when the trees do get taller you can cut the willow back...
  7. ...and even if you plant and have to wait, you could build a platform or shade area to get instant shelter.

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