Recently, I decided to embark on the adventure of planning out a suburban backyard coop, and I think some input from the seasoned experts of this forum would be extremely helpful. The first dilemma I face is location. This is my original option: When I begun to consider making a coop/run area, this was what came to mind at first. I figure with a 4x4 raised coop it should be sufficient for 2-4 standard sized hens, maybe even 6 bantams. This area of my yard is typically in partial sunlight and I live in Northern NJ, so during the summers we often have heat waves of 90+. I'd be a bit concerned about ventilation. It's already raised and "sectored off," so that's a plus, but something tells me that being the animal-obsessed person I am, I'll soon end up wanting a few more. That's when I thought about... Option 2: This area is very underused as it is so I wouldn't be losing any prime area, while the other option is used as a vegetable garden. It's also much bigger, roughly 11x9 with the addition of the little angular entry way I drew in, so figure 105+ sqft, when factoring in the raised coop. Dislodging the pavers that are there now shouldn't take more than an hour. The other awesome part of this option is that it is always shaded, no matter what time of day, which is a blessing during the warmer months, but when winter rolls around, snow removal may be a little tedious as it falls off the tree branches and leaves. Also, will the hens mind the tree in the middle? The coop that I very roughly sketched is around 32 sqft, so using the 4/10 rule, I estimate I should be able to comfortably house 8 hens, perhaps 12 bantams. Still unsure on that one, does anyone know of any cold-hearty, moderately laying bantams? The other issue is free ranging. I have a dog (not sure how she'll react) and there are many gaps under fences and little escape routes so it would be a headache to make everything safe and secure. On the other hand, I think a daily supervised free run for about half an hour wouldn't be an issue. Do you think sand be an adequate flooring for the run? Any other materials that I could use? Also, if I do end up going with a vinyl/linoleum/glasboard flooring, what cleaning products are safe to use? If you're still reading my ramblings, I thank you for your time and welcome any input.