Grass/Lawn issues

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by kuntrychick, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Songster

    Jul 19, 2009
    The enclosed yard that my chickens & dog are in is in horrible shape!

    A little more than half of it has warm weather grass that is dormant, so it's brown & thin. The stolon things the grass grows on (I think it's Bermuda grass) are laying around everywhere...some of them kind of dangling. It looks like a bunch of hay stalks or something, but stuck in the ground. There's also some weeds..crabgrass & such some dead some green.

    Then, the other side of the yard is where their old coop was & an oak tree so it is bare except these clumps of grass or weeds (not sure what they are). Whatever this is is very thick, dense, dark green. The chickens won't eat it. I'm not sure if I need dig those up or what? & can they go in compost? I wasn't sure because of the roots on them...didn't want them to take root in the

    The soil is VERY compacted! I mean BAD!!!

    In the spot where their old coop was, I'm planning on planting the chickens their own garden this Spring, so since it was a warm day today, I got out there digging in it. I mean, it was about like trying to dig through cement! We have a clay like soil (but some small areas are kinda sandy). I used a shovel & a metal garden rake & dug & dug, turned soil over, broke up hard compacted pieces. Then, I put some of the leaves that I've had out there since about October that they've mulched up & pooped in a lot. I raked that into the soil real good. Then, I put a pile of whole oak leaves on top for them to mulch those up & to hopefully help prevent weeds from growing until planting time.

    Anyway, back to the grass or lack thereof. This yard (especially the bare side) gets LOTS of use/traffic. I'm always out there tending to the chickens, a big dog is always out there & I can see his "trails" where he mostly walks, & of course the chickens are out there. Some of the grass will come back in the spring in that area, but there are still some spots like around that tree & the dog areas that will stay bare. So, I want to plant some kind of grass there.

    I've never planted grass, so I don't know a lot about it. I know we'll probably have to do something to this compacted soil before we can even plant grass in it. I'll have to find a grass for my area for shady spots & such, but I don't know how to go about it with chickens around. I mean, won't they eat the grass seeds? Even if they're planted in the soil, I'm thinking they'll just scratch & dig it up. We don't want to put a lot of expense into it because we rent, but we've got to do something.

    Any suggestions?

  2. kuntrychick

    kuntrychick Songster

    Jul 19, 2009
    Oops...didn't mean to put this in Feeding & Watering your Flock! Sorry...mods feel free to move.

    But then again, grass is something they eat, so I guess it is a I just don't want them to eat it until it gets established. [​IMG]
  3. BlazeJester

    BlazeJester Songster

    Aug 2, 2011
    Midway, GA
    I also rent. I chose a spot for my run based on grass coverage and wind shielding. Not the best place for the run sun-wise, and also not the best place for my argued "future garden" for the property... but that's where it is. Some garden plants need shade, right?! [​IMG]

    I won't bother to move them or try to deal with the rest of the lawn. The clay was compacted long before we got here and it is not our responsibility to fix it up for the landlord.

    One thing to consider is that the grasses most people attempt to grow for their lawn are water-needy varities and non-native to the area. In Atlanta, the things that actually grow in the yards with this type of soil are clover, mosses, crabgrass and violets (demons!). Not lawn grasses. Not a chance. I honestly wouldn't bother unless your landlord is raising hell about it or if it's bothering you. The dust pit sucks, but that's what we get for not being blessed with topsoil.
  4. vfem

    vfem Yoga...The Chicken Pose

    Aug 4, 2008
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    My husband does lawn care... he says its probably centipide grass common in the south and its all brown right now. Its needs some aeration. You can rent shoes with spikes on the bottom and walk around it a lot and that will make a huge difference you'll notice in spring. Or my solution is to get DUCKS! My ducks aerate our soil CONSTANTLY. We let them free range the whole acre and they are AWESOME. We never have to aerate, just seed and lime and we're good to go each year. Love my duckies! [​IMG]

  5. Avonlea22

    Avonlea22 Jessamine Cottage

    Aug 27, 2011
    You might want to check out this site:

    shampoo on your "lawn" can help break up the compaction. Check out the above forum for more information, but do a search for soil conditioner. This site has helped me tremendously with my lawn renovation this past summer. I'm Avonlea22 over there, too. [​IMG]
  6. belly

    belly In the Brooder

    Feb 7, 2011
    Murray Utah
    I work for a property maintenance company and we used some jipsom as a soil conditioner on a customers lawn to help brake up the soil and it did wonders for the lawn and its safe for pets including chickens hope this helps.
  7. potluck

    potluck In the Brooder

    Jul 19, 2011
    If you are keeping the dog you will never get anything to grow on there trails - put a stepping stone every few feet and call it a path.

  8. Ole rooster

    Ole rooster Songster

    Jun 25, 2011
    Milner, Georgia
    If you do get ducks, best always wear a raincoat whenever you go out. If you should happen to step in that duck crap you will end up on your tail. [​IMG] For me, I wouldn't give a dime for 50 ducks. And a goose, all should be shot. Nasty nasty creatures.
  9. Tallulah Chicklet

    Tallulah Chicklet Chirping

    Dec 9, 2011
    New Haven, CT
    You might want to check out Peaceful Valley Farm. They have cover crops, green manures and forage mixes (even one specifically for chickens). I am trying out a couple to nourish the soil, feed the animals, overwinter the garden beds, etc. The Soil Builder is beautiful. Important: use the appropriate inoculant if one is called for. You would have to block off areas until they grow a bit. I'm sure PVF could help you find something that would suit your area and not be crazy expensive.

    The other cool thing is Bocking 14 Comfrey, which was developed in the 50's for animal forage. It has long roots that bring nutrients up from deep in the soil and can be eaten by animals or used as mulch. It can get a little invasive if it takes off, but probably no worse than that green plant under your tree. If you move, you can take some root pieces with you and replant.

    Leaves are just the best! I drive around the neighborhood after I get out of work at night and take the neighbors' bagged leaves. I use them in the coop and run (endless chicken entertainment scratching around in them), or chop them up with my mower and use them as mulch, put them in the garden beds to make new soil (throw in a handful of worms if needed to do the rest of the work), and make piles for outdoors dog beds. Free! Yahoo!

    Caveat: I live in Connecticut, I'm not sure how this would translate for you in Alabama, I would love to know.

  10. Spoof

    Spoof Songster 7 Years

    May 30, 2011
    Carencro, LA
    so since it was a warm day today, I got out there digging in it. I mean, it was about like trying to dig through cement!

    I wait until it rains to dig - otherwise it's a futile effort. If I'm impatient I leave the hose out there running for 10-15 minutes and that can really help.

    Since you are in the south, Ryegrass is a very fast sprouting and growing grass that they plant down here in the winter. It's surface seeded and seems to do really well as soon as it is rained in. Granted, you'll need to keep your critters from eating it long enough for it to grow.​

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