Helping "tractored" lawn recover

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Doughpat, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Doughpat

    Doughpat Chirping

    Jul 29, 2008
    Hi all,

    I had to leave my 4' x 8' tractor in one place for 2 weeks while on vacation. My 4 hens managed to completely denude the area of any vegetation! I'd like to help the grass come back. Even in areas that aren't so heavily hit, I'm not sure that the grass is really appreciating the effect of the chickens. It might be in my head, but I think that the "tractor treatment" tends to favor dandilions over grass--perhaps they are better at regrowing rapidly?

    Any suggestions?

    I was also thinking of putting down some new grass seed on top of the muddy area...but I doubt it will do well this time of year (in Oregon). Not to mention, when my girls are free-ranging, they'd probably pick it right up.

  2. Mac in Wisco

    Mac in Wisco Antagonist

    May 25, 2007
    SW Wisconsin
    You could cut plugs from the good areas and install them in the bare areas. That will help it along.
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    I don't know what area of what country you're in (thus, what kind of grass we're talking about) or what you're soil is like.

    But, with that caveat, I will say that I've had TOTALLY barren patches (from leaving tractor in place for 3+ wks) regrow pretty well just on their own. It does take a while. But the grass eventually came back as good as new, actually slightly brighter green [​IMG] This is on 6+ inches of a very clayey loam, in somewhat leached/compacted state but not *too* bad.

    In my lawn the short-term effect of the chickens seems to hit dandelions and wild lettuce (which is very dandelion-like) worse than grass; but after a month or so of regrowth, I don't think it makes any lasting difference.

    I'd suggest just leaving the patch alone and preventing it from getting overly dry. You could mulch very lightly with WEED FREE finished compost or chopped straw if you have any; I wouldn't personally use any other mulch type for this. You could thinly overseed with a suitable lawn seed mix before mulching if you want. But unless your grass is MUCH less durable, with much less hardy/hearty root system, than mine is, I bet you that in a month or two you the problem will have fixed itself on its own anyhow [​IMG]

    I found the tractor to be rather hard on my lawn, fwiw. With just 2-3 chickens in a 4x7 tractor I really HAD to move it daily, and even then, it was pretty obvious where it'd been for the previous two weeks. It left sort of a trail of grazed down grass, blobs of poo, and scattered dusting holes across the lawn. I still use it in the summer but it is not my favorite object in the world, nor the lowest-work way of keeping chickens!

    Good luck, have fun,

  4. flakey chick

    flakey chick Songster

    May 3, 2007
    I use a kitty litter scoop to pick up the bigger poos. That stuff can really burn vegetation. But my one girl can really pooh.
  5. chookchick

    chookchick Songster

    Aug 18, 2008
    Olympia WA
    There's not much you can do right now in the PNW. Any grass seed you put down will not germinate and will be eaten by the birds. I'd wait until next spring, then overseed with grass in April/May, cover lightly with compost, and keep the chickens off till it is well established! By then the poo will also have broken down.

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