Incredibly rocky soil, I need advice for the run!

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Steigler24, Feb 17, 2017.

  1. Steigler24

    Steigler24 Out Of The Brooder

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    Alright guys, last year I managed to put in a small 6x8ish run but it nearly killed me. Ha. My husband is more of a computer guy and less handyman so I was pretty much on my own. We live in southwest Connecticut and have an acre and a half of mostly wooded land and rocky hill. When we bought the house a few years ago there was a rotting shed next to our driveway on a small flat area- this area is where we ended up putting our chicken coop after we tore down the shed. The grassy flat area is about 8 feet deep and probably 40 feet wide but is boarded by the paved driveway in the front and by a rock wall and hill in back and rock walls on the side.

    [​IMG]
    This is the area during construction.

    Now we managed to complete the run you see and right now have a tarp over the top to keep the snow/rain off. I originally wasn't too concerned with the size because we were free ranging our hens most of the day and with the combined coop and run space even when locked up the hens had their 10sq feet each. But it's not enough. We've got hawks scoping the babes out so they've been locked up most of the winter and they seem incredibly bored. Plus the rooster is making them barebacked and there just isn't room for them to run away from him. I need to at least double the length of the run this summer.

    My problem is that the soil we have in this area is incredibly rocky. I had to trench it by hand because we were told a rented trench machine couldn't handle the rocks. I also had to dig our a much larger area than just the trench due to the size of some of the rocks we uncovered (of course they were where posts had to go!) Along the back wall of the run we ended up doing an apron of hardware cloth in a shallow 6inch trench because I just couldn't dig any more. That has worked so far but do you guys recommend continuing in this way and just doing an apron around the new build? Or do I need to look into some big digging equipment to get us a trench? Of course I don't want a major expense. I've been doing everything myself to keep the cost down but I know my limits... but I want to keep things predator proof so just laying the walls on the ground isn't good enough for me.

    Has anyone else overcome this issue? Any tips for installing posts and run walls with rocky soil?
     
  2. Leigti

    Leigti Chillin' With My Peeps

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    My soil is basically all rock and a tiny bit of dirt. So I know what you mean when you talk about rocky soil :) The good news is those rocks will also slow down predators trying to dig in. I would do a 2 foot wide apron with hardware cloth all the way around, you can just dig down a little bit then put a bunch of rocks on top of it. No need to make a big trench. Use the rocks to your advantage.
     
  3. Merrymouse

    Merrymouse Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    I had the same problem. It was incredibly frustrating. Im still in the build process so I have not started my hardware cloth yet but I plan to just lay it on the ground and cover with soil, rocks and when the weather is better some grass seed. I will not be able to dig down the 2 feet that most recommend. Good luck.
     
  4. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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    @Merrymouse ...That will work just fine.....burying an apron 2 feet deep is a total waste of energy.
    You may need to pin it down at the corners at first...with landscape staples or just bricks or boards until the grass grows up and holds it in place.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2017
  5. LeannS

    LeannS Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aviary netting is cheap on the amazon, 50 square feet for around $59. with all those trees ,you could use as posts and can cut the netting any way you wish. You would want to put your fowl in at night anyway.
     
  6. Merrymouse

    Merrymouse Chillin' With My Peeps Premium Member

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    Thanks for the reassurance @aart Good idea to secure it in the corners or I could see alot of tripping and ripped up shins. That stuff is sharp[​IMG]
     
  7. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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  8. lutherpug

    lutherpug Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Our soil is all clay and rocks, it is a mess.

    We had to build a small retaining wall prior to building our coop as we had no remotely level land to work with. Hindsight being 20/20 I wouldn't have done it this way but that's another story. Anyway, since the wall needed to hold back several tons of dirt the posts needed to be set in concrete at least 24" down. We rented an auger from HD and got the job done. It isn't hard to use. It's a 2 person job but you can do it, I promise. We hadn't used an auger before or worked with concrete and didn't have any issues with either.

    Good luck!
     
  9. Calichicken2015

    Calichicken2015 Chillin' With My Peeps

    Will an apron still work if grass does not grow naturally in the area? We are all dirt and rocky with only seasonal wild grass, so grass would never grow in to anchor the apron down.
     
  10. aart

    aart Chicken Juggler! Premium Member

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