Landscaping for chickens


12 Years
Jul 7, 2007
West Michigan
Does anybody have ideas of what kind of stuff (plants and otherwise) to put in my backyard to provide hiding spots for my girls? They free range on occasion, and I'm concerned that they don't have enough places to duck out of danger, if need be. We have a very large yard, but most of it is wide open.
Thanks Steve. I'll make sure to double-check for toxicity. But what about what grows fast, looks good, and makes a good hiding place?

I'm completely clueless when it comes to landscaping. I was also wondering if there's some cute type of yard ornament (non-living) that I should consider.
You are welcome. I dont know about what would grow fast that would be fine for chickens but I can help with lawn ornaments. We have st. Francis in our yard who looks over the animals that have passed away and looks over the chickens who are out and about the yard. We also use those hanging basket stakes to hang treats for the chickens. If you have a marshalls they might have some fake outdoor chicken decorations. We have a metal rooster and a beutiful 2 FT glass rooster who lost a couple of feathers

I dont see trumpet flowers/ cross vine/hummingbird vine on the list. Its fast growing but invasive. Does anyone know if its toxic to chickens?
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If you want something that will provide year-round cover, i.e. shrubs and trees, the best thing to do IMHO is first pick up a couple good shrub-and-tree gardening books, preferably ones that concentrate on your region. Read them to get a good sense of what will and will not likely be hardy in your yard (in terms of sun/shade, water needs, soil type requirements, winter coldness). Then go to all the local nurseries you can find, and see what they're selling for what price at what size. Pick the ones that seem like the best deal

The reason I say this is because there are hardly any woody plants that are what you might call *fast* growing (like, more than 1-2 feet per year maximum) and the few that ARE fast-growing will generally get too big too fast and quickly become PROBLEMS. (Poplars, aspen, tree-sized willows, and Leyland cypress [which is probalby not hardy in your zone anyhow]). So your best bet is to buy healthy affordable plants that are already decent size. You can't predict which spp these will be. Sometimes a nursery just happens to have a bunch of rather large good-looking plants of some particular species that they wanna get rid of and have priced down. Have to look around.

Avoid buying trees/shrubs from places like Walmart or Home Depot unless you REALLY know what you're looking at, plant health wise (including roots). Trees/shrubs from big box stores like that have often been seriously damaged by poor shipping and poor, or non, watering, and may never grow well for you.

In Western Michigan, the most likely spp might include lilacs, ninebark (the big ones like Darts Gold and Diabolo, not the new smaller cultivars), maybe forsythia, schubert or amur chokecherry, the *small* willows (coyote willow etc - NOT corkscrew or dappled [Hakura-nishiki] which don't grow so much), bridalwreath [vanhouttei] spirea although it isn't the fastest grower, and possibly birch but I'm concerned that chcikens scratching around birch roots would be awfully hard on the tree. There are plenty others, of course, as well.

In the meantime, while woody plants are growing in and/or annuals are growing up, you might need to make nonliving shelters like trellises, teepees, a table for chickens to hide under, etc.

Have fun,

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When I let my girls out they live under the Azalea bushes. and they really did not eat them until the winter came and all that was green went away except these bushes, now the bottom third is bare, but not for long!

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