It has come to this: buy some fencing and enclose garden or stop letting the chickens out of the coop to roam the yard. I don't like either of the above choices.
Please share some tricks to keep chickens OUT of the garden.
Either get some fencing to pen the chickens up, it can be a very large run, (do NOT get rid of the grass like so many others do
) - Or you can get some cheap, short fencing like chicken wire and pen it around the gardens. I honestly find that my girls respect fence boundaries around gardens even if the fence is only 2-3 feet tall. If you really want to cheapen it, use plastic fence stakes too. The white ones that are about 4? feet tall. Just steak 'em in the ground and fasten the fence to them.
I ended up getting some used chain link fencing from a friend and used that around my garden. I needed over 150 feet, so it would have been very expensive to buy. Keeps the chickens out fine, now if I could figure out a way to keep the rabbits out!
I think the weeds keep them out of my garden... They love to go scratch in my herb garden by my back door so I hammered little scrap pieces of wood (slats and shims) into the ground, like 4 or 5 inch stakes, around the tender things. Its keeps them from damaging the plants. In my big garden, they dust bathe between the rows, but they aren't too interested in going out there once the plants get big. Also, my big garden is probably 150 feet from their coop so I think its because they are too lazy to walk that far.
I was very surprised. We built 3 raised beds in stair fashion. About 35 feet long by about 4 1/2 foot wide each step. We didn't fence it in and the girls never bothered it. I figured, they would get in there when we had just planted and scatter the seeds all about. They didn't. They would walk through it and every now and again, they would walk down one of the rows. But never pecked at any of the veggies or dug anything up. My only thought for you is to plant something specifically for them closer to their coop. So they will get sidetracked there and never make it or have the desire to go to your garden.
I met an elderly Austrian woman (ok...American, but of Austrian birth) and she said to use the chickens to help the garden...meaning, instead of chasing them away from it, build a run AROUND it.
So fenced in my garden-- 20 feet by 40 feet-- and then built a run around it that made a 4' perimeter run around the entire garden except for one side that houses the coop that is 10' wide.
What I get is an easy trip to the compost and garden for the poop, and a ring of chickens that stands between my garden and the bugs! I get very few non-flying bugs in the garden now, and those that do fly are the pollinators. The chickens gorge themselves on grasshoppers and I get an awesome garden-- problem solved!
No, they don't free-range, but who needs free-ranging when the food hops into the coop? They get plenty of exercise with a 20x40 garden and run, and, the coyotes don't eat them!