Plants/vine to shade run ?


Oct 13, 2008
3 chickens, BR, Americana and PR in 3.5x5 house with 12x12 run. We have no shade. This summer I used shade cloth. It seems OK, but does not give the cool shade found under a bush a big tree. I have been researching vines, looking for a vine that is deciduous so we will have winter sun and not too woody so it won't tear up the 1/2" hardware cloth run. Researched poisonous and found varying answers on lists. Has anyone used coral vine? Can Pampas grass cut a chicken? It would have such nice drooping shade. I would really appreciate Any suggestions.
Thanks to all you folks out there.
There are numerous varieties of grasses that get anywhere from 3 to 7 feet tall with a year. Most are insect resistant and very easy to grow. I have some in my yard and don't worry about my hens getting hurt from them, they're quite soft. Talk to your local nursery and ask for any types that are indigenous to your area. Many can be planted in the fall, and may be marked down for end-of-season clearance. Fountain and ornamental grasses will not cause any damage to your coop like an ivy might.
I would advise against pampas grass. When it gets large, the foliage is razor sharp. We had a huge one in the front yard of a house once. We had to use a truck and wench to remove it and even with gloves on we got cut up on our arms. Plus, when we took it to the dump it had to be weighed and it was almost a ton!

There has to be a better option for you.

There are less aggressive grasses out there that are clumping. Make sure they are for your zone and a clumping grass. Arboretum or display gardens at nurseries are a great place and some zoo's do put plant markers around. Go to a reputable nursery not a parking lot nursery or a big box lumber company nursery they may not have knowledgable staff.

Vines you would need to check out if OK with Chickens but here are a few that would provide shade

Hops Vine
Grape Vines

You need to be aware that most perennial vines get thick stems which over time get heavy. How do you plan on supporting them. There are annual vines but my chickens think they are a salad I have planted for them and eat the Morning Glory and Scarlet Runner Bean vines. Good Luck
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YOu can plant horseradish in the pen and the leaves will make a lot of shade. Chicken manure will not kill it either.
a couple years ago I planted morning glories near the outside fence of my chicken run and they grew quickly and HUGE and covered the top nicely. Although I didn't have chickens at the time or a roof attached yet they did look really nice but drooped way into the pen. (I use a 6X14 dog run for their coop). I roofed it with chicken wire this year and attemted that again but it got too hot too fast (I'm in Central Texas) so they never took off this year. They do die back in the winter and the vines themselves are not that thick or heavy so that may be an option. I think I've read though they may not be good for chickens so might want to check that out first.
You could always plant birdhouse gourds around your pen and reap the benefits of the gourds at the end of the season. They climb well and have huge leaves. The gourds hang down and have a hard skin that the birds will not be able to penetrate.
We planted blackberry vines. It grows up over the top of the run and the berries quite often hang down through the holes of the covered yard. Our flock love the leaves. It provides great shade and allows still for plenty of ventilation.

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