Run flooring in soft soil

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by edselpdx, Jan 29, 2009.

  1. edselpdx

    edselpdx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    I am planning to convert a child's playhouse into a coop and am getting that planned out well with footings, predator protection, ventilation, space planning etc thanks to the help from all I've read here (I lurk alot). I will be using 1/2" x 1/2" hardware cloth for ventilation openings and the bottom 3 feet of the run enclosure. I will have 3-5 hens--as far as the city's concerned, it's 3 of course. The run area will be about 10' x 15', with part of it under a big old fir tree.

    Here's the problem: The ground is quite soft in that area due to years of fir debris and duff. I'm concerned that if I just bury the outer edge of the fencing down a foot or so that possums and raccoons (and maybe my dachshund) will be able to burrow in too easily. No other predators to be worried about really as the whole yard is also fenced in from neighbors' properties. I'm considering putting down some fencing flat on the ground--buried maybe a couple of inches below the surface--starting about a foot outside the run enclosure and extending into the run area a couple of feet to ensure nothing burrows in. I would attach that to the regular vertical run fencing with wire or zipties. Hardware cloth is hella expensive, and trenching anything in for that size run will be much work, so advice needed. The area is quite dry, as the fir tree keeps most snow/rain out, so no snowload issues for the top.

    My questions:
    1. Is this even necessary, or will just running hardware cloth from the fence outwards at a 90 degr angle for 12 inches be adequate? 18"? The ground is *really* soft and gives under foot.
    2. What kind of fencing (how big of openings) should I use for this "flooring" barrier? Can I use chicken wire for part of this barrier (especially the part inside the run on the ground)?
    3. How wide should I go on either side of the vertical fence, given the very soft nature of the ground in this area.
    4. I also need to provide protection from above so no one decides to come down the fir tree into the run. Can I use chicken wire for that? Maybe with hardware cloth as a "collar" around the tree. What about using some sheet metal as a tree trunk collar so climbing down the trunk is not possible?

    I can't move the run to anywhere else in my urban yard really, since I'm dealing with city ordinances requiring 25' setback from homes.

    Look forward to your help! Thanks,
    Sonya
     
  2. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

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    Quote:I don't think you want to do that. Several reasons: 1) it will mess up your fir tree's roots and possibly have a serious lasting impact on the tree's health. 2) it won't really do much of any good anyhow -- unless you are wiring the whole floor of the run (which I am not a fan of anyhow) a predator will just push the wire up and/or continue digging under it til it reaches blue sky, you know?

    What you want is wire flat on the ground (well pinned down, or lightly buried) extending OUT from the run fence, preferably 2-3'. It does not have to be hardware cloth unless you are trying to prevent weasels or rats, and frankly it is debatable how well it will deter weasels and rats will get in no matter what anyhow. 1x1 or 2x4 mesh in a heavy gauge is just fine, and cheaper too [​IMG]

    1. Is this even necessary, or will just running hardware cloth from the fence outwards at a 90 degr angle for 12 inches be adequate? 18"?

    See above re: most of that, but you really want more than a foot. And only extending outwards, not inwards too.

    The ground is *really* soft and gives under foot.

    This isn't *wet*, is it? Just a big fluffy organic pillow? (just checking)

    If you are concerned, go more like 4' out from the fence with your apron, and make sure it is well weighted down (big rocks, chunks of broken concrete, cinderblocks, pavers, whatever).

    4. I also need to provide protection from above so no one decides to come down the fir tree into the run. Can I use chicken wire for that? Maybe with hardware cloth as a "collar" around the tree. What about using some sheet metal as a tree trunk collar so climbing down the trunk is not possible?

    Be aware that most raccoons can rip apart most chickenwire pretty easily. If you are really serious and paranoid about this, you will want to go to something heavier like 2x4 mesh. OTOH if you are shutting the chickens into the coop from dusk to dawn, the risk is nonzero but certainly *lessened*, and it becomes a matter of your personal feelings about the risk-cost tradeoff.

    Good luck, have fun,

    Pat​
     
  3. edselpdx

    edselpdx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Nov 10, 2008
    Portland, OR
    Thank you Pat for your experience, recommendations, and quick response! Very helpful. I will plan on buying some 3' welded wire fence with larger holes just to discourage coons, possums and dachsunds from digging in, and weight it/peg it down, as well as attaching it to the vertical fence with zipties or the like to keep anyone from getting through the crack between the fence and the horizontal.

    Quote:No the ground isn't wet, in fact it's very dry, and I can't get much to grow there... just fluffy dry soft organic evergreen "duff" under a 70' Doug fir that's limbed up about only 8-10 feet off the ground. It's a part of the yard that's always been much underutilized with not enough water for much in the way of garden/decorative plants except a few sword ferns which will grow anywhere up here. The hens will also have some sunnier parts of the yard within their run, but about half will be in this dry, sheltered fir tree shade.

    I'll have to do some more pondering on the overhead protection. Chicks will be locked up in a secure coop at night, so what does anyone think about just a sheet metal collar and chicken wire over the top with a big ol' fir tree sticking through it. I also admired Wayne's wire enclsoure in this thread https://www.backyardchickens.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=126537 but picture a big fir tree sticking through the middle.

    Sonya
     
  4. chookchick

    chookchick Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Good for you for thinking of all this before it was too late! Yeah, everything that Pat said, and chicken wire deteriorates rapidly when in contact with soil. I would skip the sheet metal collar (don't want that fat old coon sliding into the run), wire mesh going up to the tree and snugged around it should be fine. If you want to attach anything to the tree, use stainless steel screws and be careful not to girdle the tree.
     
  5. bills

    bills Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Chicken wire over the run should be fine, if, like you say, you lock the chickens up at night in a coop. It should give adequate day time protection, from what predators may be around, hawks, ravens, eagles, and neighborhood cats. I have a large 20X40 outside run, and haven't put any cover over it, even though we have many eagles around. Been a year so far, with no attacks. Perhaps you don't even need to bother with a cover.

    With a big tree overhead such as you'll have, chances are even less that a large bird of prey would swoop in. They like a fairly open flight path, in and out.
     
  6. edselpdx

    edselpdx Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Portland, OR
    Quote:Thanks. I am sometimes accused of OVERplanning things, but I like to think of it as being careful;). This site has been very helpful to me in my OCD-ish coop planning. Tree won't be harmed (I love that tree.)

    I did think of the issue of the collar also keeping critters like squirrels IN if they manage to get in and want out. Probably less than ideal.

    Quote:I'm not so worried about hawks, but am worried about the coons and I suppose cats. And i occasionally see the coons out in daylight, esp in summer when our days are soooo long. I'll continue to ponder the overhead protection as I start the building soon.

    Sonya
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009

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