Suburbia Backyard Chickens?


11 Years
Mar 28, 2008
West Michigan
Hi, I'm thinking of having a few (2) layers in our backyard. I live in Michigan, just inside city limits, but have about 1/3 acre fenced in backyard. I plan on building a coop with a smaller run, but wanted to free range the chickens during most days. My reasons for doing this were for fun, for my kids, for pest control and for fertilizer. I have a lot of perennials in borders that I mulch. I was hoping the chickens would eat bugs off them, but I heard they might just eat the whole flower/plant. I'm not ok with that! I've worked hard on these flowers! I'm also wondering if 2 chickens will destroy my yard. We have quite a bit of grass, and I'd like to keep it that way. Someone suggested I only let the chickens out when I'm there and supervise them, but is this realistic? I'd so appreciate feedback on this, thanks!


Premium Feather Member
12 Years
May 7, 2007
Forks, Virginia
It would be nice if they did just eat the bugs. Honestly 2 chickens can do some serious work on a garden and leave you with nubs and dirt exactly were you don't want it.


12 Years
Jan 3, 2008
I have a small yard (Less than 1/3 of an acre) and the last year I have kept 2 RIR which free ranged almost exclusively.

They ate my lawn, roses, peach tree, jasmine, and others, but the damage is unnoticeable. I wouldn't even know it except that I have seen them do it.
The only thing they have damaged is in one corner they dug up some irises while they were dormant for a dust bath. It wasn't the whole bed, just a small bit of it. Today I planted some seeds, and they could care less, other than the bugs I dug up.

They will kick dirt onto hard scapes though.

Hope that was helpful.
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In the Brooder
12 Years
Oct 3, 2007
Pflugerville, TX
I have 10 in my backyard that is about the same size as yours. I did have plants in pots, but after they ate the plants, they dug out the dirt and starting nesting in the pots.
The only thing they have not touched is the rose bushes ... guess they don't like the thorns. They do a good job of fertilizing the yard and eating the grass. They do scratch at the ground a lot, so when the leaves fall they make lots of little piles for me. They love areas that are just dirt. I have an area where I pulled out the grass with the intention of putting in a flower bed, but as soon as the grass was gone, it became their dirt bath playground.

I've accepted that I won't have flowers in the backyard. If you want to try having the chickens and the flowers, you can try putting up chicken wire around the flower beds. Good luck and have fun with the chickens!


12 Years
Apr 13, 2007
I would seriously consider Bantams (miniature) chickens. They come in most of the colors and breeds, and are 1/4-1/3 the size of standard chickens---less food, less poop, less distruction. We have 3 on a small tract-style-McMansion-sized lot (sorry, that gives you a good picture in your head, though, doesn't it?) and we have more babies in the brooder... we will end up with 10 total. We have had the 3 for a year now and have noticed only problems with them digging into the mulch and pitching it into the lawn in their dust bathing marathon sessions. (I just rake it back into the borders, to be pitched out soon again!)

They have not eaten plants (unless you count low hanging grapes-- those are like gold to them--- on the grapevines), but are more focused on the dirt and mulch and digging for bugs and worms. Good luck on whatever you decide!


One Earth!
12 Years
Jun 18, 2007
I live right outside of town our backyard is about 3/4 of an acre. I have Five Bantam hens that I let out whenever I feel like it, but only when I am home. If I were you I would seriously consider bantams. I will eventually have around 7 or 8 hens. They love to go into the garden, but never bother with eating the plants or anything. They are more interested in scratching around in the straw pathways looking for bugs and other stuff to eat.

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