Suggestions for bushes/trees in run

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by littlelemon, Feb 20, 2008.

  1. littlelemon

    littlelemon Songster

    Mar 15, 2007
    Hi Everyone,

    My chickens free range in the winter, but when I start to plant my garden they go back in the run. My run is huge, it's basically a big fenced yard, it doesn't get muddy, there is plenty of grass and weeds. However, there is absolutely no shade for them. I would like to plant some foliage for them to be able hide under if needed, and also for them to get some shade so they don't just sit in the coop all day when it is hot and sunny.
    I am not a plant expert. What kinds of brush and bushes do your chickens like? I will have to plant something that is already relatively big so the chickens don't destroy it, so I will probably have to invest a little $ in this.
    I was thinking that some forsythia bushes along one side of the run would be nice-but it would take a couple of years for them to really spread out and provide adequate shade.
    What do you all recommend?
  2. hypnofrogstevie

    hypnofrogstevie chick magnet

    Jul 12, 2007
    Newton NJ

    I learned my garden skills from my grandfather at age 5 so hopefully i can help. for shelter you can use blackberry bushes, blueberry bushes and raspeberry bushes. the throns will keep most predators away and help provide treats for your birds. They will also help with flying predators such as hawks
  3. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    Personally I'd just snoop around all the local garden centers this spring and see what fast-growing bushes are available in largish sizes for goodish prices, and go with that [​IMG] (Leaving out anything whose price is low because it's been crappily cared for of course).

    You want something that can 'take a joke' -- lilacs, bridlewreath spirea (the big vanhouttei ones), amur maple, that sort of thing, not something delicate and fussy. There are lots of possibilities. If you want something bigger, chokecherries and birches and willows (the latter only if if you're not near buried waterlines, septic system or well) grow as fast as any trees can be expected to.

    In the meantime, while more permanent woody stuff is growing up, you could plant 'islands' of tall annuals that would give chickens cover. The classic things are tall sunflowers, corn, Jerusalem artichokes (but the latter is perennial and hard to get rid of) - obviously you have to keep the chickens off 'em til the plants are well up and big enough to be chickenproof.

    Or (or perhaps 'and'), you could make temporary nonliving hideaways for them. What about a big wide teepee made of branches stuck in the ground and tied together at the top? It would give them somewhere to scram to in case of hawks, and a *little* shade. Dunno whether or not you could grow anything over it that the chickens wouldn't damage, perhaps others will have ideas. Morning glories, maybe? Beans and peas I think the chickens would scratch the roots up too much. A sloped trellis of cucumbers or summer squash?

    In the meantime you can always rig up a tarp or buy a picnic table or something like that, for shade.

    Good luck,

  4. hypnofrogstevie

    hypnofrogstevie chick magnet

    Jul 12, 2007
    Newton NJ
    Quote:you mean like wallieworld plants lol
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 20, 2008
  5. BearSwampChick

    BearSwampChick Chicken Sensei

    Jan 10, 2008
    Marysville, OH
    patanchickens, I love the stick tepee idea! It would be a great project for my grandsons who are 6 and 5. They'll love it!
  6. raindrop

    raindrop Songster

    Feb 10, 2008
    Western Oregon
    My parents chicken yard has bamboo planted outside the run on the edge- but be careful with that stuff. Spreads like crazy. The chickens LOVE it, they feel very safe. They also have a grape plant trained along one part of the fence.
    I have a juniper bush, it is very sturdy, good shade, and grows quickly.
    I love the teepee idea too- will start that this spring while the new chicks are little and can't scratch. I think hops would be a good choice, they grow quickly and very tall.
  7. Kaneke

    Kaneke Songster

    blackberries spread like crazy too -- major weed in the Northwest ... roots can go straight down through hardpan, I swear !

    I'd be tempted to suggest mugho pines .. often cheap, seem to be sturdy, and difficult for chickens to "peck to death"; also they wills tay fairly compact as they grow, not necessarily true of "fast growers"

  8. bills

    bills Songster

    Jan 4, 2008
    vancouver island
    Why not plant a duel purpose tree. A nice apple, or pear tree would serve two purposes! You may need to net around the base of it so the chickens don't expose the roots, or peck at the young trunk. The tree would get plenty of fertilizer from the chicken poop, so it would probably do quite well.[​IMG]
  9. SunsetChickens

    SunsetChickens In the Brooder

    Feb 1, 2008
    Menlo Park, CA
    Quote:We had a pre-existing mugho pine, and we built our coop around it. The chickens do nibble at the needles from time to time (?), but we haven't noticed any piney smell in the eggs, and they don't really seem to enjoy eating the needles. They do like to perch in it, though:

    Here they are when they were just babies:

    Our chickens' yard is covered with translucent corrugated plastic, and the pine has managed to stay alive underneath it (with us occasionally hosing it off) for six months now! (I wouldn't count on that, though.)
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2008
  10. Our chickens' yard is covered with translucent corrugated plastic, and the pine has managed to stay alive underneath it (with us occasionally hosing it off) for six months now! (I wouldn't count on that, though.)[/quote

    keep me updated on how well this works if you would. I planted 2 white pines in our run this fall. placed nice rock gardens around them to keep the chickens and ducks from digging up the roots. But I was planning on replacing the wire cover with the corragated plastic but I haven't heard of anyone who did it with plants in the run [​IMG].

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: