The girls have destroyed the yard; time to landscape...any ideas?

monteverde

In the Brooder
7 Years
Aug 16, 2012
10
1
24
My flock of six has had a little over a year to destroy my backyard (which wasn't in such great shape to begin with) and they've done an awesome job! I am now the scourge of the neighborhood and I'm starting to worry about what the neighbors are thinking.

I've never been much of a gardener and for good reason; I'm not very good at growing plants. Add to my personal shortcoming the fact that I live in semi-arid northern Colorado, where not much grows without extreme care and attention, and I'm in trouble. I've combed the internet and books for ideas but all I can find are ideas for lush climates like California or the Midwest (things actually grow in these places without much help); there's not enough water in the Colorado River to make those ideas work for my climate.

So, I'm wondering if there are any other CO chicken keepers out there that might have some chicken-friendly, easy-to-grow, xeric landscape ideas, or know of places to find them. I'm particularly looking for plants that will provide food, shelter/safety from predators and, most of all, keep my girls from hopping into the neighbors' yards for mini-vacations

Thanks so much, in advance, and may the grass stay greener on your side of the fence!!
 

WoodlandWoman

Crowing
12 Years
May 8, 2007
5,717
78
283
Wisconsin
You might want to check out the threads on growing fodder. They're mainly about growing wheat or other grasses as a fresh green feed, but that's a type of fodder. That could satisfy some of your chickens need for fresh green feed, instead of relying on only your yard. If I don't supply wheat grass, greened up sprouts or some other type of green feed during the winter months, my chickens act like they are starved for green grass in the spring. That's why I started feeding them these foods originally. It might take some of the pressure off your yard.

You can also grow some dark leafy greens or other foods in pots/garden flats or in a protected area, that they only have limited access to when you choose.

If they're doing a lot of damage to your yard by scratching, there's also a couple of things you can do. I like to leave areas with leaf litter for the chickens to scratch in. These areas have more insects, grubs and worms in the moister soil underneath. You could possibly make an area like that for them. If your climate is so dry that mulch makes no difference, just try making a mulched area and toss a little whole grain in it. I'd use a finer mulch, rather than a big, chunky mulch, something like a shredded wood or fine chunks. They also love scratching in fresh sand and dust bathing in it. You can make a little area like that for them.

To get any larger plants started, like shrubs or trees that might grow in your area, you can get a roll of 2x4 fencing wire and make a circle around it, to protect it until it gets larger.

You could put up a little area of shade cloth for them, temporarily. Or grow some annual vines to give them more shade. Just protect the base of the plants with a little wire. I use some extra hardware cloth around the base of my arbors, as a little fence, to keep them from scratching and digging things up, early in the season.

I hope other people from your area can give you some suggestions for specific plants that will work for you.
 

monteverde

In the Brooder
7 Years
Aug 16, 2012
10
1
24
Hi 1MuttsFan! Thanks for your input.

I know this seems like an impossible task but, I'm determined to find a way that chickens and landscaping can coexist on some level. Wish me luck!
 

Clackclack

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 20, 2013
118
8
71
Hi,

we have a garden full of plants and the chickens have done no noticable damage. I suppose it's a question of balance between how many chickens are roaming and how many plants there are. One thing that has helped has been to collect lawn clippings and leaf bags (perhaps from neighbours, if you know they don't use pesticides) and just dump them out in a pile. That way the chickens will have something to play with and leave your plants alone most of the time.

Good luck!

Clackclack
 

monteverde

In the Brooder
7 Years
Aug 16, 2012
10
1
24
Yes, Clackclack, I knew it had to be possible! Challenging but possible. I plan to have very little, if any, turf grass in the yard so getting clippings from a neighbor is a great idea. :)

Thanks!
 

Clackclack

Chirping
6 Years
Apr 20, 2013
118
8
71
Monteverde,

also, if you have any neighbours who are vegetable gardeners, try to lay your hands on their spent vegetable plants. If you give your chickens an alternative to ornamental greens in the form of an old broccoli plant full of aphids that your neighbour just tore out, they will definitely prefer this to finding their own leaves.

Clackclack
 

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