Raising Backyard Chickens in Suburbia

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eglu egcube chicken coop omlet

About a month ago I was talking about wanting to plant some sort of garden in front of the chicken coop. Someone suggested I place a few boards at the base of the coop to keep the hens from digging away at the roots of whatever I planted in front of it.

I don’t know about you, but I think the wire fencing would make a PERFECT trellis for Sweet Pea flowers and Sugar Snap Peas.

cutting fence boards

So when I asked the Handsome Husband to stop by Home Depot on his way home from work yesterday to pick me up some wood for my project, he was super excited.

backyard chicken coop

But once I got a few boards up {and the HH went inside} I stopped.

omlet chicken coop eglu eggcube

I’m worried it’s going to look like a bit of a junk yard with 18″ of fence boards around the base of the chicken coop.

What do you think?

Do you think the chicken run will look fine once I get all the boards stained, fill the beds with dirt, and add a rock border? Or should I just scrap the idea and figure something else out?

Help!

~Mavis

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Comments

  1. I don’t think it will look bad, but you won’t be able to see your chickens!

  2. Go for it!

  3. Paint the wood!

  4. it would be nice if I read everything through before frantically posting – yes I think it will look great when it is all done!

  5. Random Person Named Melissa says:

    How about painting the boards Barn Red? Maybe even painting flowers and chickens on them? I love murals if they’re done right. How about making them look like a stone wall?

  6. I think it’ll look great! Curious to see what color you’ll paint it. I think Barn Red like Melissa said would be nice.

  7. My chickens can jump. I often weave kale and collards through their fence at knee hight so they can peck at them and jump for their treats.

    I think if you grow yummy treats on your chicken fence they would love it! But you won’t get to eat it…they will.

  8. Our chickens jump, too. I’ve seen them jump a couple feet into the air to get a raspberry. I’m worried this might become more of a headache than it’s worth. It might make think unkind thoughts about your birds- like “stew” and “fried” :-) .

  9. Aren’t you supposed to put boards flat on the ground inside the coop ?
    “to keep the hens from digging away at the roots”

    I don’t understand how putting boards up the side of the coop
    prevents the hens from scratching the roots of whatever you plant.

  10. I think if you painted the boards it would look fine. The roots of an annual aren’t gonna go all over and will take the path of least resistance in my experience which is the new dirt in the bed.

    However, will it insight your OCD to not be able to just look out and see the girls in their coop because the boards will block your view?

  11. I think the boards will look nice, especially with a coat of paint.

  12. Our chickens jump too – over the four foot fence – with their wings clipped. Yours seem more well behaved than ours, but wouldn’t you miss seeing them running about if you block the bottom with boards?

  13. Paint them barn red–add a topiary!

  14. DON’T PLANT YOUR PEAS THERE! It is not the roots you have to worry about. I am here to tell you from sad, sad experience that the chickens will strain and jump to get at the leaves and steams and pea pods. When they get an edge, they will pull and pull and either break the stem or pull the vine into the pen and eat it bare. I lost half my crop to my three chickens this last summer. Anybody who says to go for it does not have any experience with chickens. (Even my dog ended up getting in on the act when he saw the chickens eating something he didn’t have.)

  15. I think it looks fine, but I also think you’ll be astounded as to how high a chicken can/will jump in order to eat something yummy!

  16. I think you will be happier if you plant something free-standing that you & the chickens can share, each on her own side. They will eat anything that they can reach through the fence.

    I like the look of the boards to neaten the appearance of the pen but maybe 2 boards high instead of three? That will hide the ‘ugly’ part of chicken raising but still allow you to keep a pretty good eye on your little ladies when they are in the pen.

    Just my ocd way of thinking :)

  17. Personally, I like the cleaner look of no boards. I have the same fence wire you have, which gives them room to stick their curious little heads through to grab whatever looks interesting on the other side.

    To stop the grabbing, I secured square metal mesh (used many times on rabbit runs/cages) around the base on the outside of the fence. This keeps them from reaching through from the ground up to 3 feet high, plus, nothing obstructs my view of them if anything may be amiss.

    This way I can plant anything short right up to their fence safely. I would not however plant anything tall or on the fence, even if it may be something you don’t mind them eating, as this teaches them bad habits.

  18. i firstly want to say that i love the response that you have gotten. amazing and so darn helpful.
    i understand the fencing in of the chickens but i believe you may need to do some curving in of the top of the wire to avoid them jumping out when they decide they really want out.
    also – i think i would put an upright board, buried a few inches into the ground, on the inside of the fence to see how that works. or perhaps lay a row of cap stone along the ground along the fence line. and just know that the chickens are do a lot of eating of your plants. they will enjoy this gourmet food life.
    i am very anxious to see how you do this and how it all comes out.
    good luck.

  19. I think the boards look like you are trying to hide something. Also agree that the board should probably be a flat border to prevent the scratching. If you plant stuff on your fence that has tiny tendrils that wrap around the wire to support themselves, then your OCD will really kick in when you go to remove the plants as they will resist being pulled and your fence will start to look all wonky and the tiny curly-Qs of dried plant material will be stuck behind and you will spend hours trying to clean it off. Let the chickens keep their view.

  20. We had gourds growing up our chicken run and it was fine. Maybe they ate some but enough survived to provide a green “wall” and some shade for them. I think your border will look fine once it’s painted & planted. Carry on! :)

  21. I think it looks better!

  22. I think the boards would look fine painted or stained a dark brown to match the rest of your pen. I also think that placing a board around the top of your pen would streamline and add symmetry to the top and bottom of pen (paint/stain same dark brown color). However, one person commented about curving the top wire of your pen to prevent chickens from flying out of the pen, and adding wood to the top might encourage this too? Not sure there.

    To prevent digging into roots of plants, you may want to bury some wire in the ground about 8-12″ deep. We actually did this to prevent predators from getting in to the chicken pen. It’s invisible, so no aesthetic issues there.

    As far as plant suggestions, I would plant something tall toward the wire, like hollyhocks or yarrow. Then maybe install an herb garden in front of that.

  23. Realizing I am late to post, but, I had read in a chicken garden book that sweet peas though pretty are poisonous to chickens, so for the future, I would avoid those. You could try something else like amaranth or golden hops or something though! I’m starting to organize my thoughts about what to plant around my chicken yard and what I think I will be moving come spring.

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