How To Keep Chickens Out Of The Garden: 9 Effective Ways

Chickens are often brave, ‘plucky’ creatures, with a lot of personality and can be fun to watch. 

Unfortunately, these traits also mean that given half a chance, they will get into the areas of your garden that you definitely don’t want them in, and cause all kinds of mayhem and destruction.

You may keep chickens yourself, or perhaps your neighbors have got chickens. If they are becoming a problem, it’s time to fix it before these clever birds get too comfortable.

The good news is that you can keep chickens out of your yard (or specific places in your yard) without too much effort, but you need to be consistent.

Let’s take a look at everything you should know.

What Brings Chickens To Your Yard?

In order to deter chickens from your garden, it’s important to know what attracts them in the first place. 

If you can limit the attraction of your yard, you’re halfway there to stopping chickens from roaming and destroying your yard.

Compost, Soil, And Bugs

Nothing attracts chickens more than a good search for some food, including digging around in soil and compost to find some tasty snacks, or picking up the odd bug off the floor.

In some ways, this is a great thing, as it means there are fewer slugs and snails in your garden, keeping the likes of dahlias and hostas safe, along with many other plants. It also means you don’t have to resort to chemical forms of pest control.

But there is a point when chickens start doing more harm than good, and maybe it’s time to keep them to a certain area of the garden, where you won’t mind them eating bugs or uprooting your plants to look for them. 

It’s also worth knowing that chickens take dirt baths, and this goes a long way in keeping their feathers clean and pest-free, but it can cause a lot of mess very quickly.

Food Scraps And Chicken Feed

Perhaps the biggest attraction of a garden to a chicken is the idea of more food. Chickens will flock to anywhere there is an abundance of it, whether that’s chicken feed, grubs, or fallen nuts, seeds, and fruit.

Your Plants

It’s worth knowing that some flowers actively attract chickens, some through their scent, and others because they are an irresistible snack. 

In particular, the likes of violets, pansies, and nasturtiums are favorites, and chickens may make a beeline for these plants.

Even seed pods can attract chickens, too.

Vegetables And Fruit

Growing fruit or vegetables is effectively like a pantry for these enterprising birds! Naturally, they will be attracted to your fruit and vegetable plots.

How To Keep Your Neighbor’s Chickens Out Of Your Garden

It can be a tricky subject, when a neighbor’s animals start looking around your garden for food. But it’s a conversation you should have, as well as using other methods alongside.

Talk To Your Neighbor

Maybe not the method you were hoping for, but talking to your neighbor can go a long way in preventing chickens from getting into your garden. 

It’s also the least expensive option, as your neighbor could put up fences on their property, so that you don’t have to have extra barriers on your property to stop the chickens from getting in.

This is, of course, assuming a certain amount of responsibility on your neighbor’s part, but it should be the first thing you do.

Afterwards, you know where you stand, and if you need to take more active, preventative measures to keep the chickens from destroying your yard.

Train Your Dog To Deter Them

If chickens keep getting into your garden, and you happen to have a dog, well, that’s the issue mostly sorted. 

Dogs love to chase animals off their property, and they will do a good job with chickens. Just make sure that you train your dog to do so without hurting the chickens, otherwise you’ll have an angry neighbor to deal with (among other things).

Shoo Them!

You can be the deterrent, too. Shoo them away with your hands and your voice, and if you do this often enough, they will soon get the message.

Use Passive, Preventative Methods

But there are times when you cannot be in your garden to shoo chickens away. In which case, it’s time to use some passive, preventative methods that won’t hurt the chickens, but they will soon understand that your yard is off-limits.

Here’s how to do it.

Ways To Keep Chickens Out Of Your Garden

Chickens can be pesky and persistent pests, so to make sure they absolutely avoid your garden, it’s worth making sure that you use more than one method consistently, as a single deterrent is unlikely to work by itself.

Here’s what you should try.

Keep Chickens In A Certain Part Of Your Garden

If the chickens are your chickens, and they are wreaking absolute havoc on your garden, it’s worth making a certain area a dedicated, chicken free-for-all playground. 

This will mean having a very good fence, at least four feet tall (to stop the chickens from flying over it), and having areas where the chickens can explore and be safe to be outdoors.

After all, they do a lot of hard work laying eggs, and looking out for slugs and snails. 

Happy chickens lay the best eggs, and a big way of keeping them happy and healthy is letting them spend time outdoors, in a safe, interesting space for them.

Fill this area with watering areas, flowers that the chickens like, areas with compost and other safe things they can root through, and a safe place to rest and feed.

It also means that they won’t be able to destroy the other parts of your garden that you pour all your hard work into, such as your crops or ornamental flower beds.

Chicken Wire And Fencing

Chicken wire is named so for a reason, it can help keep chickens in, but it can also help keep chickens out. 

If the chickens are going exactly where you don’t want them to, it’s time you installed some fences, or even some raised beds.

For any raised beds, it’s worth making sure you have a rigid cage to put over the top of them, so that the chickens can’t get into your herbs and crops.

Use Highly-Fragrant Plants Such As Herbs

Like many animals that can destroy your beloved plants, chickens have a strong sense of smell, and it’s worth capitalizing on this, and using it to your advantage.

Chickens don’t like strongly fragrant plants such as mint, lavender, garlic (including chives), marigolds, or catnip, and tend to avoid them where possible.

Take Advantage Of Ground Cover Plants

As chickens love looking through garden beds, it’s a good idea to make sure your beds have some ground cover plants at the front.

It will deter them to some extent, keeping them off your flower beds, but make sure to use plants that chickens will try to avoid.

This method will not work on its own, so make sure you combine it with other ways to deter your chickens.

Change The Time You Let Them Roam

If the chickens keep making a beeline for everywhere you don’t want them to go, try changing their roaming time to nearly dusk.

They shouldn’t stray too far from their coop, and they are less likely to cause trouble as they are early-risers, and will be tired at this point.

However, do not leave them out unattended, or let them stay out when it’s dark, as foxes and other predators will take advantage of this!

Keep An Eye On Your Chickens

It’s probably not a method you’ll be enthusiastic about, but it’s worth doing until your chickens get the message. 

If they keep going towards an area you don’t want them in, or making a beeline for a particularly tasty plant you want them to leave alone, tell them off! 

You could also pick them up and move them elsewhere, and they will eventually get the message. Chickens are clever animals, and while it may take a while, your patience will pay off.

Motion-Activated Deterrents

There are quite a few motion-activated deterrents on the market that you can use to scare your chickens from a certain part of your yard. 

Some are sound-based deterrents, while others can use motion, lights, or even water to discourage the chickens from exploring part of the garden you want left alone. 

There are a lot of positives to motion-activated deterrents, maybe the most important one being that you don’t have to worry about being in the garden all the time, as the deterrents do the work for you.

Use Predator Decoys

Like other prey animals that can be pests, predator decoys can make sure that the chickens stay out of your garden without you having to be there. 

You can use the likes of plastic hawks, scarecrows, cats, or owls to keep chickens away from certain areas of your garden, but be aware that you will need to move them occasionally, so the chickens don’t get used to them!

Citrus Sprays

Another thing that chickens will actively avoid is the smell of citrus. You can get ready-made citrus sprays, but it is often cheaper to make your own using essential oil.

You might be tempted to scatter orange peel around your garden to ward off the chickens, but this can attract pests, so it’s best to stick to essential oil sprays.

It’s worth noting that essential oils are very flammable, so be careful where you apply them. Always reapply these sprays after rain or watering, as the water washes away the scent.

Dogs

Dogs are brilliant companions, and they will also help to keep chickens and other animals out, as they are very territorial, protective of ‘their’ land as well as you.

Make sure you train your dog to usher them back into the chickens’ part of the garden, and then leave them alone as long as they stay there.

This will mean that you won’t have to keep checking for chickens all the time, trying to guard your poor plants at the same time. Dogs are also excellent herders, and are much better at it than we are! 

They will herd your flock in half the time it takes for you to persuade one to go where it should.

How To Keep Chickens Free Range Without Your Garden Suffering For It

Using multiple methods to discourage chickens from certain areas of your garden will help, but by far the most effective method is to use fencing, and chicken wire.

It’s also useful to use a portion of your garden for the chickens, so that they have a safe space to roam and forage without doing any damage. 

If you fence this off from the rest of your garden, you can largely let them be, as you’ll be safe in the knowledge that they can’t eat your crop plants, or destroy your hard work.

Can You Use Pinwheels To Keep Chickens Away? 

Garden pinwheels can help to keep chickens away from certain areas of your garden, as the movement and sound can scare them. 

Like the plastic decoys, you will need to keep moving pinwheels around to stop the chickens from getting used to them.

Use Garlic, And Garlic-Smelling Plants

Using plants like chives and alliums is a good way of deterring chickens, as well as a diluted spray of garlic concentrate, as the smell is too strong for them.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways to keep chickens out of your yard, but the best way is to use a combination of different methods so that the chickens get the message.

Don’t be afraid to try several methods at once, as this is often a better tactic than using one and hoping for the best.

If you’re using fencing, ensure that it is at least 4 feet high, so that the chickens can’t fly over it.

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