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chicken resistant plants

Hello all! New to forum here image I have a section of garden for my chickens which is of course now devoid of grass. But I was surprised to find that bluebells, primula and hellebore survived their scratching around. I now plan to plant up the area with a mixture of shade and shelter giving shrubs such as viburnum, and smaller plants so that it encourages wildlife and doesn't look brown. Do people have experience of what plants might survive chickens other than these? Thanks.


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  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    I'm not sure Rebecca (we're getting chickens soon so I've been trying to research this) not I found this link with a big list on if it's any use! (its in America I think but some plants should still apply).

  • Chickens will reduce a piece of land to a lunarscape in a very short time......plants they won't eat; I would be thinking plant & machinery! image 

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 8,107

    I think Chrissie is on the right track with protection until the plants are larger/established root system.

    Apart from mature trees and hedging in my chickens garden, I also have planted several shrubs and perennials over the last couple of years..........Weigela, Winter flowering Honeysuckle (excellent for early Bees ), Choisya, Hellebore, Bamboo, Mock orange, Foxglove, Hesperis, Ivy, Valerian, Hardy fuchsias etc.  I also let dandelion, sow thistle and various "weeds" grow and self seed.  The original grass has long gone I'm afraid .

    Much depends on the space the chickens have ......if enough to keep them interested and stop them concentrating on one particular area all the time , you can eventually achieve some sort of garden  which looks attractive for most of the year.

  • Wonderful responses folks! thanks for the link Clarington. 

    Chrissie and Philippa; yes to the root system remark. I've got patches of chicken wire everywhere around establishing plants right now! and thanks for the list of your own philippa, it will come in very handy image 

    I also let weeds grow in their bit...well at least its green!

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 8,107 interested to know if you have other ideas..........I'm always looking for stuff to make the Chicken garden - about 40 square foot for 3 chickens........... more interesting.......I am currently trying to plant Spinach and Cabbage which will be handy later in the year...........trouble is, they think its all for now so it's the usual wire netting cage for a whileimage

  • Victoria SpongeVictoria Sponge WearsidePosts: 2,785

    Hi Rebecca,

    I've had chickens for a year now and have been experimenting with planting in their run, partly because I'm running out of plant space but also for interest and shelter.

    All the plants are young and smallish, but my three haven't attacked berberis, spirea, crab apple Louisa, pyracantha and a currant bush.

    Ive put two layers of bricks around alliums, small dogwoods, clematis, climbing rose and honeysuckle to protect the roots and they have been left alone.

    They trashed some daffs that came up through the bark chips and ripped the bottom leaves off a Kilmarnock willow last year although they seem to have left it alone now. They also nibbled some succulents I had in a pot so I relocated them to the hen house roof.

    I'm experimenting with growing sweet peas up their net fence (planted on the outside) and they have only dislodged a few so far. They can reach other plants through the fence too but don't seem inclined to bother at present... image

  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 58,786

    Chickens will trash almost any plant given time, as even if they're not going to eat it, they're innately curious creatures and want to keep having a go.  

    When I kept chickens the only things that survived in their large pens were thistles, nettles and elderberry bushes.!  

    A friend had Japanese Knotweed in her garden - she build the chicken run around it - 10 years later - no JKW - the chickens had eradicated it! image

    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • philippa smith2philippa smith2 Posts: 8,107

    Victoria.......can I borrow your Chickens for a while please ?  They can teach mine NOT to eat the Currant bush leavesimage  They haven't bothered in previous years except for pinching the fruit (same as Raspberries ) but this year both Red and Black currant bushes are devoid of leaves to a height at which my chickens can jump.

    I made an error in my previous post because my "Chicken" garden measures approx.

    30 feet by 25 feet so you'd think they had enough spaceimage  However, the more stuff I plant, the more I find which will survive and as they have plenty of sturdy planting and places to dust bathe, they are happy chickens on the wholeimage

    Still working on trying to give them a grass area which they won't immediately demolish but I have a feeling I'm still going to be trying to work that one out for the foreseeable future.

    I do quite often just let them out into the main garden so that they can peck the lawn but only do it just for 10 mins or so before dark..........that way at least they don't do any damage as they are conscious of the light level and the necessity of getting back to their shed for the night.image

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Phillppa - re the grass problem. I was looking at this (only too aware that the run itself will be stripped bare) and saw a clever little way someone had made grass available to their chickens by putting a grass in a seed tray and building a sturdy welding wire mesh (boxed in with wood so there were no sharp edges) lid that fitted snuggly over the top so that the chickens couldn't reach all the way in to pick it clean. They'd leave it in for a few days and then swap it over with something else (in one instance with seeds from their feed they'd germinated a few weeks prior) so it could recover.

    I'm hoping to do something similar with plants in pots with a wire globe buried inside to give the main root ball some protection so that they've plenty of positive stimulation to keep their brains from planning to take over the world and once the plant looks a little too battered it can be whipped out and a replacement put in while it recovers... we'll have to see how / if it works out.

    There's lots of ideas like this on Pintrest if you ever have a spare hour to loose! image

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