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Incorporating Pet Friendly Ideas

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  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Thank you everyone. I really am very grateful: of course dog owners manuals are never written thinking people might like their gardens to be places for anything other than toilets and reading what you're writing is proving fantastic.

  • nightgardennightgarden SW ScotlandPosts: 112

    I let my border/beardie collie cross in the garden from the beginning but she wasn't allowed on any beds or borders. I made very clear edges so that she could see where the difference was. I agree with higher post about designating a toilet area, well worth the effort. A slightly more tricky thing I found was teaching my dog to run round things rather than through them, but eventually we have come to agree on routes. Ihave chickens too - Welsommers and Cream Legbars. They do a great deal of good eating up undesirable slugs etc. They are only really a problem when seedbeds and nursery areas have new plants so I cover them in mesh then they can stomp to their heart's content. I have a run too so that they can be kept in till all precautions have been taken. Their helpful clearing of bugs outweighs their nuisance value.

    The most difficult part was making peace between dog and hens - puppies chase anything so that was tricky for a while!

  • nightgardennightgarden SW ScotlandPosts: 112

    Ha image- I agree, chickens are good at doing what they need to for their own happiness! Mine spend hours clearing away debris from underneath the birdtables - useful to deter mice and rats, although having said that both feeding stations have very fat and shiny bank voles living underneath them! 

  • I have a large, partly wild garden and a dozen free range hens, some bantams, most not. The bantams do less damage as their feet are smaller and not as strong. The type of damage is the same for both however.

    As Victoria says above, they can dig up or rip leaves on plants. They may eat some leaves or flowers, I find certain times worse than others.

     

    Problems

    In early spring , when new growth is just emerging the tender foliage can really suffer.

    Bare, especially newly turned soil will attract them - mine come running as soon as they hear the sound of digging. They scratch for worms and grubs and in summer when soil is drier they make dust baths. These can be large craters, with all the excavated soil thrown over neighbouring plants or paths. If you had just planted seeds, well ....

    Newly planted plants may be investigated and their leaves tweaked so they get uprooted.

    They love to play confuseagardener by pulling out plant labels and throwing them around!

    Some Solutions

    Keep precious  or vulnerable plants safely fenced off, either permanently or temporarily  - my hens will fly onto and then off  a wall but not over a low wire fence  that they can't land on. Bamboo canes and a roll of light wire can be deployed until soil and plants  have settled and the hens have found a new area of interest.

    I often plant in the early evening after the hens have retired to roost. That way they don't notice the new plants so readily. Mulching with gravel helps prevent dust baths -this has worked fairly well for my rockery, along with some behaviour training. I rushed out with a broom and shooed them off every time they started to scratch, now they trot decorously along the rockery path on their way to a designated dust bath area .

    Large mesh pea and bean netting in dark green or black stretched over beds or borders using short lengths of bamboo is almost invisible and will prevent scratching, but you can still weed through it, with care. Small pieces of  wire netting can be placed over individual new or small plants or loosened soil.

    As long as I remember to net things and shut the gate to my protected area we rub along quite well together, the hens, the ducks and me. (Ducks are another story!) They peck the dandelions on the terrace, eat excess poppy and alchemilla seeds, keep the front gravel yard where I feed them weed-free and eat up any vine weevil grubs or sawfly larvae on offer. My hostas rarely have any sign of slug damage and some of my hens have learned to deal with snails too. And they spend hours every day, poking about on my huge informal compost heap, so it all gets turned and rots down fast, plus they make their own contribution to soil fertility with their waste. Hens are  also much more reliable than cats for dispatching any mouse found in the corn bins. I know this to be true, but don't do it deliberately!

    Have fun with your hens.They will probably keep you company while you are gardening and you will find they have different personalities too and can learn quite well, when it suits them!

  • ClaringtonClarington Posts: 4,949

    Thank you Butter! I'm planning on having the vegetable and herb gardens chicken proofed as much as is ever possible to give any delicates a chance plus I've been looking at rotation systems that will mean they have their own "garden bed" to destroy with fresh seedlings as appropriate to the season to keep their minds busy.

    Edd that's a really interesting idea! It might not be appropriate to my garden but has definitely given me an idea of how to separate my vegetable beds so that they can have access to ones as required while keeping the others safe!

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