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Free-Range Chicken Gardens: Chicken-Resistant Plants

by Timber Press on January 18, 2012

in Gardening, Natural History

To celebrate the publication of Free-Range Chicken Gardens, we’re giving away a chicken garden start-up kit — including a coop plan, seeds for chicken-friendly plants, chicken feed, and more (including a copy of the book, of course)!

If you’ve been thinking about exploring the many benefits that chicken gardens provide, head over to our contest page and sign up. Or you can read this excerpt from Free-Range Chicken Gardens:

Chicken-Resistant Plants

Chickens don't seem to bother daylilies

What about beautiful plants for our gardens that are chicken-resistant? Chickens simply avoid many ornamental plants. Of course, there will always be exceptions with animals, because they have different taste preferences and attitudes. Chickens usually do much more damage with their feet than with their beaks, and often they ignore plants altogether. As we do with our children and dogs, we need to supervise our chickens, especially when they are new to our garden, because some plants need protection and we won’t always know which plants those will be.

If you have a reasonable amount of chickens for your space and a well-designed and managed garden, there are many plants the chickens may ignore. Plants often have certain attributes that make chicken less likely to destroy them, including spiky or abrasive plants that are uncomfortable to walk on, such as junipers; strong odors from plants, like herbs such as rosemary and sage; highly durable plants with strong stems and leaves.


  • Andromeda (Pieris species)
  • Azalea (Rhododendron species)
  • Barberry (Berberis species)
  • California lilac (Ceanothus species)
  • Cotton lavender (Santolina chamaecyparissus)
  • Euonymus (Euonymus species)
  • Evergreen ferns (Polystichum species)
  • Fatsia (Fatsia japonica)
  • Forsythia (Forsythia × intermedia)
  • Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)
  • Hebes (Hebe species)
  • Honeysuckle (Lonicera species)
  • Lavender (Lavendula species)
  • Lilac (Syringa species)
  • Mahonia (Mahonia species)
  • Mexican orange (Choisya ternata)
  • Osmanthus (Osmanthus species)
  • Pine (Pinus species)
  • Pittosporum (Pittosporum species)
  • Rose (Rosa species)
  • Rosemary (Rosmarinus species)
  • Sage (Salvia species)
  • Salal (Gaultheria shallon)
  • Spiraea (Spiraea species)
  • Spurge (Euphorbia species)
  • Viburnum (Viburnum species)
  • Weigela (Weigela species)


  • Bergenia (Bergenia cordifolia)
  • Bishop’s hat (Epimedium species)
  • Candytuft (Iberis sempervirens)
  • Christmas rose (Helleborus species)
  • Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster species)
  • Deadnettle (Lamium species)
  • Feverfew (Tanacetum parthenium)
  • Geum (Geum species)
  • Japanese spurge (Pachysandra terminalis)
  • Juniper (Juniperus species)
  • Lamb’s ear (Stachys byzantina)
  • Leadwort (Plumbago auriculata)
  • Lilyturf (Liriope species)
  • Marjoram (Origanum majorana)
  • Oregano (Origanum vulgare)
  • Phlox (Phlox species)
  • Sedge (Carex species)
  • Sedum (Sedum species)
  • St Johns wort (Hypericum perforatum)
  • Sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum)


  • Bee balm, bergamot (Monarda species)
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbekia species)
  • Bluebeard (Caryopteris species)
  • Calla lily (Zantedeschia species)
  • Cape fuchsia (Phygelius capensis)
  • Catmint, catnip (Nepeta species)
  • Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
  • Colum bine (Aquilegia species)
  • Coneflower (Echinacea rubra)
  • Crocosmia (Crocosmia species)
  • Daylily (Hemerocallis species)
  • Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis)
  • Grape hyacinth (Muscari species)
  • Hardy fuchsias (Fuchsia species)
  • Hardy geranium (Geranium species)
  • Iris (Iris species)
  • Japanese anemone (Anemone japonica)
  • Lady’s mantle (Alchemilla mollis)
  • Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Lily of the Nile (Agapanthus species)
  • Mission bells (Fritillaria species)
  • Peony (Paeonia species)
  • Peppermint (Mentha ×piperita)
  • Russian sage (Perovskia species)
  • Sedum (Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’)
  • Shasta daisy (Chrysanthemum maximum)
  • Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
  • Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)


  • Borage (Borago officinalis)
  • Love in a mist (Nigella damascena)
  • Pot marigold (Calendula species)


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