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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.

Shrubs

  • 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)

Groundcovers

  • 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)

Perennials

  • 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)

Annuals

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

 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sue May 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm

I have to keep my “free-range” chickens in a very large enclosure so the dogs don’t “herd” them. I have been wanting to put plants in with them, and now I can look thru these for those that are shade tolerant. Everybody can be happy! Thanks. I’d also like to put a few in that chickens DO like.

2 Brian Ridder May 15, 2012 at 11:42 am

Hi Sue! Maybe we’ll do a post sometime about plants that chickens do like..? Be sure to let us know how it goes. Good luck!

3 Isabelle May 17, 2012 at 6:37 am

Merci pour cet article que je vais relayer. A quand la traduction de ce superbe livre en Français ?

4 Brian Ridder May 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm

Salut Isabelle! Merci pour le compliment. Pas de plans encore traduire ce livre en français. Je ne manquerai pas de l’annoncer sur le blog si nous le faisons.

5 Debra Campbell May 17, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I had already noticed that my chickens avoided my potted mints, artemesia, thyme, etc. I wanted to plant these all in the ground, but didn’t want my chickens to scratch the roots free so I came up with a few solutions. I place fist-sized rocks around the base of the artemesia plant. The rocks are pretty, but too heavy for the chickens to move. For my mint plants, I made 2-foot square planter boxes that are about 6″ high. I cut the mint down low and planted it in the center of the box. Then I stapled chicken wire over the top of the box. The mint will grow up through the chicken wire and the chickens won’t be able to scratch it out. I also opened up and stapled a paper rabbit food bag over a larger planter box to discourage scratching around some squash plants. I just cut a hole in the middle of the paper to plant the squash.

6 Brian Ridder, Marketing Coordinator May 17, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Great advice, Debra, thanks for sharing!
(When I first read this, I thought you wrote “rabbit foot bag,” which produced a whole different image!)

7 chris rowan August 6, 2013 at 8:17 am

They ate my marigolds down to nubs.

8 Brian Ridder August 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Yikes! Sorry to hear that, Chris. You might have better luck with pot marigold (Calendula species) next time…

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