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Gardener regrets allowing chickens to roam free in yard after assessing damages: 'Digging hard around established plants and shrubs'

"I also have some kale planted in one bed that I've decided [to] sacrifice to the chickens."

"I also have some kale planted in one bed that I've decided [to] sacrifice to the chickens."

Photo Credit: iStock

Backyard chickens can benefit your garden but also wreak havoc on young plants. One Reddit user wonders if they made a mistake by placing the chicken coop enclosure near their garden beds. 

The Redditor explained they installed a chicken coop among their traditional and raised garden beds. Much to their dismay, the chickens were "digging hard around established plants and shrubs." 

The original poster asked if simple fencing around the garden beds would prevent the chickens from causing damage. For anyone trying to revive the surrounding environment with healthy, native plants, the answer to this question might be helpful.

According to an article on the Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities website, chickens spend 61% of their time foraging food by pecking at and scratching the ground. This is instinctive, so they'll do this even when food is available.

However, free-range chickens only require a little room to roam. Organic Feeds recommends that a 10-foot run from the chicken coop per bird is adequate for containing them and preventing them from disturbing your garden. Chickens are beneficial for pest control and provide natural fertilizer, too.

If you want another low-maintenance solution for lawn control, native plants, clover, and buffalo grass can rewild the environment and require little water.

Those options can save you money in the long-term, too, as spending just $1,000 on native plants leads to savings of $275 on irrigation annually — and prevents the use of 1.75 million gallons of water over 10 years — even just with partial coverage. You'll also spend less on fertilization and weed control.

In response to the OP, one Reddit user suggested limiting chickens' time in the garden "from the end of harvest to planting time in the spring." Another user shared the OP's sentiments, saying they enclosed five chickens in a 20-by-20-foot enclosure and "there are no green things" left where they roam.

Meanwhile, another user prevents chickens from devouring plants by caging the seedlings. They lay welded wire fencing across their raised beds until the plants are fully grown. 

"I also have some kale planted in one bed that I've decided [to] sacrifice to the chickens," they said, helping to draw the chickens away from the plants and vegetation they want to save.

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