How to keep chickens out of the garden

I have had a garden for as long as I've had chickens. Gardening and chickens just sort of go together after all. Unfortunately they don't quite understand that the garden is not for them! The first year that I had them I learned how to keep the chickens out of the garden. Fencing! Since then I've learned that keeping chickens out of the garden is really simple and almost any barrier will do. 

Keeping chickens out of the garden

Of course some barriers work better than others and garden fencing can get quite expensive, especially if you chose a tall wooden fence! There are many cheaper fencing options though that are less permanent and allow the chickens closer to your plants (so they can eat bugs and weeds) without letting them in to destroy things. Let's talk about those...

Keep chickens out of the garden


Sine 2010 I have been using plastic garden fencing held up with metal or plastic stakes. Since it does not have a hard rail on the top, the chickens don't try to perch on it. It's about 3 feet tall and they cannot fly over it...though the guineas can. Garden fencing must be at least 3 feet tall or they will simply fly over it. I learned that the first year when I used a 2 foot high welded wire for fencing! Fencing that is 5 foot or taller will keep deer out also. 

Fencing the chickens out of the garden


I use a plastic fence that comes in a roll at TSC or home repair stores. It holds up nicely through the seasons and even storing it outdoors in winter, it will last for many, many years. I love the buy it once and use it forever idea! I use metal T-posts to hold it up. The chickens will find a way under this type of fence though. 

To keep the chickens from sneaking under the fence I use garden staples to hold down the fence at regular intervals. As you can see, I put the fence in as soon as I plant the seeds or seedlings. This teaches them to stay out of the garden area even before there is tempting fruits and vegetables growing! Plus, chickens do the most damage to plants when they are small, although they do take bites out of every tomato when they're producing fruit!  

Chicken proof fencing for gardens

Bird netting can be fastened to the top of fencing with zip ties if your chickens try to get over it. I sometimes use it because of the deer, but I haven't found it necessary with chickens.

White picket fence can also be used to keep the chickens out of your garden. It's prettier than the plastic roll fencing and they cant perch on it so they don't attempt to. They may be able to fly over it though, depending on the height of the fence you choose.

Actually, any type of decorative garden fence without a flat rail on top would work to keep the chickens out. The key is to choose something they cannot perch on to discourage them from hopping up on top of the fence and down into the garden on the other side. As mentioned before, it will need to be at least 3 feet tall.

Raised garden beds with fencing work really well, though I haven't been able to have many here.

A really cheap option is bird netting used as fence. Tomato stakes and zip ties are all that's needed although you can use t-posts on the corners. This works best if you don't have other critters trying to get into your garden like rabbits or deer as it is kind of flimsy. 

Of course your could always fence your garden in the same way you fence your chickens in! I use a 5 foot fence and T posts on my duck pen and it keeps the chickens out just fine. It would also work great for a garden. My friend Annie has a great tutorial on putting up livestock fence that way. She uses chicken wire and I use welded wire, but either type of roll fencing will work.

Can you garden with chickens?


I've written about planting a garden for my chickens before and I have to admit, they don't understand the difference between my garden and their garden! lol They certainly don't ignore mine just because they have their own...so fencing is crucial in keeping them out of my garden! 

I do share the bounty from my garden with the chickens, though I certainly do it on my terms. I also like to let them into my garden in the fall to help clean up. Actually I leave it open to them all winter too as they often find bugs and left over seeds when I let them free range. 

A lot has been written lately about gardening with chickens and it seems like a difficult task. I have been doing it for 10 years though and it really is possible to have a garden and chickens at the same time without them eating everything you grow!

Want to know more about gardening with chickens? Check out all my posts on gardening with chickens going way back to 2011!

~L

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