Gardens take a lot of work – whether they’re flower or vegetable gardens. And sometimes, chickens decide they want to explore the garden, too. Only, we don’t always want the chickens in the garden. So what are some natural, safe, and effective ways to keep chickens out of flower gardens?
Here are natural, safe, and effective ways to keep your chickens and your flower garden safe.
- Use natural chicken deterrent landscaping
- Make physical distances work for you
- Get rid of bugs your chickens want to eat
- Make your dog guard the flowers (and the chickens)
- Install a motion sensor sprinkler
- Be your own security
- Use a fence and/or clipped feathers to separate the chickens and flowers
- Distract the chickens and/or plant the chickens their own flower bed
- Rethink the type of flowers you’re growing
- Use safe animal repellent devices
Now, there are important things mentioned in each of the tips when we go into detail that you wouldn’t miss out on, like environmentally safe devices to use, good dog breeds for guarding chickens (and flowers), and features you should consider when planting their flower bed or buying an animal repellent device. So keep reading to find out.
Ways to Keep Chickens out of Flower Beds and Gardens (that actually work)
Chickens love to explore. Mostly because they like to find tasty things to eat. So let’s focus on making the flower beds as boring and inaccessible as possible – while making other areas of your yard far more appealing.
Tip #1: Use natural landscaping (rocks or bricks) to deter chickens.
Although chickens love scratching, kicking up dirt, and picking at plant roots, they don’t usually fancy doing that where rocks or bricks are placed. Mine don’t seem to mind wood chips one bit. But the small area with bricks in my yard? They’ll pass.
Now, a few little rocks won’t do. After all, chickens do eat rocks. But if you’re using gravel paths to line the edge of the flower bed? That may deter them to some degree.
If the flowers are still seedlings, then arrange the stones in such a manner as to give little gaps for the seedlings to grow through. These gaps shouldn’t be big enough for the chickens to peck at the seedlings. Also, if arranged rightly, they can add a nice aesthetic touch to your flower bed.
Know that this isn’t something that you can use alone and expect it to work all the time, every time. It’s something that will definitely keep some of the flock away. However, some of your more adventurous chickens won’t mind the rough ground if it means there’s a tasty treat. So definitely use this with the other tips in this list.
Tip #2: Use physical distancing to keep the coop far away.
This pandemic may have been tough on a lot of people, but we’ve learned that physical distancing works! Okay, so it worked for the pandemic. But it also works for keeping chickens out of off-limits areas.
So if they can’t see your flower bed in the first place, then they wouldn’t even think of going near it to wreak havoc on it. Also, chickens don’t like to stray too far from their coops except for very good reasons, and going in search of your flower bed isn’t one of those reasons. Food? Sure. But just to smell the flowers? Nope.
This tip will most especially favor those who live on a large property. If you’ve got a smaller backyard, then this may not work as well. In that case, it may be best to keep the flower garden in the front yard.
Tip #3: Get rid of tasty bugs your chickens want to eat.
Bugs and insects are a delicacy for chickens and naturally will attract chickens wherever they are. Unfortunately, bugs and insects tend to be where flower beds are, so your chickens will inevitably find them there.
Getting rid of them by whatever means possible will greatly reduce the chances of chickens going there in search of them. Some of the most popular options for bug removal are physical removal, using an insecticide, or other home remedies.
One option is spraying your flower bed with organic or natural insecticides. Now, no insecticide is 100% nontoxic but some are less toxic to the environment and also relatively safe for beneficial bugs and insects. For starters, categories of insecticides that you could consider include:
- Insecticidal soaps and oils e.g natural guard insecticidal soap, horticultural oils such as Sunnit Year-Round Spray Oil Concentrate (98%) OMRI, etc.
- Botanical insecticides such as neem products, Azadirachtin, etc.
- Microbial insecticides such as Bacillus thuringiensis, Milky Spore, etc.
If you’re against using insecticides of any type, that’s fine, too. I’ve heard that placing a bowl of various items (from Worcestershire sauce to beer) can trap various types of bugs in the bowl without having to use anything stronger. I’ve never personally had success with the Worcestershire sauce – or soy sauce.
However, I have found that putting a plastic cup (with the bottom cut off) around seedlings while they grow does protect them from the bugs – and the chickens. It doesn’t help with the number of bugs, but it does protect the plants until they’re big enough to survive a few bugs – and curious pecks from a chicken.
Tip #4: Get a trained guard dog, or train your own dog.
Dogs are more than just man’s best friend, as they have proven to also be great helpmates. They’re great for things such as being used to herd cattle and livestock.
Training your dog or getting an already trained one to keep them out of your flower bed is a great way to stop your chickens from destroying your flower bed. Just let Spot loose and let him do his thing. However, make sure the prey drive has been trained out of him to avoid coming back to a bloodied coop.
Some good breeds to consider can include:
- Welsh corgi
- Border collie
- Australian shepherd
- Shetland sheepdogs, etc.
A rule of thumb is that if they can herd cattle then they can probably help with your chickens. In essence, consider getting expert advice.
That being said, we’ve got a labrador/poodle mix – which is two kinds of bird dogs. He’s exactly the wrong kind of dog for guarding chickens. We don’t let him guard them unsupervised, even after several years of training him to be around chickens safely. But Kai has gotten pretty decent at guarding the hens – from the other side of a fence.
However, when the chickens get too close to the wrong fence, Kai is great at running out and barking at the flock. Then the hens go running away from him – and the fence we don’t want them crossing.
Tip #5: Install a motion sensor sprinkler.
Chickens and water don’t go too well together. They may like to drink it, but the same can’t be said when it comes to being drenched in it. Installing a water sprinkler is a great option to keep them away from your flower garden.
Apart from the water that is sprinkled at them, the shock they get when they are squirted with a jet of water also means that it would be a while before they attempt to raid your flower bed again. Also, motion sensor sprinklers are super convenient, save you the stress of having to use a water hose or spray bottle each time you want to keep them away, and are relatively inexpensive to acquire.
Just warn your children or any visitors about the motion sensor sprinkler. They don’t tend to appreciate the surprise!
Tip #6: Be your own security.
Maybe not the most likable tip on this list, but it is a viable one when you’re less busy and have the time. This would require you to grab a foldable chair and keep an eye out for the chickens.
Hitting them with a gentle squirt of water from a water hose or spray bottle should get the job done. The good ol’ “shoo” should also be enough. Alternatively, if you live with someone else or you have kids, you could take turns keeping an eye out on the flower beds just to keep things from getting too boring.
In the summer, we like going out to watch the chickens anyway. So we’ll go out with a folding chair – and guard the flower and vegetable gardens. Plus, once we’re out there, the chickens are more interested in us – mostly because we bring food scraps and treats like scratch! So don’t be afraid to mix some fun into the business side of things.
Tip #7: Fence your flower bed. Clip a few feathers.
This is among the most effective ways to keep your chickens out of your flower bed. However, it could be a bit expensive depending on the type of fence you select. There are a couple of DIY options out there that you could try if you’re into that.
What if they fly over it? Although they are birds, chickens aren’t the greatest flyers. Their bodies aren’t built for long flights, and their wings can sustain flight for only seconds at best. They usually use their wings to run faster or to jump higher.
So, these birds would choose to plod around all day long rather than attempt a strenuous activity such as flying. Then again, some most especially the younger ones could get a bit overzealous and still try to fly over. We’ve got one chicken, ingeniously named “Chicken A” by my youngest boy, who can “fly” over our 3-foot-tall chain-link fence without a problem.
So, here are things you could consider doing just to make the fence even more effective.
- The fence should be high, at least four feet.
- Make the top of the fence a bit wobbly just to give them an unstable foothold whenever they try to perch on it. It’s ugly, but it is effective. Our chickens will walk along the top of the chain-link fence (it’s got that bar on the top to make it sturdy), but they won’t walk our wobbly pasture fence.
- Electrify the fence. The voltage used should be within a safe range, just enough to give them a shock and not hurt them.
Another thing you can do if the fence option isn’t totally viable is to clip the chicken’s wings. We clip one wing on Chicken A – and then she can’t get enough height to jump the fence. Why just one wing? Well, that hen is athletic enough that if we did both wings, she could still jump the fence. But only clipping one wing? It threw her pseudo-flight balance off just enough to prevent fence hopping.
Clipping a few of the flight feathers won’t harm your chicken – and it can be done in less than a minute per chicken. Just remember that the feathers do regrow after each molt, so it’s not a forever cure-all. It’s a “don’t forget to do it and then check it every few months” fix.
Tip #8: Use distraction. Plant the chickens in their own flower bed.
One good way to divert the attention of a baby from a toy is to give them a cooler-looking toy. Or if you want your sibling or significant other to stop borrowing your phone charger, then you simply get them their own. Well, the same principle applies to chickens. Distraction works – whether it’s making another part of your yard more appealing or planting the chickens their own flower garden.
Making a flower bed for them is a good method to keep them away from your own flower bed. The only thing is that it won’t exactly be in the pattern yours is, and here’s what I mean.
- Plant their favorite flowers with a little bit of their favorite food crop and possibly ones that have a higher tendency to attract bugs and insects.
- Make sure you’re planting their flowers and grasses in an area where they can make a mess. They’re liable to eat the plants, till up the soil, and take dust baths once they hit the dirt.
- Don’t use insecticides on this flower bed. You want to keep the bug and insect community alive and thriving because your chickens are on patrol. You could even manually introduce a few garden-safe bug varieties. All this just to make the flower bed even more attractive to your chickens.
- The flower bed should be situated closer to their coop or within their free-range area.
Our chickens have their own “chicken blend” of wild grasses and flowers. We’ve also found that our hens love eating dandelions, so that part of our yard stays free of weeds that plague the rest of our yard. So go ahead and plant some flowers and other plants for your chickens.
Tip #9: Rethink the type of flowers you’re growing.
Yes, I know you love your roses and sunflowers, but if they keep attracting bugs and chickens then you really should consider changing the type of flower you plant.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a shortlist of some great alternatives which act as a natural repellent to most bugs and some even repel chickens themselves since they hate the smell (it smells bad to them alone and not us). So, to get you started we have a few ideas based on our experience and research.
- Lavender. Not only is it a natural insect repellent, but chickens don’t seem to like the smell, either.
- Mint. Great for cooking, natural insect repellent, and another chicken repellent.
- Petunias. They’re not my favorite, either. I don’t blame the chickens for staying away.
- Lemon thyme. It’s been established that chickens don’t usually like the smell of citrus, so this also doubles as a chicken repellent.
- Lemongrass. Another citrus-smelling plant that repels chickens.
- Marigold. Works great as an insect repellent.
It should be noted that no plant is 100% bug proof and the plants serve to reduce as much as possible the number of bugs and insects attracted to them. I’m testing a few of these plants in our vegetable garden this year – I’m tired of the chickens’ perpetual inspection of my garden. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Tip #10: Use safe animal repellent devices.
Just like humans, animals instinctively react to loud noises and thankfully, the same can be said of chickens. Designed to keep away wild or domestic animals, animal repellent devices work by using heat or motion sensors, or both to detect when there’s an intruder and send out a loud, high-pitched sound that gives the intruder a good scare. Before you buy and install one, here are things to consider when getting one.
- Try to get one that flashes bright lights like the color red.
- Get one that varies its sound or even one that you can record or install a sound you want, to keep the chickens from getting used to it.
- One that uses both heat and motion sensors and that has a wide coverage area.
- One that is operated wirelessly for portability.
- If noises or flashing lights are an issue, try a statue of a chicken predator (hawks and owls do great).
The downside to this might be if you have little kids or babies that could easily get scared from the loud noise emitted and also, they could be a bit pricey costing up to $100, but it all depends on what type you get.
Another option is to get a statue of a chicken predator. Our neighbors have an owl statue that peeks up just over the 6-foot tall privacy fence. One time when our chickens got onto a 4-foot tall structure so that they saw the fake owl, they panicked and haven’t ever tried that fence again.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Chickens out of Flower Gardens
In conclusion, one method alone may not be 100% successful, so try implementing two or more methods at a time to increase the success rate. Also, interchanging the methods you use is a good idea to keep things fresh and keep your chickens from finding a way around them.
Because even the owl statue gets old – unless you move it around. Then it’s like the scary version of Where’s Waldo for chickens – and it keeps them out of the area where the statue is. And hey – your kids may love being in charge of the statue-moving chore!
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s make sure all of your questions about keeping chickens out of flower beds (or gardens) are answered. And if I missed your question? Be sure to contact me and let me know so I can get it answered for you.
How do I keep chickens out of my garden without a fence?
Using a fence was one of our ten tips mentioned, but the other nine had nothing to do with a fence. So consider applying any of the nine other tips as they would be great alternatives if you don’t want to fence your chickens in. Another method to consider is the use of a chicken tractor. That way, there’s no fence, but your chickens are still contained to a specific area.
What smell do chickens hate?
Chickens dislike bitter or strong smells. Just like we can tell to an extent if something is good or bad for us by the smell, chickens can also. Scents like mint, lavender, citrus, and in general spices with a strong smell, etc. are unpleasant to them and will quickly make them lose interest in your flower bed.
How do I keep neighbors’ chickens out of my garden?
The best bet is to ask them to kindly keep their chickens in check, but we all may not have agreeable neighbors so setting up a fence around your garden or your property should work. In extreme cases, calling the local authorities to help you talk to that headstrong neighbor works also.
In my experience, most times I noticed that the neighbor’s chickens were in my front yard flower garden it was because the chickens had escaped – and the neighbor didn’t know it. So make sure you let them know – and then be patient while they figure out and fix the problem. In our case, it took a few days – and then the issue was gone.
How do I keep chickens out of my mulch?
Sprinkling spices with scents that chickens hate over the mulch will keep them away. You can also scatter the peels of limes, lemons, etc over the area. This is because as mentioned before chickens hate the smell of citrus. If those aren’t available then installing a motion sensor sprinkler or animal repellent device also works.
Just remember to refresh the spices, or your chickens won’t keep away as water washes away the deterrents.
If that’s the case, there is one thing you can do: pretend your chickens are tilling the mulch in for you. That’s what we do! If anything, it’s made our garden beds that much better from all the free fertilizer and natural tilling.
Learning from your own experience is important, but learning from others is also smart. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “How To Keep Chickens Out of Flower Beds and Gardens.” Backyard Chickens – Learn How to Raise Chickens, Backyard Chickens – Learn How to Raise Chickens, 7 Apr. 2021, www.backyardchickens.com/threads/how-to-keep-chickens-out-of-flower-beds-and-gardens.334816/page-3.
- Russ, Karen, and Joey Williamson. Less Toxic Insecticides. 8 Feb. 2019, hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/less-toxic-insecticides/.