Gardening with Free-Range Chickens For Dummies
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Some plants deter chickens from entering certain areas. Chicken-resilient plants come in many forms, as in specific trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, and ground covers. It helps if they are woody, with deep roots. Many plants that are dense such as mass plantings and groundcovers can also be effective in deterring chickens.

A young form of any tree, shrub, perennial must be protected from chickens until it has time to mature. A plant that is considered to be chicken-resistant needs time to grow and mature before exposing it to a flock of chickens.

Here are plant examples that are considered to be chicken-resistant:

  • Trees: Most trees are chicken-resistant. An exception might be if an outside pen was constructed around an existing tree, and a large flock of chickens was continuously burrowing under it, roosting, and heavily fertilizing it.

  • Shrubs: Most popular with chickens for shelter, protection, and relaxing. Can vary in sizes. Salvias are woody perennials that stand up to chickens. Some popular varieties are Cleveland Sage, Salvia Clevelandii, and Mexican Sage, Sage mexicana.

    Here are some more examples to consider:

    • Barberry: Berberis spp.

    • Breath of Heaven: Coleonema spp.

    • California Wild Lilac: Ceanothus spp.

    • Camellia: Camellia spp.

    • Euonymus: Euonymus microphyllus

    • Ferns: Polystichum spp.

    • Lavender: Lavendula spp.

    • Lilac: Syringa spp.

    • Pittosporum: Pittosporum spp.

    • Plumbago: Plumbago spp.

    • Rose: Rosa spp.

    • Rosemary: Rosemarinus officinalis spp.

    • Spiraea: Spiraea spp.

    • Sage: Salvia spp.

    • Viburnum: Viburnum spp.

  • Perennials: Plants that are “work horses” in the garden. Landscape geraniums, Pelargoniums spp., can cover large flowerbeds and parts of the garden with chickens scratching around them.

    Check out these varieties:

    • Black-Eyed Susan: Rudbekia spp.

    • Calla Lily: Zantedeschia spp.

    • Catmint: Nepeta spp.

    • Daylily: Hemerocallis spp.

    • Hosta: Hosta spp

    • Iris: Iris spp.

    • Lily of the Nile: Agapanthus spp.

    • Peony: Paeonia spp.

    • Shasta Daisy: Chrysanthemum maximum

    • Yarrow: Achillea spp.

  • Groundcover: Tap into the beauty and function of ground covers. Ground covers are usually dense, aesthetic, aromatic, functional, and some are edible. The density keeps chickens away from them. They have trouble scratching through the soil.

    Here are some examples:

    • Blueberry (low bush): Vaccinium angustifolum, Brunswick, Burgundy, and Top Hat varieties

    • Feverfew: Tanacetum parthenium.

    • Juniper (low varieties): Juniperous.

    • Mint (creeping types): Mentha spp. It can be invasive in a garden.

    • Rosemary (trailing types): Rosmarinus officinalis

    • Roses (ground covers): Rosa spp.

    • Sweet Woodruff: Galium odoratum. It can be invasive in a garden.

    • Thyme (creeping varieties): Thymus spp.

  • Annuals: Annuals have a short season, yet mature into a splash. Chickens benefit by eating these in the chicken garden.

    Here are two types to check out:

    • Borage, Borago officinalis. Every chicken garden should have this annual growing in it. It easily reseeds, but does not transplant well because of a large taproot.

    • Nasturtium (trailing variety), Tropaeolum majus. Another indispensible annual in a chicken garden. Reseeds easily.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Bonnie Jo Manion has been featured in national garden magazines with her gardens, organic practices, chickens, and designs. Follow Bonnie at Rob Ludlow is the owner of, a top source on chicken raising, and the coauthor of Raising Chickens For Dummies.

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