How to Keep Chickens Out of the Garden

how to keep chickens out of garden featured image
Chickens can be kept out of gardens by installing 4-foot high fencing, eliminating any places for chicken baths, and spraying certain scents that repel chickens. You can also plant them their own vegetable garden located next to their chicken coop.

Having chickens around the yard is usually an enjoyable experience. They make for cxceptional company when working around the yard, and add a sense of liveliness to your outdoor space.

However, as chickens are natural forages, they often become mischievous by eating through your veggie patch and digging up your flower garden. They will naturally be drawn to any plants in their immediate vicinity, but luckily, there are a variety of ways to prevent them from pecking through your garden.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the more effective ways to chicken-proof your garden.

Fencing Off Your Garden

One of the best approaches to keeping your vegetable garden chicken free is to fence it off. If your chickens aren’t able to get into the garden, then they will likely take their foraging elsewhere.

chickens in pen next to garden
Fencing off your garden with 4-foot high fencing

You can choose to individually fence in specific plants, or run a fence around the entire perimeter of your garden. Wrapping chicken wire around plant cages is an easy and effective way to secure certain veggies such as tomatoes or peppers. Additionally, having your plants barricaded may also prevent other critters from getting into your veggies as well.

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Both chicken wire and hardware cloth will be effective in keeping away the chickens, as they rarely allow for openings large enough for a chicken to go through. Again, if a chicken can’t easily go through the wire fencing, they will likely turn away to find somewhere else to forage.

Reducing Dust Baths in the Garden

Another reason why chickens often invade gardens is to dust bathe. Any exposed soil around the yard might as well be an open invitation for your chickens to start digging.

To eliminate your garden being used for dust bathing:

  1. Cover any unused area with bricks, stones, or gravel. These will not only keep your chickens out, but will also make for great paths through your garden. Use larger stones or landscape fabric over gravel, as your chickens are still likely to dig around in smaller stones, but gravel will do just fine in smaller areas
  2. Grow weeds. Letting weeds grow rampant in your garden might be difficult if you like having your gardens looking pristine, but they provide the benefit of covering up areas that might otherwise be perfect for a dust bath. Weeds also can act as an extra barrier surrounding your plants, as chickens might first peck at them before eating any of your valuable veggies.
  3. Install motion-sensor sprinklers. Most chickens dislike being sprayed with water, so if you set up a sprinkler that goes off when the chickens come into the garden, they will learn to stay far away from the sprinkler systems.

Plants that Repel Chickens

Chickens react to scents differently than we do. What we might find to be a pleasant fragrance might actually turn away chickens. So as you’re planting your herbs and flowers, select a few that you know chickens won’t like:

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HerbsPeppermint, spearmint, chives, safe, lavender, and rosemary are a few herbs that chickens are known to dislike. You’ll also be able to put these herbs to culinary use, so they will fit right in with the rest of your veggies.
FlowersMarigolds, sunflowers, and calendula also have a fragrance that your chickens won’t like, and they will add a lovely pop of color to your garden. Sprinkling your garden with essential oils from these flowers or herbs will ensure these scents are strong enough for the chickens to smell.
CitrusCitrus juice and rinds are also perfect for repelling chickens. Place the leftover peels of oranges, lemons, or limes around the edge of your garden is an easy and effective way to keep the chickens out. Make sure to reapply essential oils and citrus juice after heavy rainfall, as most of the scents will likely have been washed away.

Make Your Chickens Their Own Garden

Creating another garden in your chicken run that is close to your coop is a great way to keep them from wandering into your primary garden. To ensure that your flock grows to prefer their garden over yours, plants that you know they prefer and are easy to grow:

Leafy greensLettuce, spinach, chard and kale
VegetablesCucumbers and green beans
FruitsBlueberry, raspberry and blackberry

Small bushes will also help provide shade for them to rest under, and having areas kept open for dust baths is another great way to attract chickens to their garden.

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Free Range Supervision

If you intend on having free-range chickens, you should limit when your flock free ranges to times when you are available to keep an eye on them. If you only have a couple of hours of time each day to be outside, it is best to have your flock free range while you are also out in the yard.

Chickens will learn through conditioning to not go into the garden if you discipline them when they do. Confidently shoo away chicken raiders as they come into your veggie patch, and your flock will gradually learn that they are not welcome in your garden.

flock of hens in garden
Chickens need supervision to ensure they’re not pecking at your best plants

Many chicken keepers recommend free-ranging in the evening as chickens tend to be less excitable later in the day, and are usually easier to chase away from your garden areas. Your flock might even be more interested in staying closer to their chicken coop anyways as the sun is setting. 

Finding a sense of harmony between your garden and your chickens will make the act of caring for them both so much easier for you. Building fencing, putting in ground cover, and planting fragrant herbs are all great ways of adding value to your garden that will also keep your chickens out. 

At the same time, having a separate chicken garden and being able to supervise your flock will make certain that your chickens steer clear of your garden. Training chickens does take time and patience, but the reward of having a safe garden makes it worth all of the effort.


Raised in Wisconsin, Leland has spent most of his life adjacent to the rich farmlands of the Midwest. He has visited many farms while exploring his home state, which eventually led him to work directly with farmers on a variety of projects. Between building furniture with Amish-milled wood and helping a local farmer construct a greenhouse, Leland developed a deep interest in homesteading and wants to one day have farmland of his own. Leland is able to combine his love of writing and recent passion for agriculture by writing articles focused on a variety of aspects of farming and homesteading.

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