Nothing more frustrating to watch your beloved flowers get all torn up from the constant scratching of hens. I’ve had these feathered friends for decades, and these are 8 proven tips that work to protect flowers from chickens!
8 Proven Tips to Protect Flowers From Chickens
1. Use fencing and wire
This is the obvious way to protect flowers from chickens. Still, if you’re not too excited with the thought of putting up a lot (or even a little) of a fence around an entire garden or flower bed, there are alternatives.
I will have to say that having an entire fence around a vegetable garden is so helpful, though, and I loved when we had ours!
We put it up to keep the neighbor’s llamas and goats out of, though, as they used to always end up in it. But it worked for the chickens too, and it was great.
I noticed that they don’t harm it that much now that our garden is moved and without a fence. They will, however, tear up delicate or low flowers with their constant scratching and foraging.
Over the many years of having chickens, I’ve learned that there are just some plants I can not have unless I put a small wire cage around the plant.
This works wonders!
I’ll do the same for a seedling or otherwise tender plant that needs protection until it grows up. Some of my plants have earned that cut-to-size wire fence around them for life because I know my chickens well.
I usually cut it in half, so it’s just a foot or so high, and I always leave the “spikes” at the bottom to insert them into the ground.
This works great, and the wires are obviously reusable!
I mean, you could put a fence around your entire flower gardens as well to protect flowers from chickens, but I don’t want to do that.
You can also use chicken wire or any other kind of gauged wire you have on hand!
2. Use (a lot of) mulch
I have found that my chickens do not like scratching in a lot of mulch most of the time. Maybe it’s the kind I have, I don’t know, but when I apply my fresh mulch in the spring, they seem to (mostly) stay out of the flower beds.
I use the free mulch that my local township offers, and it consists of pine needles and chewed-up pieces of wood. It’s great! I put at least 2-3″ of it in the beds, so they must not like that amount.
I notice towards the end of the season, they’ll occasionally scratch around in it again, but that’s ok. They also forage a lot in the gardens in early spring before adding more mulch, so if you don’t want that, add your mulch earlier.
I have to wait until things start growing, as I sometimes forget where I plant things. 🙂
So besides the obvious great reasons to use mulch in your gardens, it also can protect flowers from chickens!
I have found that a couple of well-placed garden decorations will keep my chickens from scratching between plants. This, of course, protects those plants from accidental, nearby chicken feet foraging the area.
You really don’t have to spend a lot of money or buy big, gaudy decorations either. I have found that a few medium-sized, pretty rocks will do the trick.
I also have a couple cute garden stakes with a dragonfly or hummingbird on top, and those work well. You could use those garden globes, solar lights, birdbaths, or any other decoration that you like.
My aunt gave me this small cement bunny a couple of years ago. Having that strategically placed between plants has protected said plants!
You can also be wallet-friendly and find items at garage or yard sales. A fun way to protect flowers from chickens!
4. Keep sensitive plants in planters
There are a few varieties of flowers that I would love to have. Still, I know they are too delicate and would be completely torn up by unsuspecting chicken feet.
Therefore, I have opted to not purchase them.
There are a few varieties I can not resist, though, so I have opted to plant them in planters or containers. This has worked great to protect flowers from chickens.
Most of my annuals go in containers anyway, so this is an easy fix. However, if you really want a delicate perennial that you don’t want a fence around, nor do you want it ripped up by foraging chickens, I suggest a tall planter, hanging basket, or flower box.
Make sure the box is high enough where they won’t simply jump up there and ruin them anyway, but I have found that even a few inches off the ground seem to keep my hens from jumping up.
A word on perennials – if you have super harsh, freezing winters, you may have to protect these planters by bringing them in a garage or shed during the season. Not being in the ground may be cold enough for the roots to kill them.
5. Use herbs or plant “hedges”
Protect flowers from chickens by placing plants around them that they don’t usually like to eat. Or, place a circle of smaller flowers around them like marigolds, as they seldom will trample through or try to jump over them, especially if there’s not enough room on the other side.
Other flowers you can try are:
- Four O’Clocks
- Bee Balm
As with people, all chickens seem to have their likes and dislikes, so these may or may not work.
Some people have luck with planting certain herbs around their plants to protect flowers from chickens. These include:
- Lemon balm
- Sweet Woodruff
Again, these may or may not work for your flock of hens, but these are the popular ones. I HAVE found, though, that chickens will not bully their way through a tight circle of plants nor jump over them. So creating a type of plant barrier could very well protect flowers from chickens.
6. Keep “goodies” away from flower gardens
I don’t know about you, but we often throw food scraps like watermelon rinds and veggie trimmings out the door for the chickens to eat.
It would be counterproductive if we threw these scraps in my flower beds! We make sure we throw them further into the yard, yet not too far in the middle where they feel threatened by the open space.
The same goes for areas like bare ground where chickens like to sunbathe and dust-bathe. Keep those areas away from your gardens as well. Even bowls of water I keep near their coop or our barn, so they never have to venture through a garden to get to it.
Small steps that will protect flowers from chickens in the long run as they learn their routines in your yard.
7. Spices or citrus?
I’m sure you’ve also heard of putting spices around the perimeter of the flowers you are wanting to protect. This may work for a small area, but it may be a lot of work and a little pricey for the more extensive gardens.
Spices said to help deter chickens are:
- Black pepper
- Cayenne pepper
- Curry powder
The theory behind doing this is the pungent smell will cause your wandering chickens to avoid the area. Or, if they DO go across the “spice line,” it will give their feet a tingling sensation (without harming them), making them want to avoid the area in the future.
I have not tried spices, but if you have a small area, it’s worth trying if you don’t want to try the other tips.
As far as citrus, it’s said that putting citrus peels around your gardens will also protect flowers from chickens, but I have yet to find that works here.
I have not tried this method, but I have thrown out older oranges cut in half only to find the chickens happily cleaning them out right down to the rind. I have not tried lemons or limes.
8. Monitor your flock
Monitoring your flock is excellent if you do not feel like implementing any of the previous steps.
To do this, keep them locked up in a generously spacious chicken yard unless you’re home to watch them. This way, you can protect your flowers from chickens by gently keeping them out of your gardens.
To do this, you can gently spray them with water or simply say no and walk them out. I would advise against throwing things at them as they could get injured this way.
Whatever way you choose to deter them from your gardens, please do so with utmost respect and gentleness. They are only being a chicken and have no idea they are destroying our precious flowers! 🙂
Oh and speaking of flock, you can also have a smaller flock of chickens. The smaller the flock, the fewer hens to forage in your flower beds.
Out of all of these tips, I find it very easy to incorporate my favorite methods listed here to protect flowers from chickens. It works 90% of the time, I would say, as nothing is 100% chicken-proof except a complete fence or keeping them locked up.
I do enjoy having a small flock of chickens running around, so I’ve learned to do my best and enjoy it all! 🙂
I hope you’ve found this helpful! Do you have any other chicken-friendly tips to add to this? Please comment below!