Questions and Answers
I’ve recently started keeping my own chickens. Overall it’s been a fantastic experience, especially for the children. The only thing is… they are destroying my flower beds! Are there any plants I can add to my borders to deter them? It seems cruel not to let them roam the garden freely.
Most plants and shrubs once they have got themselves established and tall enough can survive the attentions of chickens but there are no plants that physically deter chickens only those that chickens prefer not to peck or eat.
It is possible though to create a nice looking border as it is surprising what doesn’t interest them. Annuals like Borage and Nigella work well; for ground cover sedums, feverfew, hypericum, geums and geraniums avoid too much attention and if you add herbs like mint, thyme, oregano, marjoram you are starting to get a diverse and colourful palette to work from. In terms of larger plants, spurges, fuchsia, rudbeckia, alliums and achillea I’ve found survive around chickens. To an extent there is an element of trial and error but if you want to free range your chickens you might need to ‘cage’ your borders at certain times of the year, or when there are newly planted plants, to give them some protection until their roots are established or the new seasons growth has developed.
Answered by Andy Cawthray of ChickenStreet
Andy Cawthray is a gardener & poultry breeder based in Shropshire. An author, blogger and columnist for a wide range of magazines and newspapers including Country Smallholding and The Guardian, he writes, teaches and has presented about chickens and gardening, both on radio and TV. For more information visit www.chickenstreet.co.uk