Having chickens in your backyard is not exactly the easiest way to have a beautiful backyard. They love to scratch and peck, make dust bathing areas, and poop on the back porch. They also love to eat new seedlings and anything that has been freshly planted is prime for scratching (and, often, destroying) in the search for some good worms and bugs.
But with a little work, you can still have a nice area to hang out with your roaming little pocket raptors. Just spray the poop with a hose (no need to pick it up as it is free fertilizer), and encourage an area that you wouldn’t mind being a dust bath. There are also a few strong plants that can survive the onslaught of super hot fertilizer (chicken poop), and lots of disruptions. In fact, I would say if these plants can survive with chickens around, they are probably some of the most hardy plants around. And they are pretty too!
Irises are very hardy plants and they look really pretty even when they are not in bloom. The spikes create a sort of tropical background. Then when the flowers bloom, it’s even more beautiful. Because they grow in clumps, it is difficult for the chickens to get in there and destroy them. When they spread and get too overgrown, you can separate the root rhizomes and plant them in new areas. I recommend planting them pretty close together to create the chicken deterrent effect.
Roses are both gorgeously fragrant and chicken-hardy. Because of their thorns, they are not messed with by the chickens.We have about 8 rose bushes in the backyard!
Spreading plants like mint and daisies also do pretty well around chickens. Our comfrey plants are virtually unkillable, so if you like comfrey for its composting benefits and bumblebees, that’s another great choice. Raspberries, strawberries and other spreading plants that provide food also work, but you have to keep the chickens from eating the fruit! And surprisingly enough, regular old grass does remarkably well with chickens as long as you keep the number of chickens to a manageable number.
So what shouldn’t you plant around chickens? Well, pretty much any tender, sensitive or rare plant that you would hate to see stepped on, pecked at or scratched up. For example, our annuals like petunias and marigolds stay on our front porch in containers. Others that haven’t done too well around the chickens have been tulips, daffodils, mums and salvias. Some plants you can cultivate with the chickens in mind. For example, hostas are a little sensitive, but can be planted next to a house wall or corner where the chickens don’t have quite the access to scratching them. Or if you really want a sensitive-type plant, you can put chicken wire near it when it is young or first transplanted and then remove it once they grow full-size. As long as it’s not tasty to the chickens, they will leave most full size plants and trees alone.