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Digital Subscriptions > Chickens > Urban Chickens 2019 > Chickens in the Garden

Chickens in the Garden

Chickens and gardens aren’t a match made in heaven, but they can coexist and even benefit from each other.

Dozens of recipes pair rosemary with chicken. That’s why it strikes Nina Ronstadt as funny that her chickens won’t touch the stuff. Rosemary is one of the few plant varieties at Ronstadt’s Point Loma, Calif., home that her small flock hasn’t bothered or destroyed. Before getting chickens, Ronstadt (a chicken keeper and garden blogger at recalls seeing several books and magazines with beautiful pictures of chickens in gardens. “It makes it look like having chickens in the garden is going to be all golden and great,” she says. “But it’s not quite that easy.”

Lisa Steele, author of Fresh Eggs Daily: Raising happy, healthy chickens … naturally (St. Lynn’s Press, 2013), laughs at pictures of chickens on beautiful green lawns. “They must have just put the chickens there about five minutes earlier,” she says. “Chickens scratch the roots out, so grass doesn’t stand a chance.” Steele, of Sufolk, Va., lets her chickens free-range on a limited basis — typically a couple of hours before dark. Part-time freeranging allows gardeners more control and gives chickens less time to get into areas where you don’t want them.

On my family’s single acre in Southern California, our small lock free-ranges all day. There’s no formal lawn but lots of flowering plants, shrubbery, ornamental and fruiting trees, plus vegetables and herbs. Like many poultry keepers, we’ve found a way to compromise that keeps us, and our chickens, happy.

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Urban Chickens 2019, Best Breeds for Small Space Living, Diet option for a City Flock, Free Range in your Yard, Your guide to backyard sustainability, And More.......