We are about to get baby chicks for the first time. My 2 years old and 4 year old are so excited. We are studying and getting ready. One question. I have a 4ft x 8ft patch of dirt in our chicken area that I am tying to figure out what to do with. I am thinking of planting some drought tolerant grass, or picking up sod, or plugs of some grass. Any thoughts or ideas on what you’d recommend that works as good ground cover for chickens?
Wooo-wheeee! I get so excited when I “meet'” people who are new to getting chickens! It plum makes me so tickled to my toes that you soon know the joys of these wonderful creatures. Y’all are well on your way of becoming bona fide chickenistas! Don’t worry! It’s a great group to be a part of!
If you’ve see photos of chicken coops and runs, you might have noticed that there is usually bare ground / mulch / or soil instead of nice green grass. If there is a chicken area (that is permanent and not a movable tractor) that has grass or a beautiful green ground cover, you can bet it’s either:
A. newly built
B. has no chickens in it
C. is probably a magazine shoot that has been hollywoodized with some picture-perfect newly laid sod.
Throw some chickens into the coop, give it about a couple days – a week at most – and the nice little ground cover that was so pretty will be re-landscaped by the chickens. They’ll add some scratch areas…. some dirtbath holes and generally till the ground cover into the soil. I’d hate to see you go to lots of trouble and money getting something established, only to see it pecked to death.
If you have the room, you can partition the coop into areas and rotation the chickens around and keep reseeding areas with a cheap and quick growing ground cover. Don’t spend money on expensive sods or seeds. Quick growing, cheap ground covers such as clover, buckwheat, vetch, common flax, broadleaf and brassica are the best… plus, it’ll add some good nutrients to your chickens’ diets. Any packaged pasture mix labeled for horses would be pretty safe.
On a positive note for gardeners, if you have pesky bermuda grass or other nasty weed that you have been battling, pen the area in with a temporary coop and let the chickens go to town for a couple of days and — presto, chango! — end of pesky, nasty grass weed!