Keeping chickens is a rewarding and enjoyable experience.
You get eggs and entertainment from their quirky personalities.
Many people want to keep a backyard flock but are worried about the impact it may have on their hard-earned landscaping.
This leads many potential chicken keepers to wonder if chickens will ruin their lawn and grass.
Chickens will ruin lawns and grass if not provided ample space. There are ways to prevent chickens from turning green grass into a dead brown patch. Allowing them to free-range and have ample space helps reduce damage, and allowing the grass to rest and grow longer helps protect lawns from chickens.
Chickens love to roam and scratch about on grass and lawns.
Sometimes this behavior is destructive.
Let’s look into whether or not chickens will ruin lawns and grass and the steps to take to prevent it.
Do Chickens Destroy Lawns and Grass?
Fresh grass is tempting for chickens to peck, scratch at, and eat.
While grass isn’t the main part of a balanced diet for chickens, it certainly makes an excellent snack.
Allowing your flock to roam the yard regularly may cause chicken destruction of the lawn and grass.
Some backyard chicken keepers designate chicken spaces to keep the damage contained.
This is also important to protect garden beds and food crops from the constant and curious pecking.
When considering getting a backyard flock, wondering whether chickens will destroy the lawn is one of the most common questions people have.
If backyard chickens are left to roam freely on the same patch of grass, there will be damage.
The lack of space and buildup of chicken poop will lead to a negative impact caused by the antics of chickens.
Luckily, there are some easy ways to prevent this from occurring.
How Do Chickens Destroy Lawns?
Letting your egg-laying or meat chickens roam outside of the coop may seem harmless at first.
However, once they are outside of the chicken wire, there is a significant risk to the health of your lawn.
High Nitrogen Levels In Chicken Coop
The chicken waste buildup is a serious concern for lawns.
The high nitrogen content in chicken waste will burn and kill the grass if too much accumulates.
Letting chickens on grass is fine so long as the chickens have enough space to dilute the amount of nitrogen accumulating on the grass.
Depending on your soil composition, the walking about of a flock of backyard chickens may compact the soil and destroy the lawn.
Grass roots need air and water to exist healthily and grow. If you notice your green grass dying off, it may be from the soil compaction caused by chickens on the grass.
This is especially common in clay soils as they are easily compacted.
Creating Dust Baths
Domestic chickens love to take dust baths.
They will make one themselves if they don’t have one readily accessible.
If the flock has access to grass, they will rip up a patch of ground to get the dirt underneath.
Allowing your flock to free range on grass will inevitably lead to the formation of a few bald patches for dust baths unless you take action.
Chicken feed is the biggest part of a flock’s diet.
However, they still love to munch on grass when given a chance.
For this reason, it’s important for chicken owners to never use plastic grass or artificial grass on the chicken pasture.
They may attempt to eat it, leading to serious health issues.
Related Reading: Chickens eating grass seed (and what to do about it)
Quick Tips For Preventing Chickens From Ruining Grass
Knowing how chickens destroy lawns allows chicken owners to take action to prevent it.
Luckily, there are some easy tips and tricks for having a beautiful lawn while still letting your backyard flock enjoy it.
Allow Ample Space
Having ample space is the most important aspect of keeping your lawn healthy while chickens roam on it.
Having too few square feet per bird may most likely be the culprit behind your dying lawn.
More space dilutes the negative effects of chicken poop accumulation.
It also spreads out the destruction caused by soil compaction and grass-eating.
Related: How far will chickens roam?
Limit Your Flock Size
Similarly, it is important to ensure you have ample space for your flock.
Having a dozen birds in a small yard doesn’t give your lawn much fighting chance.
Work with what you have, even if it means having a smaller flock than you may have hoped for.
Allow Grass To Rest
Letting your grass rest for a day or two each week allows time for the lawn to recoup.
Resting the grass means keeping the flock off it from time to time, so it isn’t constantly being subject to the antics of chickens.
Let Grass Grow Longer
Letting grass grow long helps protect it against chickens.
Longer grass tends to be more durable and stronger than shorter grass.
Provide Designated Areas For Dust and Mud Baths
Chickens love to take dust and mud baths.
They will make one for themselves if they don’t have easy access to one.
To prevent this, create a dust bath for your chickens, so they aren’t tempted to pull up the grass and make their own by digging a hole and adding dust.
Some people add diatomaceous earth like this to the dust bath to help with fleas and parasites.
Don’t Collect Grass Clippings When Mowing
When you mow the lawn, leave behind the grass clippings.
Chickens are opportunistic and will eat whatever is easiest to grab.
Eating the cut grass clippings makes them less likely to destroy the growing grass.
Invest In A Chicken Tractor
One way to rotate the ground your chickens roam on is using a chicken tractor (see link on Amazon).
Chicken tractors have wheels and even a coop for shelter.
The wheels allow you to move the coop, run and flock around the yard, so no single part of your lawn gets destroyed.
With a chicken tractor, backyard chicken keepers can avoid damaged or problematic ground areas and dilute the negative impact of chickens on the lawn.