Chickens in the Garden

If you already have chickens in the garden or are thinking about getting some, here are some points to consider.

Advantages of Chickens in the Garden

Chickens in the garden make wonderful tillers – By scratching and eating practically all vegetation, chickens make great tillers.  Not only do they turn cover crops and clear new garden ground of any sod, they add chicken manure fertilizer directly to the garden soil as they till.

Chickens Create Compost – they are a great nitrogen source for a compost pile. Cleaning out the chicken coop will provide nutrient-rich manure and bedding material that you can compost to supplement the soil in your garden.

As automatic fertilizers – The chickens nitrogen levels in manure isn’t just great for compost, it’s the key ingredient to fertilizing our gardens. Based on the eight pounds one chicken will poop in a month, the average chicken will extract about a quarter pound a day!

Chickens Are Great Pest Control –  Chickens eat large numbers of  beetles, assorted bugs, slugs, grubs, and many other pests. Even a small flock of healthy chickens will serve as pest control to reduce the levels of detrimental insect pests. This variety in their diet also makes fresh eggs better

As mulch spreaders – Chickens can level a pile of leaves in under a day.

As garbage disposals – Instead of throwing all the table left overs into the trash feed it to your chickens. Chickens are omnivores, like us, and will eat practically everything we can and more!

As orchard sanitizers – One chicken can debug an entire fruit tree within an hour, breaking the life cycle of pests and disease. With some strategic timing, chickens can significantly boost orchard production!

Some Cautionary Advice

And now for some cautionary advice from Justin Rhodes of Abundant Permaculture to stop the chickens destroying your whole garden.

Allow the chickens in the garden a half hour to an hour before they go to their coop. They’ll go in for a little bit and naturally leave around dusk to go home.

Supervised visits. If you have a small garden and/or small flock you could do supervised visits for short periods of times. That means you stand there and protect your goodies.

If you have a small garden, you could actually protect your individual plants with chicken wire or something similar. That way your chickens can have access all the time and would even help you with the weeds.


– Chickens want the garden bugs more than they want the garden produce. The key here, is only giving them enough time to get the bugs. If you leave them in too long they get all the bugs and start for the veggies.

– This is not something you have to do everyday. I’d say it’s better to do this weekly, or as needed.

-Young plants and young gardens are especially vulnerable to chickens. It’s also possible that the young plants haven’t yet attracted the bugs. Be extra careful when letting chickens near the young plants.

Haven’t got the space right now? If you live in the Chicago or Denver areas consider giving us a call for some free advice how we can help you make the required space. This could be by removing a swimming pool or by using our landscape design services.

With thanks to Jill Wagner and The Prairie Homestead



Perennial design

Perennial design – plan it and almost forget it!

With a well planned perennial design your garden is filled with hardy perennials that come back each year needing little more than the occasional tidying up.

As part of the design one would mix course texture, fine texture, columnar and spreading shaped varieties. Add to this a few flowering plants that look great in bloom and when they start looking a bit shabby afterwards they will be complimented by the others during their period of good form, texture and foliage color.

Here are some pointers to keep in mind when considering a perennial design.

  • Have a plan
  • Match your perennial design with the style of your home
  • Scale in proportion to your house
  • What kind of colors do you like
  • Location, location, location put the right plant in the right place
  • Be aware of plant heights
  • Be aware of bloom times
  • Plan for future growth
  • Think about incorporating Xeriscaping

To quote from the pages of the New Perennialist 

“The New Perennial movement in naturalistic planting design continues to creep, climb, bloom, and seed its way around the civilized world all the way from Scandinavia and Eastern Europe to Canada, the U.S., South America, China, New Zealand, and beyond.

In every pocket, there’s a growing convergence of design, ecology, and architecture along with a deepening sense of what is possible and why it matters more than ever before (i.e. the lopsided battle to restore quality of life for all species on the home planet.)

The core mantra of the movement remains the same: to plan, design, grow and sustain plant-driven garden environments for a multi-layered, year-round spectacle that feeds our souls, reconnects us to the natural world, and nurtures biodiversity all in one.”

Although we use the word new above, perennial design actually started way back in the 1800’s by William Robinson who was an Irish practical gardener. He advocated more natural and less formal-looking plantings of hardy perennials, shrubs, and climbers. Modern gardening practices first introduced by William Robinson include: using alpine plants in rock gardens; dense plantings of perennials and ground covers that expose no bare soil, use of hardy perennials and native plants and large plantings of perennials in natural-looking surrounds.

Sound too much too tackle yourself? Make use of our extensive landscape architecture knowledge to assist you with the planning and implementation of your ideal garden.

With locations in both Chicago and Denver we are always ready to hear from you.


Natural stone retaining wall

What is a natural stone retaining wall?

To answer that we first need to take a look at what retaining walls are in general.

A retaining wall is a structure that holds or retains soil behind it. There are many types of materials that can be used to create retaining walls.  Materials include concrete blocks, poured concrete, treated timbers, rocks or boulders. Some are easy to use, others have a shorter life span, but all can retain soil. Some are simply utilitarian while others can improve on aesthetics as well.  By building a natural stone retaining wall, you can at the same time support sloping land and beautify your landscape as well.

Some of the most common landscaping walls you see today are created with natural stone. Natural stone is such a popular choice due to its natural and elegant appearance. Although it is more expensive than some other wall options, the beauty of it may be worthwhile to those who are set on creating an inviting outdoor living space.

Depending on the natural stone materials that you choose to use, the stones could be small, they could be flat, they could be thick and they could even be boulder size and come in different colors. The best materials for a natural stone retaining wall will depend on the type of retaining wall that you want to build, the amount of space you have to build it and the type of architecture of the home itself.  See some examples from Benson Stone Company and some additional material choices at High Plains Stone.

Natural stones are more expensive, and can be more labor intensive to set correctly. They are best used for shorter and narrower sections of retaining walls to maximize stability. Similar to its concrete counterpart, natural stone retaining walls need proper drainage capabilities to ensure its structural stability over time.

Conserve water through the use of Xeriscaping, read about it here.

While it’s possible to tackle this as a DIY project, there are many important factors that need to be considered.  These include material selection, height of the wall, foundation, back fill,and leveling to name but a few. Unless you have some experience it’s best left to hardscape professionals to do the job properly.

If you live in the Denver or Chicago areas and have recently had your pool removed , had some excavating work done or any other reason why you may want a retaining wall then contact us about your natural stone retaining wall options.