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Planting a (Nearly) Chicken-Proof Window Box

It can be hard to grow flowers and other plants when you raise chickens, but I have some tips for chicken-proof flower gardening. Learn how to plant a (nearly) chicken-proof window box.

Anyone who raises chickens learns quickly that chickens will pretty much destroy all your landscaping and gardens. They love to scratch up roots looking for seeds and bugs and nibble of flowers, vegetables and leaves. 

But it's still possible to grow pretty flowers - if you use window boxes!

Not only window boxes, but raised bed gardens, containers and planters are all good choices for small gardens when you have chickens. Since chickens usually have their heads down and tails up when they're out free ranging in the yard, even a 6" or 8" tall raised bed can be enough to thwart their efforts to destroy your garden.

But eventually a chicken will look up and discover a whole new area to ravage. So for a more dependable, chicken-proof place to plant your flowers, try window boxes. 

While it's true that a very determined chicken can sometimes flutter and flap her way up to even a window box up high, planting up 4 feet or so in the air will usually be enough to keep your destructive flock out - and your flowers safe.

As you can see, I use all kinds of tricks to try and protect our landscaping including window boxes, planters, and wire cages and cloches.

Planting a (Nearly) Chicken-Proof Window Box

Planting in window boxes is a little different than planting flowers in the ground for several reasons. There are pros and cons to both.

Disadvantages of Planting in Window Boxes

Here are some of the disadvantages of planting in a window box.

  • Window boxes don't hold moisture as well as the ground does.
  • The soil in window boxes heats up and cools down faster than the ground.
  • There's limited space for the plant roots to go.
  • The plants are limited to getting nutrients solely from the potting soil you use in the box.

Benefits of Planting in Window Boxes

But there are also some major benefits to planting in window boxes. 

  • Window boxes deter slugs and grubs, rabbits and other garden pests.
  • Window boxes are easier for older people to plant and maintain because they don't require getting down on your knees.
  • There are going to be far fewer weeds in window boxes, so maintenance is lower.
But obviously, the main benefit of planting in window boxes is that you can pretty much keep your pesky chickens OUT! 

How to Plant a (Nearly) Chicken-Proof Window Box

There are a few things you need to do before you are ready to plant your window box. 

  • First, attach the boxes securely to the side of your coop, house or other outbuilding under the windows.
  • Then, if your boxes are metal or wooden, lining them with plastic to prevent rotting/rusting is a good idea. 
  • You'll want to check your box to be sure there are adequate drainage holes and they aren't blocked. If your boxes don't drain well, your plants will be susceptible to root rot.  
  • Then, you need to create a layer several inches thick on the bottom of the box of small stones or gravel to allow for good drainage. You can also use packing peanuts, small water bottles, wood chips or even plastic egg cartons. The advantage of using styrofoam or plastic is that it keeps it out of a landfill and is also lighter than rocks.

  • Next, fill the planter with potting soil. This season, I've been using Glee Potting Mix and love it. It's  made from HydraFiber, which is a blend of wood and bark fibers from renewable pine sources, and it’s incredibly lightweight, which is a big advantage when you're planting window boxes. 
  • Glee Potting Mix also provides better water absorption which is also important when you're planting in window boxes, planters or raised beds since the plants can't absorb moisture from the ground.
  •  And lastly, HydraFiber means Glee’s mix is naturally aerated and doesn’t use those little white balls of perlite, so if your pesky chickens DO manage to get into your window boxes, there are no little white pieces in there for them to pick out.

  • Now it's time to plant! Choose a pretty mix of flowering plants and even herbs to create beautiful bursts of color and texture. Be sure to consider the various plants sunlight and watering needs to choose plants that will work well together in the same container. Your local greenhouse or nursery should have plenty of different plants to choose from that will grow well in your climate.

  • Don't forget to include some taller elements in the back, colorful blooms as well as trailing plants or elements that spill down the front of the box. You may have heard the phrase "Thrill Fill Spill" in relation to planting containers. The same applies to windowboxes. You want an exciting mix of different types of plants.

Good Choices of Plants for a (Nearly) Chicken-Proof Window Box

Here are some suggestions for flowers that do well in windox boxes. 

Since we're hoping your chickens won't get into them, it's not as important to stay away from potentially harmful plants, but it's always a good idea to check the list of toxic plants, as well as learn what's safe around chickens when ever you're choosing what to grow. 

  • Begonias
  • Geranium
  • Impatiens
  • Kale
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm
  • Marigold 
  • Mint
  • Nasturtium
  • Oregano
  • Pansies
  • Petunias
  • Pineapple sage
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Salvia
  • Sweet Potato Vine
  • Thyme
  • Zinnias

  • Finally, give your window boxes a good watering... and check that the soil stays moist, watering as needed in between rain storms. It's a good idea to water your windowboxes every day for the first few days if rain isn't in the forecast. 
  • As I mentioned earlier, Glee Potting Mix is better at water absorption, and it can hold onto water longer below the surface. So be sure to check a couple inches down, because it might look dry on top, but it can still be feeding your roots just under the surface. 
  • And don't forget to regularly deadhead your blossoms so the plants keep producing new blooms all season long! 
Finally, congratulate yourself for finally outsmarting your hens!

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Disclaimer: I was provided product and additional compensation by Glee Potting Mix for this article, but all opinions are 100% my own and not influenced by any compensation received.

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