6 Ways to Protect Your Lawn from Chickens

6 Ways to Protect Your Lawn from Chickens

There’s something comforting about having your own chooks even if you don’t live on a farm.

They make good use of kitchen scraps, eat bugs and weeds, provide free manure for the vegie patch and kids love collecting fresh eggs each day.

But all that pecking, scratching and pooping can damage your lawn if it’s not managed carefully, so we’ve pulled together some suggestions to help you minimise damage from chickens digging up grass.

The Pros and Cons of Backyard Chickens

The Benefits

Chickens can make great pets and their digging and scratching can, in moderation, help keep the soil aerated.

They’re omnivorous and will eat grass – they prefer soft, green grasses – leaves, weeds, lawn clippings and pests such as flying insects, slugs and grubs, even unwary mice.

Chook manure is a free source of organic nutrient-rich fertiliser which can be composted for use in the fruit and vegetable garden.

The Disadvantages

Fresh manure has a high nitrogen content and can burn your lawn if it’s concentrated in a particular area.

Chicken poop also can contain germs that are harmful to children and other pets.

Chooks like to dig holes, especially in summer when they’re looking for a cool spot to rest. They also love a regular dust bath to help keep their feathers clean and free of mites, lice or other parasites.

Protecting Your Lawn from Chickens

Regardless of which came first – the chickens or the lawn – they can happily coexist with a little planning.

We recommend they not be brought straight onto newly-laid turf. It’s better to wait until the grass is fully established and less vulnerable to damage.

Here’s six more ways to protect your lawn:

Start Small

Think carefully about the size of your garden and be realistic about how many chickens it can support.

Hens are territorial, social creatures so it’s best to have more than one, but too many hens will likely destroy your lawn and might well put you offside with the neighbours as well.

Adult hens will each need 1-1.5 square metres of space inside a coop and a similar area in an exterior run. They should be locked up safely at night to avoid attacks from roaming cats, dogs or foxes.

Depending on where you live, many local councils limit the number of chickens that can be kept in urban areas and ban the keeping of roosters.

Stick to the rules and make sure you have the relevant permits, or you might face fines or even have your flock confiscated.

Avoid Waste Build-Up

The high nitrogen levels in chook manure cause the most damage to lawns, burning it if allowed to accumulate.

If you have a fixed pen, it’s pointless trying to keep grass alive inside it, but it will preserve the rest of your lawn from damage.

Allowing the flock to range freely will encourage them to spread their poop more evenly across the yard.

You could also collect large clumps and compost them for use on flower beds or in the vegie patch, or regularly use a hose to dilute the poop and wash it off the leaf blades before it burns.

Let Your Grass Grow

Short grass dries out faster, making it more susceptible to damage from digging and scratching as well as the high nitrogen levels in chook manure.

Longer grass is better protected and mulching lawn clippings instead of picking them up will make it easier for chickens to eat and scratch about without damaging the roots.

DIY Dust Bath

A cat litter tray or similar size box filled with coarse sand will help your hens get the dust bath they need without making a mess of your lawn or garden beds.


If chooks are making too much of a mess of your yard, garden beds or eating out the vegetable patch, fence off the areas you don’t want them to get into.

Temporary wire cages that can be popped over newly-planted areas and ripening fruit and vegetable plants will also help.

Or try laying weldmesh flat on the ground over bare patches of lawn to deter both chickens and dogs from digging there until it has recovered.

Use a Lawn Tractor

A lawn tractor is a portable pen with a wire base that you can move around the yard to give your chooks fresh grass each day.

The wire base stops them from digging up your lawn and moving it daily stops the manure from building up to toxic levels in one spot.

Lawn Chemicals and Chickens DON’T Mix

Many lawn chemicals can sicken or kill pets, including chickens.

Avoid spreading granular fertiliser where your chickens forage or make sure the granules are completely dissolved before letting them back onto those areas.

Always check product labels and observe the safety instructions, warnings and withholding periods.

If you’re not sure whether your lawn will stand up to the rigours of chickens, contact your local turf supplier or garden centre for advice.

To find the right grass type for your situation, use the myhomeTURF Find Your Turf tool. 

Free Lawn Guide

Sign up for our Newsletter to receive your free guide.

View our Privacy policy

Related Articles

When it’s too Hot to Mow Your Lawn!

A healthy lawn provides you and your family with a green, lush and welcoming environment. However, when temperatures rise and the harsh summer sun beats down on your lawn, the ...

Read More

How to Keep Your Grass Green Year Round

There’s nothing quite like a healthy green lawn for lifting the spirits. Indeed, research has found people who are more connected with nature, which includes parks and gardens ...

Read More

Lawn Paint – Is It Good or Bad for Your Lawn?

We’ve all seen them: lawns that usually lose their colour in winter or summer suddenly become an abnormally bright green once the ‘For Sale’ sign is hammered into place. The ...

Read More

Should You Rake Grass Clippings or Leave Them on Your Lawn?

The mowing is done, but the weekend is almost over, and you don’t really have time to rake the grass clippings and take them to the tip before it closes. What do you do? If ...

Read More

Gypsum for your Lawn

Gypsum has a two-pronged approach in terms of looking after your lawn. Also known as Calcium Sulfate, Gypsum, is successfully used to improve lawn soil conditions. It can be ...

Read More
water pooling on lawn.

When to use a soil wetting agent

Your lawn needs just three things to stay healthy and green – sunshine, a balanced diet, and water – but making sure it gets the right amount of each at the right time can be ...

Read More

What are plant growth regulators?

Some people are happy to take their lawns as they come. But if you’re looking for a way to ensure greener, thicker grass, with less mowing, then you might like to consider ...

Read More
Weed in lawn

When to apply pre-emergent herbicides

Rather than waiting until weeds appear in your lawn and before you decide what to do about them, it’s usually best to plan how you’ll manage them ahead of time. Think ...

Read More

What is herbicide?

The simple answer to that question is herbicides are chemicals that kill plants or prevent their seeds from germinating. This can be very handy when it comes to managing weeds ...

Read More

How to apply herbicides correctly

Herbicides are considered the most effective and efficient method of weed control for your lawn. Knowing how and when to apply a herbicide correctly will give you the best ...

Read More