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on February 20, 2013
This book has pretty pictures; that is the book's only positive trait. The book has numerous flaws, which have been covered by other reviewers. However, other reviewers haven't discussed the problem I had with this book: a severe lack of focus.

Instead of focusing on the book's supposed subject--"How to Create a Beautiful Chicken-Friendly Yard"-- the author apparently decided she would rather superficially talk about many, MANY other topics. They include:

1. Coop design (lots of pretty pictures, only one "how to do this" plan with measurements)
2. Predator descriptions and deterrent methods (Mostly accurate info, but why is this discussed in a garden design book?)
3. How to pick chicken breeds (In every basic chicken keeping book in the world--why waste valuable space in this supposedly specialized book with a rehash of that same information??)
4. How to clip a chicken's wings, etc. (What does this have to do with garden design? The author may have her reasons, but doesn't explain them.)
5. A brief rundown of other poultry types, including turkeys, geese, and ducks. (Huh?? Why are ducks discussed in a book that is supposed to be about chickens??)
6. She wraps up the book by listing common chicken diseases and parasites. (?!?)

I have had my chickens for almost 2 years and own many basic chicken keeping books; I didn't need another one. What I DID need was tips on how to incorporate my chickens into a garden--what plants to avoid, what plants they'd love, what plants would benefit from the extra nitrogen from chicken poop. Unfortunately, there is very little information of this sort included in the book, and what little there is is VERY difficult to find, even if using the index.

In addition to all the unnecessary and unwanted basic chicken keeping advice, the author decided to include basic gardening and composting advice--again, losing focus of what this book is supposed to be about. This book reminds me of a high school freshman's first English essay: cluttered, unfocused, and ultimately unhelpful.

If you're actually interested in what the book claims to be about--successfully incorporating poultry into a holistic garden design--a better choice would be "The Small Scale Poultry Flock", by Harvey Ussery.

However, if you're just interested in a cute coffee table book, I suppose this may fit your needs.
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on November 27, 2017
My girls tore up the backyard landscaping, so I quarrantined them in their run. Well, that just produced stressed chickens and the egg laying stopped immediately. This book has such great advice! I'm going to follow it and I know, with the help of ideas and commonsense advice from this book, my girls can live a happy life, running free through my gardens and helping me with the most dreaded chores! Bottom line, they're out of the coop, happily gobbling up garden pests and turning over the dirt for me, in preparation for spring planting. Started laying again as soon as they were sprung. I highly recommend buying this book, especially for beginning chicken keepers as I am. It answered so many questions that I had about their care, plus give such great advice on laying out a garden, and great ideas for how to keep them out of the landscaping you want them to stay away from. Plus, the photos are beautiful, the book is an easy read, and the advice simple to follow.
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on April 22, 2012
Free-Range Chicken Gardens has stunning illustrations that are worth the price of the book, but the text is nearly useless for homesteaders. The author's focus is on mixing chickens with ornamental gardens, and her brief forays into discussing chickens and vegetables leave a lot to be desired. Mostly, she just tells you to fence your flock out of the vegetable garden when there are seedlings or ripening fruit present (which is most of the time if you have an intensive garden of edibles.) She mentions not giving tomatoes and other edibles as treats to your flock if you don't want the chickens to learn to eat these goodies off the vine --- I can tell you from experience that chickens never given tomatoes as treats *still* find the garden tomatoes in short order if let out of their pastures.

It's also a bit tough to tell which of the plants the author says work well with chickens are ones she's actually tried. In several places, it sounds like she's just repeating conventional wisdom, and from my own chicken experiments, I've discovered that conventional wisdom is often wrong. I would have found it much more helpful if the author had made a point of distinguishing between facts she was reporting from personal experience and those she'd just read.

The useful side of the book is the way it considers the garden as an entire ecosystem. She does a good job of telling you which permaculture layers work well with chickens (the tall ones) and which don't (shallow-rooted shrubs, annuals, and herbaceous perennials in the spring). And, as I said before, the photos are beautiful if you want a coffee table book.
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I love to look through decorating books and magazines, gardening books and magazines, chicken books (yeah, I've even read a few chicken magazines too--for reals) and I tend to feel them "worth it" when I take away a few ideas. I expected the same from this having felt it a novel idea to have a beautiful chicken-friendly yard (seeing as how I'm nothing short of a chicken activist I'm so chicken friendly) I was wowed. I came away with SO much more than a few ideas.

This is not about simply making a yard friendly for hens. This is about having a gorgeous yard, with plants hens don't eat (and many they can!) that give your yard beauty and them shelter, having a yard that is stunning with beautiful coops, having a yard that is charming rather than barren...

This is not one family's ideas of how to combine free-range chickens, natural fertilizer, organic pest control, soil aeration, fresh eggs if ya want those too, and thriving gardens...this is actually pages and pages of photos and ideas of many homes, yards, and gardens that are easy to recreate and are truly a uptopia for both owner and the winged who share it. (And by "free range" I do not mean no coop. That would be cruel and the hens would likely not live a week. Night predators such as raccoons etc are no match for a sleeping hen and hens know this so at dusk each night they put themselves to bed in your coop and wait for you to lock the door. And they hate rain. Whether part-time free-range and safely tucked away at night, or free-range inside a pretty run full-time, this still means daytime only of course)

It's not easy to have a yard you want to wander through in beauty and hens who love to nibble sharing it. My side yard proves it. They love to hide under and not eat the Texas sage but I have barren areas of things they found far more palatable. And this isn't about someone who wants their chickens to wander and not care for them...it shows beautiful chicken runs, it has truly valid advice on health and predators, and the very real danger of cedar few still know about that has been proven, and how to keep your hens protected in your yard whether truly free range all day and in a coop at night, or in a large run-- just thoroughly researched facts right along with hundreds of photos.

And I must say, I was convinced I'd built the most gorgeous and spacious run on the planet earth until I realized some in this book had me totally beat! I literally searched the internet for months trying to find ideas for coops and runs that looked pretty in the yard and found NO runs that I liked so I designed my own and I never thought anyone could integrate chicken living in an urban area better, but they did--in both urban and suburban and country. These yards are simple to do but breathtaking, coops, runs, plants and all!

While I thought I'd have a few good "takeaways" and ideas, I literally spent evenings combing through this and marking pages. I want a gorgeous yard but I want well protected hens, gorgeous coops that don't scream "farm", and the combo of the two that make anyone want to wander through a yard doubly charming by having all of the above (charming hens meet yard and garden and human utopia)

This book was on my "suggested" page from Amazon based upon other books I'd bought and, with only one other review at the time I bought it, I simply did not expect a book so thorough and full of great READING in addition to photos that make me want to visit the garden center, plan out a design, mark off paths, and enjoy the fact that it tells me how to easily do it all--even with diagrams and proper plant species for your area.

And yes, you can even have a veggie garden and hens that roam it!

And, should you know nothing about chickens, it even tells you great ones to pick-- And where to find everything else in the book too as far as seeds, nurseries, coops, (many of these coops are personally designed but easy to copy) other shelters etc

I especially loved one idea that was like an A-style frame on the ground with feeders on both sides (trough style, painted white) that the chickens could climb up but was perfect shelter from the sun and predators underneath yet attractive. I have two adirondack chairs that have horizontal slats that are painted bright colors the chickens adore and look cute in the yard...they climb up the foot rest base and sit all together on the chairs and arms and hide underneath...this was right along those lines. (I bought a kit for the chairs at Hobby Lobby in a box dirt cheap)

Fortunately the silkies were listed as a good suggested home garden hen because I consider them the best little beings God ever put a beak on.

Have kids and pets? It even suggests how to integrate them all...um, not meaning sharing the coop or anything... It should be noted, however, that the #1 predator to chickens is family dogs. Not because they are mean or hungry, but like a dog getting into the trash, sometimes well trained dogs decide to give in to instinct and play or chase. But one clamp on a chicken and it's over for the hen.

There are walkways, gates, ramps, covered areas, flowers, composting bins, how to integrate chicken fertilizer into the garden to make it a circle of giving..., and garden ideas galore.

And the coops! My gosh, my dream coops they are so stunning! I thought MY coop was gorgeous and now I am going to totally redo it.

I totally stumbled upon this while I have no doubt my review makes it sound as though I wrote it myself and I am a pen name...but when I find anything, product or book so well done, I am a raving fan. The information in here will take me a long time to read through but it's all written so lighthearted and there are full color photos throughout...

More importantly, it is all things I saw NOWHERE on the internet and I cannot tell you the hours or weeks or, in all honesty, months I have spent looking.

This is chicken living for today--where they can integrate beautifully with beauty and never be housed cruelly in a tiny box just for egg production again and even make your yard more charming. Who knew there were so many plants that could assist in a charming chicken yard---where plants and hens are safe and gorgeous and you simply want to meander through and drink your coffee there daily. This was my goal for my yard but the vision here was far deeper.

My wheels are turning and my ideas are so greatly enhanced!

it's one of those books you flip through but then can't put down.

Note: Although the book discusses water features which hens like, if you have silkies, keep them away from ANY open water...because they do not have barbs in their feathers, water weighs them down if they enter it and they will drown. :-( If you want something they can cool off in, you can fill a kiddie pool just shallow enough so their feet get wet but they cannot drown. Their drinking bowls should be the ones with just rims sold specifically for this purpose, with no open water. I have personally seen chicken owners dispondant over a drowning.
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on March 15, 2016
I was rather disappointed in it. I wanted more information about what plants that chickens would be more likely to avoid, and better ideas of how to nicely fence the chickens away from fresh beds or plants. She says that chickens will usually leave established plants alone, but I guess I have unusual chickens, as they eat everything in the yard. Also no idea as to how to get the chickens to use just one area as a dust bath instead of having shallow fox holes all over the yard. She essentially says to have raised beds throughout your yard and gravel or similarly paved walkways. I wanted to know how to have my chickens have the lawn to stroll around in without them destroying the flower beds.
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on August 11, 2017
I really like the content but the book itself fell apart while reading it as soon as I got it. There's some issue with the binding, it just cracked right off and the pages fell out. I'm pretty disappointed with that as I like to keep books like this around for reference and I can't even leave this one on the coffee table for guests.
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on June 19, 2016
Excellent. Lots of info. Great pics!
I have learned many things and my own gardens are looking great. Unfortunately every chicken is different, mine seem to still pick on things not high on the "preferred chicken plants list" but those plants I'll keep blocked off. One thing I haven't yet read is how deadly the tall ornamental grasses can be for chickens. It can get wrapped up and cause impacted crops. I now have removed all mine from their garden. Thought I'd mention this.
So enjoy this book!
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on April 15, 2012
Before reading this book I thought I was the only one who worried about landscaping my chicken run ! While I don't free range or allow my flock to roam through our backyard or garden, I DO plant things in their run to attract bugs, provide shade and make the run more aesthetically pleasing. I figure the nicer it looks the more time I will want to spend there - which is beneficial to both me and my chickens.

This book puts all the information I need in one place. No more bookmarking websites of toxic plants, safe plants, etc.

I am in the process of planning my landscaping for this spring and this book has been invaluable in that. Its also a gorgeously photographed book, which makes it a joy to flip through.

Highly recommended for those who free range as well as those who just want to spruce up their run area a bit safely.

Lisa
Fresh Eggs Daily Farm Girl
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on October 23, 2014
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, or any other geographic location with lots of rain, you might find this book useful. But the basic premise is: If you give your chickens a rainforest in which to forage, they won't do too much damage to any one plant. When you live in a Southern California desert, as I do, you just don't have that kind of greenery to work with. And, the only options left are to permit your birds to obliterate your vegetable patch, or keep them in a coop and run. We're building a run, and I sure wish there was more mention in this book on how to landscape in and around a spacious run. There's a little info on that, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped.
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on December 13, 2017
This was one of the first books I got when I first got chickens. The author gives some excellent solutions to keeping chickens and gardens in peaceful harmony!

Su Falcon, author of How I Survived My First Year with Chickens
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