Make It Your Own: Richard and Ellen’s “Secret Layer,” Vista, California

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This spacious California chicken coop was built using The Garden Coop walk-in coop plans.

Richard and Ellen shared several pictures of their Garden Coop build along with notes about how they customized it for their California backyard. The rest of the post comes from them. . .

We just finished construction of a slightly modified Garden Coop, and we love it (as do our hens). Here are some of the changes we made:

Trapdoor in hen house floor

Lift up the trap door and brush the soiled bedding through the floor of the henhouse.I altered the floor a bit. Effectively, we made a trapdoor so that we could sweep henhouse bedding out as needed. If I were doing it again, I’d make the trapdoor a bit deeper (extending further back from the henhouse access door). As it is, it’s not as helpful as it might be. However, my younger son loves it — it’s a secret door!

Reclaimed henhouse siding

Old fence boards with a fresh coat of stain make the perfect siding for your backyard chicken coop.We had recently replaced some rotted sections of the yard fence (visible behind the coop), and had some of the redwood fence boards left over. I went through it and determined which pieces were free of termites, cut them to size, and used them for some of the siding (they are the dark-colored boards).

For the rest, I bought 5 1/2″ cedar fence pickets, cut to size, and stained them with weatherproofing stain. I had used cedar-toned stain for the rest of the coop, and had some left over, so I used that for some of the boards. The others were stained with some leftover redwood-toned stain.

I used some of the dog-eared tops for the siding on the nesting boxes, which gave the ends a neat triangular cut-out pattern.

Outboard nesting boxes

Outboarding the nesting boxes was the one significant modification we wanted to make which wasn’t explained in your plans, so we sort of had to figure it out ourselves. [Editor's note: I now offer free plans for external nesting boxes.] I have a tendency to overbuild, so I think it would support about 120 pounds of chickens. *grin*

Arched entryway into the “Secret Layer”

Richard cut an arched entryway for his hens to enter at the top of the ladder.I made the arched entry after being inspired by one of the coops on your website, in which the maker had made an arched entry. After making it, it seemed like a perfect spot for some sort of plaque, so I cut some scrap plywood to the right curve and gave it a single coat of weatherproofing stain. My two sons (6 and 9 years old) came up with the “Secret Layer” idea, and we did the painting and decoration (just acrylic paint) together.

About the chicken coop plans

Thanks for making such excellent plans. I’m a construction novice, and your plans made everything clear enough that I could build the chicken coop almost single handedly. Right now, we only have three chickens, but now that we have this lovely large coop, we’ll be adding a few more!  —Richard and Ellen

Many thanks to Richard, Ellen, and family for sharing their ideas and photos. Please leave a note in the comments if you like what they’ve built and found this post helpful. Then subscribe to Coop Thoughts so you never miss a post. It’s free, ad-free, and you can unsubscribe at any time.

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