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The Garden Coop Walk-In Chicken Coop FAQs


If you are considering The Garden Coop walk-in chicken coop plans, click here to learn more about the coop and to get answers to the most common questions.

The Garden Coop Chicken Coop Plans

The following are additional FAQs for customers who already have the plans:


I am curious about why you attach the front (the inside window/door of henhouse part) before the inside parts (floor and walls) of the henhouse. I haven't started yet, but it seems like it would be easier to do the inside parts before the outside.

You can switch the order of assembly here if you prefer. Because the inside walls and floor are designed to come in and out anyway, I measured, cut, and put them in after the walls were finished. Doing it this way let me be sure that everything would fit. But if you follow all the measurements, you should be fine either way.

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How much working room will I need between an existing fence and the back/sides of the coop?

Leave at least 2-3 feet (0.6 - 0.9 m) between the frame and the fence. I was tempted to make it closer, because that area seemed like wasted space, but I'm glad I didn't. If you have the room, I'd leave about three feet. This will make construction easier, particularly the trenching and wrapping of the hardware cloth. And it's just nicer all around after the fact since you can access all areas of the coop exterior should you need too. 

I helped a friend build a Garden Coop that had to be positioned less than a foot from a fence because of limited space. He chose to use siding on the entire back wall, which I think actually made it easier to build than if he'd done hardware cloth, but it was still a challenge. For the buried hardware cloth barrier on the back side, he did that on the inside of the run instead. 

Some people have even chosen to use a fence as the fourth wall. I can't speak to how well that's turned out in every case, but I have gotten specific feedback that it makes the construction harder rather than easier. 

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Questions about ventilation, changing seasons:

Any idea of the temperature extremes inside the henhouse? Wondering if it gets hot like a greenhouse.

The coop does not trap air or heat like a greenhouse at all. In the summer, you can put some thin boards up over the hardware cloth above the henhouse, arranged like slats. This shades the sun coming in through the roof without cutting off ventilation.

Also, while the roofing panels we chose are translucent, they do block 70% of the light, including UV. You might even prefer to use the white panels to block even more direct light.

No matter your climate, you want to make sure that in the summer your hens have shade from the afternoon sun. Ours prefer to spend most of the summer on the roost in the run, going into the henhouse mainly to lay eggs.

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What have you noticed about about sun and shade?

The chickens love the warmth of the sun when the air is cool. When it's hot out, they seek shade. Because of the higher angle of the sun in the summer and how the coop is in our yard, they get some shade from the roof, but the afternoon sun comes in hard from the side. Something to think about when you position your coop. You can grow a vining plant (e.g., beans, jasmine, hops, etc.) up that side to give shade in late summer. We also slip a thin panel of plywood over the henhouse, under the roof, to keep the sun from beaming in there.

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For the winter, I considered closing off the roof of the henhouse, but then it seems like the ventilation would be compromised. What should I do to keep the hens warm in the cold weather?

There are plenty of good tips available both online and in books about caring for chickens in cold climates. From our experience and research, the standard laying breeds are quite cold hardy — bred for New England winters. Ventilation is very important, as is fresh, unfrozen water, exercise, and extra grain for scratch. There should be plenty of room in the enclosed run for them to stay active in the winter.

As for ventilation in the henhouse, between the hole at the top of the ladder and some space left open at the top, you should get plenty. You can slide in a sheet of plywood between the hardware cloth and the roof to limit drafts, but do not seal it off completely. You may also add Styrofoam sheets inside the double walls of the henhouse, if you think that would help. I have not had to do this, though the coop is designed to make it easy. For the enclosed yard, you can wrap plastic sheeting around the bottom half of the run (on two or three sides) to provide a wind/rain/snow break. Make sure to leave plenty of ventilation, though.

For lots more information on preparing your chicken coop and flock for the winter, see the winter-tagged posts at our blog, Coop Thoughts.

NOTE: As I write this, the highs in Portland have been below freezing for about two weeks. Our hens look as good as ever. When the wind dies down, some of them still prefer roosting in the run and not in the henhouse, even at night.

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How did you decide to put the chicken access hole in the floor of the henhouse instead of in the wall?

We liked the look of it. So we decided to build it this way first, knowing that if we wanted to change it later, it would be easier to do. You can have the ladder come up into the wall of the henhouse, if you prefer. This leaves you with an uninterrupted floor in the henhouse, which is nice if you have more than 6 or so hens. Make the ladder a little narrower, then position it against the back wall, going up into the inside wall of the henhouse (right of the access door, as you face it). It works just as well, and looks good too.

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Questions about the roofing material (e.g., What is the snow load of the roofing material you recommend? Should I use clear, solar gray, or another shade? Where can I learn more?):

The roofing panels indicated in the plan are called SunTuf® and are made by Palram Industries. The plan follows the manufacturer's installation guidelines, which you can download here. (This is a general download page, so scroll down for the SunTuf® installation guides. There should be a consumer version and a more detailed "pro-sumer" version.) The panels as attached in this design are rated to support 20-30 lbs. per square foot (about 100-150 kg per square meter). As for colors, SunTuf® panels come in different shades. Avoid Clear unless you are locating the coop in full shade. Solar Gray has been great — it cuts all but 30% of the sunlight. It may look dark in the store, but outside you really see how much light comes through. White works nicely too, diffusing the light even more.

We have not noticed dirt/leaves/fungus accumulating on the gray or white roofs and have not had to wash them. If you have lots of leaf litter or little sunlight, maybe you'll see more of that.

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Any suggestions for expanding the size?

If you want to fully double the size, you should seriously consider building our latest design, The Garden Loft. It too is a walk-in coop with integrated henhouse and run, yet it offers twice the space of The Garden Coop.

That said, there are infinite ways you can modify The Garden Coop design to make it a little smaller or a lot bigger. And the plan makes a good jumping off point for your own creativity. A few of ways to expand the coop come to mind immediately.

The first, and maybe the simpler, way would be to increase the width towards the right (as you face the front of the coop) by another section. That would give you about 60 sq. ft. (5.4 sq. meters) of grazing area, which would be comfortable for 12 hens (at 5 sq. ft. per bird). The door could stay next to the henhouse, or move over a section. You'll probably need some extra brackets to extend the top/sole plates (upper and lower horizontal framing members) to that length. A few customers have done this, so be sure to check the Make It Your Own coop profiles on our website and blog.

Introducing. . ."The Garden Limo!"
* This sketch is for the purpose of discussion only and is NOT part of the plan.

To create some extra room inside the henhouse. I'd suggest moving the ladder so it leads up into the side of the henhouse, not the floor (so the opening would be on the inner wall). This would give you more functional space inside the henhouse for the hens to maneuver, since the floor would be uninterrupted.

You could also external nest boxes to your chicken coop using our free exterior nesting box plans for guidance. (Right now, the nest boxes are inside the henhouse space.) Be sure to review the external plans plans before framing your coop, as it will alter how you frame the left wall of the henhouse.

External boxes are not necessary, but would open up the entire henhouse for perches to accommodate more birds. They would also allow you to add a nesting box, though 2 should suffice. And if you built the external boxes out far enough, and clad the sides below it, you could create a nice covered cabinet for a bale of straw. (Just an idea, not in the plans!)

Another way to build The Garden Coop larger is to extend it further back (as you face it). You just have to be careful with your materials then — you'll need longer, wider boards for rafters to keep the right slope, longer roofing panels (they do come in longer lengths than what the plan calls for), and some of your siding lengths will change. Here's a post with more details on this type of expansion.

Of course, you'll need more hardware cloth no matter how you expand it. Click here to see other ways people are making The Garden Coop their own.

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What thickness plywood should I use?

I used 7/16" OSB (oriented strand board) for the plywood pieces. I think anything around a 1/2" (13 mm) should be fine for the henhouse floor and nesting boxes. You could get by with thinner for the interior wall panels.

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Can you tell me more about the non-toxic wood treatment you mention in the plan?

Timber ProUV Internal Wood StabilizerIt is called Internal Wood Stabilizer, and it's made by Timber Pro UV, a company right here in Portland, Oregon.

Click here to learn more and to get a discount code for direct orders from the company.


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Do I need to include the floating walls (double walls) in the henhouse?

The double walls are there for a couple reasons, but may be optional for you depending on your needs. If you use boards for siding and caulk between the boards, the floating walls keep the chickens from pecking at the caulk. They also are there if you want to add rigid insulation. If neither of these applies, you can leave them off.

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Have other questions about our chicken coop designs and plans?

Just click here to send us an email. And if you don't yet have The Garden Coop plans, click here to learn more about the coop design and plans and to get answers to the most common questions.



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