I got a nice message the other day from Mike and Dara P. of Portland who built their backyard chicken coop using The Garden Coop plans.
Their coop works beautifully in their city backyard and fits well into their neighborhood. It also makes a great backdrop for their family holiday card!
In the note they sent, they shared tips from their experience building The Garden Coop as well as some of the ways that they customized the design to work for their situation. Here are some excerpts:
Just wanted to send you some more photos from another more than satisfied customer! I found your coop plans a year ago and the project was slow to start but eventually we got it going this past summer.
The design fits perfectly into our small 20×50 urban backyard here in Portland. The chickens came shortly after the first photos where the coop looks pristine, and of course they love it!
I added crushed gravel along the roof drip line and pea gravel in the coop floor with a drain tile beneath. So far, this has worked out well for cleaning—just hosing it down periodically with no standing water or mess. I had not considered it before but the chickens have spent time digging in their floor to get to the dirt, and I would put less in next time around. I used about 6-8 inch depth of pea gravel for the floor and probably would use half that much in the future.
We are at 1000ft elevation and the winters can be cold, so I had canvas tarps made to fit around the coop much like many have used plastic. These have grommets and I have placed fasteners on the frame for these so I can use them from year to year (cleaning in between). In the photos, only one corner tarp is installed as the prevailing storm winds come from that direction. I had three pieces (one along the back, and two for the sides and corners) made to allow me the ability to customize how much or little coverage I need at any given point.
I usually recommend that you leave at least two and a half to three feet of space around the coop so that you have room to move as you build your coop. But in a small yard, that might not be possible. Retaining walls, fences, paths, trees, and other such stubborn things are indifferent to your intentions and simply don’t want to budge.
There’s usually a way to work around the immovables, though it may involve either more work on your part or slight modifications to the design.
The hardest thing for me to do was to dig the trench while keeping foundation/footing for the piers in place and then hang the hardware cloth. I did make the mistake of installing the hardware cloth from the mid-level crossbeam down and so shortened the buried depth compared to your recommendations. This made installation easier (less weaving of the seams) but I have been worried that it was going to be a problem.
So far, we have seen cats and coyotes snooping around the coop. Some minor digging at the ground level but nothing substantial or problematic. It may relate somewhat to the fact that there is little room for digging around the edges of the coop as we have pavers and retaining walls. Whatever the case, it is working.
I am really thankful for your plans and design for the coop. They are by far the most thorough, straightforward, and flexible (not to mention the most design appealing) that I have come across. Thanks again for your effort in offering this online for us to all benefit from.
– Mike and Dara P.
Thanks to Mike and Dara for their detailed feedback and ideas. Do you have pictures or tips to share? Just post a comment or send an email. And click here to see how others are making The Garden Coop and The Garden Ark designs their own.