Susan and Ryan’s Garden Coop Chicken Coop, Vermont

Susan and Ryan's chicken coop built using The Garden Coop plans.
Susan and Ryan used The Garden Coop walk-in chicken coop plans to build a chicken coop in the yard of their beautiful Vermont home. You can read all about their coop and home here. They were also kind enough to share some photos and notes on how they modified their Garden Coop to fit their needs — including adding a few solar LED lights. The rest of this post comes straight from them.

Our modifications to The Garden Coop chicken coop design

We changed just a few things to make the coop our own:

Susan and Ryan's chicken coop built using The Garden Coop plans.

  • We added insulation since it gets so cold here in northern Vermont.
  • We put the hen access door on the side rather than underneath the henhouse as you and others have suggested to reduce drafts in the winter.
  • We planted sunflowers around one corner of the coop in the hopes of providing the chicks with some shade.
  • We added solar-powered LED lights to both the outside corners of the coop (stakes in the ground) to help us see if we ever needed to trek out to the coop in the dark and a string of smaller solar-powered LED lights around the interior of the henhouse.

How we added solar-powered lights to our chicken coop

Solar light collector on the roof of the chicken coop.The solar lights provide a nice, soft glow inside the coop, and we have heard much less squawking at night since we’ve added the lights. (I don’t think our chickens liked the dark!) They also help encourage them to put themselves to bed at night.

The solar collector sits right up on the roof, by the way, and we ran the tube of lights through the hardware cloth to keep it aloft. We’re really happy with how it turned out and would recommend it to anyone interested in adding some light to their coop. The light string cost about $30 from Home Depot and the in-ground lights were about $3-4 each.

Thanks again for all of your hard work on the plans and for the wonderful customer support. We could not have done it without you!

–Susan and Ryan, Vermont

Many thanks to Susan and Ryan for their ideas and pictures. Do you incorporate any solar lights or other solar-powered systems in your chicken coop? Share your ideas and experience in the comments below!


10 thoughts on “Susan and Ryan’s Garden Coop Chicken Coop, Vermont”

  1. Hi,

    Do you think insulation on the walls is enough without a ceiling to the henhouse? I know there is the plastic ceiling above, but do you think anything more is needed to close in the henhouse too to keep in heat in the winter?



    • John, our series on winter chicken coop prep and care should clear this up. Essentially, you want to limit drafts in the winter without cutting off ventilation. Ventilation is very important and is best when positioned near the top of the hen house. Finally, if you add insulation, it should be used only to slow the loss of supplemental heat (from an electric or solar heat source, for instance), not to trap heat generated by your chickens. Hope this helps.

      • Thank you for the reply.

        I see in in your winterizing section of the blog that a first recommended step for winterizing is to cover the top of the hen house with a plywood (or other) sheet (but with ventilation). If I cover it with a sheet of plywood and insulate for a heater, do you think that a hole in the plywood in the middle of the sheet at 1 foot by 1 foot would be enough? Any recommended dimensions for such a ventilation hole (or holes)?

        Where have folks put electricity outlets and light fixtures bulbs? On the henhouse wall near the top?

        Thanks for the great plans. The detail is VERY helpful. I am nearing the final touches for our Massachusetts located coop!

        • John, glad to hear your coop is coming along well. This is just an estimate, but I’d leave at least 4-5 square feet open above the henhouse. This would allow you to cover about two-thirds to three-fourths of the open ceiling. You will lose heat through the opening, but you’re not trying to make it toasty in there, just taking the edge off the bitterest cold. That escaping warm air will carry moisture away with it, which is a good thing to have happen.

          I’m hesitant to give electrical advice, so please use caution and your best judgment — or talk to an electrician. That said, I think you’re idea for placement makes sense, keeping all cords, outlets, and fixtures secured and away from the chickens as much as possible. If they get startled or excited for any reason, imagine the chaos of them all flapping around in there, then design your setup to survive that activity. Hope this helps.

          • Thanks. I really appreciate the prompt responses. Your website, plans are a huge help! I feel like I’m entering a special affinity group like VW Bus owners; perhaps it’s GardenCoop Nation!

  2. Hi, Thanks for posting your coop. It looks great! I am considering using the Garden Coop and also live in Vermont. I’m wondering how the coop is holding up (especially with our winters) and whether there is anything you advice doing differently. Thanks!

  3. Thanks for the question, Kathy! We just used sheets of foam board insulation and cut them to fit in the spaces between the exterior and interior walls. Very inexpensive and easy to cut/install…and on those mornings here in VT when the temp is in the teens or even negative digits, I’m definitely glad we took the time to add it in!

  4. Neat coop and thank them so much for sharing their updates. It is very helpful for so many of us facing the same issues, cold and possible night time visits!!


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