BOOK REVIEW Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard

Do you want to know if this book can save you 
from a muddy chicken garden? It’s entitled,  
Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a 
Beautiful Chicken-Friendly Yard. It was published  
in 2012 by American author Jessie Bloom, and 
with a name like that she seems born to garden.
Hi, I’m Beth from Garden City Chickens, and 
weekly I share a video and write in my blog  
about my mini flock of hens in my small garden in 
the United Kingdom. When I first got hens my yard  
turned into mud and I started transforming it 
to work for my family and my hens and make it  
into a lovely space again, so this is a great 
channel for you if you’re considering getting  
chickens or you have chickens and you’re not 
happy with how they’ve changed your garden.
The author Jessie is the real deal, 
she’s an award-winning landscape designer  
and she has certifications in her profession 
and she’s a long time chicken owner.
I’ve read this book cover to 
cover twice, it’s easy to read  
it keeps my attention. I can also just jump 
into a section to get the information I need.  
Her ideas will inspire your garden, how to design 
the layout that considers your family, your  

your vegetable plot, and ideas about 
plants that will survive alongside your hens.
This book is for you if you want your hens to 
roam your garden but you’re unsure how to do  
that safely from predators or from the weather, 
and give you the confidence to choose plants that  
will survive alongside your hens. This would also 
be a good book if you have hens that have done  
damage to your garden and now you have 
them cooped up but you don’t want your  
hens confined to the coop all the time, this 
book will help you find balance and compromise.
My favourite thing about the book 
is the gorgeous photos, full colour,  
there must be almost 100 photos in this book. The 
gardens are super beautiful, I wonder if I’ll ever  
get my garden to look even half that good! The 
photos show the chickens enjoying an outdoor life.
I also like how this book is practical with 
ideas that I can use in my own garden. This  
isn’t a book of ‘how to copy Jesse’s garden and do 
the exact same thing’. It’s a book of inspiration,  
and understandably so there is just so 
much variance between people’s lifestyles,  
and garden sizes, and climates, and where they 
live in the world, and their type of birds, and  
there’s so many things that she can’t account 
for, so she can’t tell you to what exactly to  
plant and where. It’s an inspiration to 
take and apply to your own circumstances.
Jesse’s tips will also save you the cost 
of valuable mistakes such as not to buy  
delicate summer bedding plants only 
to have them ravished by the hens.  
I had learned that the hard way 
when I was first starting out.
The first 145 pages in the book deal mostly 
with how to create a garden that your  
chickens will thrive in, then as a bonus the 
remaining 55 pages cover various other topics  
such as designing a chicken coop, dealing with 
predators, caring for your hen’s health needs,  
and these do all relate back to the garden design 
and how to make a good habitat for your hens.
This book isn’t intended to be the only 
book you’ll ever need to buy about chickens,  
it provides you with realistic expectations 
about what will happen when you let your hens  
loose in the garden and reassures you that 
you don’t have to kiss your landscaping  
goodbye when you bring chickens home, 
you just have to get creative with it.
I wish I had found this book a year 
earlier in my chicken keeping life.  
I had bought this book one year into keeping 
hens in my garden and they had turned our  
very little bit of grass lawn into mud and we 
were in rented accommodation! I was starting to  
experiment in ways to improve the garden, and 
I was very happy to find a book on this very  
subject. It would be very time consuming to 
try and find all of this information online.
If Jessie ever does a second edition of her book 
I would love to see photos that show maybe a  
wider view or with more context 
of the gardens that she features,  
and maybe also feature some of the very small 
chicken gardens that she alludes to in her book  
because I think that would have a big interest 
to readers here in the United Kingdom,  
and maybe also a section about 
designing a chicken playground.
What’s your favourite bit about this book, 
Free Range Chicken Gardens? Feel free to  
comment below or leave me a message. Thank you 
for watching and I hope to see you next week, bye.

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