After about 3 months of construction, I have built what I consider the perfect urban chicken run and house! There are still a few minor things that need to be done, but I’ve determined the coop is tour ready! I am so happy with how it turned out!
A few months ago, I wrote a post about options for pretty and practical chicken coops. Some of the features that I loved which make a coop pretty are architectural details, like siding and hardware, and plants growing on or over the coop. To be practical, the run needs to be large enough to stand in, the hen house easy to clean, and eggs easy to access. Other things, like covered and secure, were also basics that needed to be met.
So now, is the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the grand revealing of my urban chicken run and house!
Making the Chicken Run and House Practical
For this coop, I decided to purchase a set of plans. After looking at several online, I went with The Garden Coop. I’m not an affiliate, but if you’re looking for a simple chicken coop plan, I suggest you check them out. I liked this coop plan because it had a raised henhouse, giving the hens more space on the ground, while still keeping a small footprint. The run is tall enough to walk in, so it met my practical requirement.
This coop is completely covered, which will protect the hens during rainy weather, but the roof of the run and the hen house is wire, so there is plenty of ventilation. We used clear polycarbonate panels to give them lots of light. What I love most about this roof is that it is pitched with lots of space between the roof panels and the wire, so I can also use it as a drying rack for onions and garlic. Talk about an awesome way of stacking functions!
The hen house is essentially a box, lifted off the ground, built into the frame. The area under the house the stays in the shade and it’s a great spot to hang the food and water. In the hen house, I used a branch for the required stick for night roosting. There is a large door for cleaning access, and I clean out the house by simply using a squeegee to scrape out the poop into a bucket, a few times a week. Because it gets hit by the sun, the poop dries out and is easy to cleanup. Maybe eventually, I’ll lay down some linoleum so I can wash the floor easier, but I’m waiting for some to come up free on craigslist.
The plans I purchased had nesting boxes inside the coop, so I changed those and added an external nesting box. This allows me to check eggs without going in the coop, plus it’s fun to peek in on the hens while they are laying. Inside the coop, I added some curtains to the boxes to make them a bit more private, as hens like dark, secret areas to lay in. To clean out the nesting boxes, I simply open the nesting box door, move the scrap bit of 2×4, and brush out the shavings.
I customized the plans a bit more by adding an additional section to the run, to give them a bit more space. Two sticks at different levels give them a place to roost during the day and observe things.
A half-height addition gives the hens additional ground space and has a living roof in the form of a raised bed. Currently, I have herbs, including mint, growing in this bed. I’ll let the mint take over, providing me with the copious amounts of mint I use for teas and cooking while keeping it out of the future garden space. This living roof gives the chickens another nice shady space. This section of the run has a door for access, and I plan on building two additional run/bed sections, creating a U-shape. These standing level beds will be the perfect place to grow radishes, lettuce, and other herbs.
Making the Chicken Run & House Pretty
As mentioned, a pretty urban chicken run and house were important to me. While the shape of my coop is very modern, I used my 1900 Victorian house as inspiration and brought some of its elements to the coop. I love when outbuildings match the main structure, so I painted the house and the trim the same colors as the house. For the nesting box sides, I echoed the fishtail shingles that appear on the side of my house. The sign on the box says “Make Eggs”, which came from our original nesting boxes from our first chickens. I used black hinges and latches to give the appearance of Victorian hardware.
On the back wall of the hen house, I planted two jasmine plants, which will, in time, grow up the wall and hopefully on top of the roof. I also plan on attaching a gutter to the back of the run and collect the water from the roof into a rain barrel catchment system. Right now, the yard is a bit of a mess, and I’m using the area behind the coop for storage (that’s what all that plywood is), but the goal is to install the rain system in the fall.
I let the hens out of the pen into the larger yard when I’m around and can keep an eye on them, and long term, I hope to have a mini-orchard that will act as a free range area. On days I don’t let them out, I give them plenty of weeds and a handful of snails! I plan on planting an espaliered fruit tree on the front of the run.
Wondering about the location of my coop within the yard? It wasn’t my first choice, but city ordinances require the coop to be 20′ away from any residential structures. With houses and apartments on both sides of me, it made it a bit limiting.
What do you think? What’s your favorite feature? Leave me a comment and let me know!