I found some pictures that may help you with designing a chicken coop that looks good in a garden setting. The chicken coop my husband built six years ago is not perfect but it has served our hens well. It was a little too small for our original six hens but is just about perfect for four. Right now it is housing three healthy hens.
I say it is not perfect because, after using it for six years, we know what we’d do differently. First of all, the tiny henhouse is only 4’x 5′. The two nest boxes (14″d x 17w x 15h”) are accessed from the inside and the outside which I like. It’s easy for the grandkids to collect eggs and I don’t have to go inside to gather them.
We thought the small henhouse would be large enough since we live in a temperate climate where the food and water can be outdoors. What we didn’t take into account was the fact that rats come into the run at night and steal the food. We have to cover the food dispenser to keep them away at night. Also, sparrows and tohees help themselves all day long. I just consider it cheap wild birdfood.
The roost was only 4′ across for six hens. A tight squeeze but they like cuddling. It also would be nicer to have space for a hen to have chicks. If I had a few more feet, in the back, I could have put in a nestbox and area on the ground for chicks and a mama hen, or a brooder if I wanted to do it myself.
There is a long, narrow, window above the nest boxes that has hardware wire covering it to keep out raccoons. It doesn’t have a cover. Just open to the air. Great ventilation in this mild climate where it seldom gets below 40 degrees at night, even in the winter. There is an old stained-glassed window on the other side opposite the nests that can be opened if needed.
The run, where the hens spend their days is about 8′ x 16′ and more space than what is needed. Giving the hens more space keeps problems in check. They can dustbathe, pick at a bale of alfalfa, sun themselves and eat and drink all day. It has partial sun and shade from an old coastal oak tree. The pen has hardware wire on the lower parts of the sides that go into the ground about 12″. If I were to do it again, I’d put hardware wire up all the way on the sides and top. That would eliminate the rats and wild birds. We covered the wire on the top with lucite panels to keep out the rain.
So many of you have expressed interest in our coop. It certainly looks different than it did when we built it. It’s nearly covered with vines. We’ll be cutting them back soon. I like that it “fits into” the garden but I don’t want it to disappear. It’s much too cute!