What is the point of doing a planted duck coop?

Well, after spending several months observing my own Indian Runner Ducks in all the different sorts of weather we get in Tennessee, I’ve noticed that the ducks tend to rest during the day in different areas of the edible landscape depending on what sort of weather we’re having. 

If it’s hot and summer, they might rest in the shade so they don’t bake in the 100 degree heat. If it’s warm but not blazing, they have taken naps in the sweet potato patch planted beside the duck pond on a hill. When it rains, they have their day time naps in a thick patch of some sort of ground cover weed that popped up on its own. 

By taking note of all these different resting spots, you can see that the ducks still aim to be warm and dry whenever they can as they certainly have the option to nap on bare clay ground, which they almost never do. 

So how can we use that information to improve the duck house and reduce the amount of labor needed to keep a duck coop clean and liveable for our water birds? We can add plants that continually suck up the moisture left behind from duck excrement and the vigorous dunking of duck heads in the watering bucket to keep the duck coop floor drier. As those plants’ roots spread and continue to grow, overlapping atop each other, they add more cushion and “new bedding” to the duck coop, with no additional work. 

The duck coop is a place for the most durable of plants as ducks are very… insistent about pulling up plants. 

Reducing The Labor Of Keeping Your Duck House Clean

Indian Runner Ducklings on a bed of horseradish leaves in their duckling brooder
Indian Runner Ducklings on a bed of horseradish leaves in their duckling brooder
Let’s talk more on that. 

Creating A Warmer Environment For An Open Side Duck House While Maintaining Excellent Ventilation

Blue Indian Runner Duckling Showing Off His Cute, Pink Webbed Feet
Blue Indian Runner Duckling Showing Off His Cute, Pink Webbed Feet

What Kinds Of Plants Work Well For The "Floor" Of The Planted Duck Coop?

You’re looking for something fast-growing, shade tolerant, evergreen, perhaps cold-hardy if you live in a climate that has cold winters, something that either grows close to the ground or is easy to keep trimmed, or… the ducks find delicious, so they’ll keep it trimmed themselves. 

The more vigorous the plant, the better able it will be to resist the nonsense of ducks. 

1Horseradish

Horseradish grows so quickly that it might start sprouting in the box before it gets to you, assuming you order it online instead of picking some up in a local grocery store. Horseradish is an excellent choice to combine with soil-building if you’d prefer something that can be chopped and dropped in place. Sometimes ducks will nibble on the young horseradish leaves which are edible for them and can be eaten in salads by humans. 

More on horseradish in the edible landscape.

2Jasmine Vining Plant

If you’re looking for something beautiful and evergreen that will create “new layers” for your duck coop, putting space between your ducks’ and wherever their waste products spray out to, Jasmine plants come in different varigations of colors and are evergreen within their planting zones. They can also be trained up the sides and across the roof of a duck coop for additional coverage and insulation. 

3Ajuga

4Arenaria Wallowa Mountains aka Mossy Sandwort

5Wasabi

Looking forward to trying this one as the concept of growing something edible directly in the duck house is not only appealing from a permaculture/edible landscape standpoint, but there’s also the added benefit of the green tops of wasabi also being a sustainable duck food which will give them something to nibble on throughout the night.

6Thyme

Plants For Your Planted Duck Coop That Act Well As Living Walls

Similar criteria as the “planted floor” list. We’re looking for plants that are evergreen, will possibly grow in and out through chicken wire, for those using chicken wire, will tolerate the cold if necessary. It certainly wouldn’t hurt if they are also edible for the ducks to give them additional greenery at night. 

7Bamboo

8camellia sinensis tea bush

9Hakone Grass | Japanese Forest Grass

10Sweet Grass

11Phormium Tenax

12Sweet Potato Vines

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