Got this AWESOME new book recently and I've been loving it from cover to cover.
It is called Free-Range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-Friendly Yard (a long title for a great subject), by author Jessi Bloom, who is herself an award winning garden designer. She's combined her skills at garden design and love of chickens into what I think is a great resource of information with information for the novice and maybe some new tidbits for the long time chicken keeper.
The inside is filled with great chapters and has lots of diagrams, lists of do's and dont's, good and bad, and best of all, suggested layouts for a chicken yard.
It also has beautiful photography (by Kate Baldwin) that shows happy chickens and close up details of plants and coops and chicken yards that others have created.
It's divided up into sections such as Free Range Chickens, Natural Fertilizer, Organic Pest Control, Soil Aeration, Fresh Eggs, and Thriving Gardens. There are also lists of dangerous plants for chickens, and even plants that make for great shade and healthy snacks for the egg laying ladies. She also goes into chicken keeping basics, including coops and the best way to lay them out, fencing, safety, feed, care, egg laying, etc.
This is what our future plans are for this area. I've been slowly clearing this spot and keeping it mowed so that it just sort of stays clean and not overrun with weeds and brush and sprouting trees.
The barn will come next Spring (we are planning it now), and while we still won't have chickens right away, I can now use this book, and all the great online resources I've found, to start getting it all prepped ahead of time. I've got a list of plants I'd like to find for next Spring to put in the future chicken yard so they can get established ahead of future residents.