Do Ducks Destroy Your Garden? (And Ways To Protect Plants)

Choosing to raise ducks comes with a number of perks, such as low maintenance and delicious eggs. However, can they destroy your garden, outweighing the benefits they bring?

Ducks can cause damage to a garden, especially if there is a lot of water around the plants. They often target plants when they are tender and young. However, while ducks can harm many plants, there are certain ones which they do not like, so they will not destroy them. 

Ducks tend to be strong birds: they are generally healthy and often resistant to diseases. They also lay regularly, providing you with a steady supply of nutrient-rich eggs. 

This article answers your question regarding the nature and level of damage that ducks can do to your garden. If you really want to keep your ducks, however, we will also give you some tips on how to protect your garden at the same time.

Learn how to raise your own quail and have an unlimited supply of eggs and meat.

How Destructive are Ducks to a Garden?

The impact of ducks on a garden will depend on the content and nature of the garden space. Ducks like to be around water-logged spaces or areas with lots of moisture. For this reason, if your garden doesn’t have areas where water gets trapped within the soil, then they probably will not do much damage.

Also, during the drier seasons when plants are sapped of wetness, ducks may not do much as well. However, if these conditions are not present, be ready to see ducks wreak some havoc on your garden.

First, they can eat plants by burrowing into the leaves and stems. Because they love the water plants contain, it is not uncommon to find ducks eating up the entirety of a plant, especially if most of its body is succulent. 

Income School

Because they love the water plants contain, it is not uncommon to find ducks eating up the entirety of a plant, especially if most of its body is succulent. 

When they don’t eat up plants, they can cause a real mess in the growing area! If ducks spot a pool of water or any mud in any part of the garden, you can expect to find them concentrated there, where they will use their feet to dig further into the ground to bring up more moisture trapped within the soil.

Another thing that spurs ducks to dig is their search for worms and bugs. You should also expect your ducks to dig up your garden when they are searching for comfortable places to lay eggs. Excessive digging generally makes the soil environment less optimized to support plant growth. 

Additionally, in the process of mudding up the soil, they also trample on plants using their large webbed feet. This may cause infant plants to die off. 

Ducks dig for worms and bugs

What Plants Do Ducks Destroy?

Ducks are omnivores and will eat a wide variety of plants if they have access to them in a garden. But they generally like plants and plant parts that have lots of humidity and softer textures

Fruits & Vegetables

Generally, you will find ducks around vegetables (especially fresh ones) because they generally are leafy, tender and contain enough water. Their favorites include cabbage, spinach, lettuce, green beans, tomatoes, cucumber, and broccoli. Among the fruits, ducks prefer berries, watermelon, bananas and cantaloupe

Specific Plant Parts 

You may wonder which plant parts ducks focus on the most.  Often, they will eat the stems, fruits and flowers of the plants that they like. 

Young and Tender Plants

Even among the various plants that ducks desire, they are more prone to eat them up if these plants are at their early stages. Younger plants tend to have more moisture content than the more mature ones, which attracts water-loving ducks

If you have any of these in your garden, you may want to reconsider bringing your ducks near. 

Plants Ducks Won’t Destroy

There are plants that ducks generally take less of, and will likely not destroy if they are in your garden. Typically, these include “sour” plants or plant parts, such as those of citrus.

If You Have a Pond, Will They Eat Your Aquatic Plants?

Shallow waters such as ponds are the favorite habitat for ducks. Thus, they like whatever items they find in such ecosystems, including plants. All types of floating parts, including water lilies, water grasses, pondweed, wild celery, green algae, duckweed and more, attract ducks

This may affect the pond as their consumption will leave behind plant wastes, which can be harmful to the pond when they decay. The ducks themselves also release feces which can taint the water. Furthermore, eating up these plants denies the pond the proper ecosystem balance. 

Duck eating the flower of a water lily

How Do You Protect Your Garden from Ducks?

Considering the damage that ducks can do to your garden, you need to put measures in place to protect the area from them. Measures to take include:

  1. Building a Fence or Hedge

If you have a watery area around your garden, the best way to ensure that ducks don’t continue to damage plants is to prevent them from getting in. This will involve installing a fence or hedge.

The fence doesn’t need to be tall; ducks don’t have the ability to fly too high, and as such won’t be able to scale the barrier. You can either use external materials or even build flowers to provide the hedge. One plant that can properly serve the hedge plant function is the “Green Gem” shrub. 

  1. Restrict them to Certain Areas of the Garden

There are benefits to keeping ducks around your garden, and you can minimize the downsides by regulating which parts of the garden they have access to. If you can’t keep them out, plan your garden so that the ducks are always around plants they aren’t attracted to. 

  1. Don’t Plant Items that Ducks Like

If possible, avoid growing those plants that ducks will be attracted to destroying. 

Are Ducks Beneficial to Your Garden?

Yes. Ducks can be beneficial to your garden in various ways. First, they serve as a natural method of pest control. Ducks feed on insects that may harm plants such as bugs and slugs, and they do this thoroughly. With ducks, you don’t need to apply harmful chemicals. 

Then, as they eat the slugs and bugs and deposit their remains, you’re also getting access to a natural source of fertilizer for your garden. 

Are Ducks Less Destructive Than Chickens?

Several bird rearers tend to choose between chickens and ducks, and want to know which will do more damage to their gardens. Both eat up sections of plants, although ducks are prone to eating critical parts like the stem and leaves. On the other hand, you see chickens focus on seeds, especially if they are grains.

Beyond these similarities, ducks do a different type of damage from what you get from chickens, and the choice of which is more destructive will be subjective.

Ducks focus on critical parts like the stem and leaves. Chickens focus on seeds, especially if they are grains.

For instance, chickens scratch and burrow the ground, but ducks dig deep. While many can see mere scratching as being less harmful, experts explain that digging up (which we know ducks for) helps aerate the soil.

Soils require ventilation to enable proper supply of oxygen, alongside other nutrients to plants’ roots. So, ironically, ducks can actually contribute to the welfare of the plants. 

Also, ducks often don’t spread their digging and damage across the entire garden. You are likely to see ducks focus their activity to waterlogged and swampy areas, if you have such spaces in your garden. Chickens, however, can feast on crops regardless of their moisture content.


When rearing ducks around your garden, you should expect their impact on the garden to be mixed. They have the potential to cause some damage. On the other hand, they can also reduce pests and provide natural manure.

Hopefully this article has given you what you need to make a decision about whether or not to have ducks in your garden. If you do, be sure to implement the tips we have provided to protect it!


Sam is an outdoor enthusiast, who loves spending time in the garden and learning about animals. His motivating forces are his wife and 5 beautiful children. When he doesn't get it right, he will go and try again!

Recent Posts