No-Dig Sunflower Fort Step-By-Step

by Daisy

I’m disorganized at everything, and gardening is no exception.

Most of the time when I remember to do something at the right time, it’s by accident.

I’ve seen examples of sunflower forts for years, but never, apparently, at the right time to plant them. Somehow this year was the exception, and I finally planted one.

A sunflower fort is a ring (or square, or what-have-you) of sunflowers that grow to form an enclosed space for children to play in.

This is how I did mine. You could also dig directly into the lawn or garden area where you want your fort, but I like no-dig better. There’s no digging and I can use better soil:


First, because the chickens have free-range time a couple of times a day, I knew if the sunflowers were to have a remote chance of making it to adulthood I would have to fence the chickens out. It will also give the plants some support, but the fence is not necessary if you don’t have a chicken issue.

I drove some ‘found’ bamboo into the ground in a circle and wrapped some ‘found’ chicken wire around it.

Thank you again, Curb Whisperer.

Thank you, man who put 100 feet of chicken wire out for the garbage pickup after giving up on using it to keep his dogs from digging out of his yard.

I left an opening, a door, in the future fort. I can block it off when the chickens are out.


Then I put down some newspaper over the grass. The newspaper will help smother the grass/weeds while the sunflowers get started and will soon decompose to let the sunflower roots through to the existing soil.


I had some rotting straw so I put down a layer of that. Not necessary, but a nice worm magnet and soil-builder.


Then I began covering it with “chicken dirt.” Chicken dirt is what I call the dirt I dig out from inside the chicken run. Since I put grass clippings, bags of fall leaves, garden weeds and spent plants in the run for the chickens to enjoy, the soil level rises and rises and gives me a supply of chicken-composted soil for whenever I need it.

Another reason I love having chickens.

Then I planted a mix of different varieties of sunflower seeds and watered them in. A little more of that straw over the top for mulch and the only thing left to do is wait and water.


It’s been a couple of weeks and the sunflowers are getting bigger and bigger every day with the good deep rains we’ve had and the sunny days in between.

I made the entrance a little too small for the lawn mower and I probably don’t want to mow in there anyway, so I’m trying to come up with a way to let the rabbits in to mow for me without them eating the sunflowers. Double fence?

We’ll see how that goes.

I’ll update with more pictures as the sunflowers get bigger.


Already spotted: fairy inside the fort.


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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Diane April 24, 2016 at 7:27 am

Your kids are going to love this!

Lucy Cleary April 25, 2016 at 2:01 am

What a wonderful idea Daisy – and inventive as always! 🙂

Daisy April 25, 2016 at 3:41 am

Lucy Cleary–Are you going to try it? It’s fun to watch grow!

MATTIE April 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

I’ve never heard of this but what fun it’s going to be once they flowers have grown and the kids can play out there. Keep us updated.

Bonnie North April 26, 2016 at 6:20 am

Daisy, I can’t wait to see this when it’s all grown! I like the piles of composted chicken enriched soil that you put over the newsprint and straw. I wish we could keep chickens where we live – I envy your fertilized compost.

Can you provide some links where I can learn how to keep chicken mess and smell at a minimum? Maybe one day our city will change its mind on the chicken issue if we can demonstrate that they won’t stink up the neighbourhood…

Daisy April 26, 2016 at 7:46 am

Bonnie–Oooh, I think you’re gonna love this–I haven’t done it myself, but check this out:
Amazing and permaculture geek project nirvana.
And my chicken run only smells after a week of heavy rain. Otherwise, nothing. Maybe if you lived in an extremely rainy climate it would be a chronic problem, but otherwise, not.

Bonnie North April 26, 2016 at 8:27 am

Thank you for linking this article! Of course, I should have guessed that Tradd Cotter would have found a way to use mushrooms for his chicken coop composting!

Patricia Rand April 26, 2016 at 9:15 am

Why couldn’t you bend the top of your fence back over the row of seedlings and make a hoop type cover?We always cover most of our garden rows with hoop covers to keep out the unwanted animals .

Daisy April 26, 2016 at 9:33 am

Patricia Rand–I can see if that would work. If the fencing isn’t wide enough, I could get another length of chicken wire and make a sort of lean-to situation. Thanks for the suggestion!

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