This topic is one that many gardeners and lawn enthusiasts struggle with: birds eating grass seeds. If you’ve ever spent hours planting and nurturing new grass seeds only to wake up the next morning to find it all gone, you know how frustrating this problem can be.
Not only does it delay the growth of your lawn, but it can also attract other pests like insects and rodents. Fortunately, there are several effective methods for deterring birds from eating your grass seed without harming them or your lawn. Keep reading to learn more!
- Reasons Why Birds Eat Grass Seed
- How to Stop Birds from Eating Grass Seed
- Verdict: Keep Birds From Eating Grass Seed
Reasons Why Birds Eat Grass Seed
There are thousands of bird species that feed exclusively on seeds. Finches, sparrows, canaries, weavers, and even your everyday pigeons.
While grass seed isn’t nearly as nutritious as sunflower seed (which is just one of many types of seeds birds feed on), it’s easy to pick. When you sow grass seed, it is immediately visual and easy pickings. All a bird has to do is swoop down and pick it up.
Simply put – birds eat grass seed because it’s easy to obtain.
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How to Stop Birds from Eating Grass Seed
There are three strategies that can be deployed to keep birds off your lawn for long enough to allow grass seed to germinate and take root.
- Scare Tactics
- Physical Barriers
In the first section of this article, I’ll focus on scare strategies, as they’re the quickest and often the most simple methods of keeping birds away from your grass seed. However, while they’re effective, scare strategies as you will see, are often only a short-term solution.
Keep in mind that most birds aren’t very intelligent. They’ll return to your yard soon after you have scared them away, which can mean a more sustainable deterrent is required to protect your grass seed until it roots.
1. Noise Deterrents
Birds are easily frightened by loud, sudden noises, so anything that produces a ‘bang’ is fair game in this regard. Fortunately, there are several noise deterrents on the market, that can be used to scare birds away from your garden without causing harm to them or your plants.
You or your neighbors may see it differently, so before you go ahead and buy an agriculture-sized propane cannon, think about the effects any noise deterrent may have on humans and pets.
Bird Alarms. These devices emit loud, high-pitched sounds that mimic the distress calls of birds in danger. The sound is designed to startle birds and make them think there is a predator nearby. Bird alarms come in various forms, including handheld devices and motion-activated units.
Propane Cannons. These devices create loud explosions that mimic the sound of gunfire. The noise is intended to scare birds away by creating the impression of danger in the area. Propane cannons can be set up on a timer or activated manually.
Ultrasonic Deterrents are also an option. These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are unpleasant for birds but not audible to humans. They work by creating an uncomfortable environment for birds, making them want to leave the area.
2. Motion Activated Sprinklers
Motion-activated sprinkler systems have become increasingly popular as a bird deterrent in recent years. These systems work by using infrared sensors to detect the movement of birds and other pests in the area. Once detected, the system activates a sprinkler that sprays water, effectively scaring away the birds.
One of the advantages of motion-activated sprinkler systems is their effectiveness in deterring a wide range of bird species. The sudden burst of water simulates a natural predator attack and creates an unpleasant experience for birds, making them less likely to return to your garden or crops.
Of course, when sowing new grass seed, this method is also a great way of irrigating your lawn at the same time, if you can find the right sprinkler head. It the water pressure is too high, you can angle the head skywards to create a rain-like effect for your lawn.
In an ideal world new lawns need an oscillating sprinkler with a fine spray, ideally one with adjustable settings. If the spray is too strong it will move the grass seed and interrupt germination and successful rooting. So an option is to use a standard oscillating sprinkler on a timer, switching it on every minute, or whilst the bird activity is at a peak.
This system is environmentally friendly and safe for both birds and humans. Unlike other methods such as poisons or traps that can harm wildlife, motion-activated sprinklers do not cause any physical harm to birds. Instead, they provide a humane way to protect your garden from bird damage.
3. Who Let The Dogs Out
Dogs are territorial animals and they won’t appreciate birds hanging out in their yard. Simply letting your dog protect the yard can often help keep the birds away to a certain degree.
However, there are a few issues with this approach:
- Not all dogs chase birds away.
- No surprise, dogs are living beings with other interests. They won’t stand guard 24/7 as they’ll get tired of it after a while.
- If your dog likes to protect the territory, you may find the barking becomes a secondary problem in itself
- Dogs chasing birds off the lawn, will dislodge germinating seeds, or flatten young grass shoots. While they won’t do this on purpose, it can definitely happen.
4. Protective Netting
Protective netting is an effective way to keep birds off your lawn or garden. Use the netting to create a physical barrier that prevents birds from accessing the lawn. This is exceptionally effective if you can cover the entire area of the seeded lawn.
To use protective netting, measure the area you want to cover and purchase a suitable amount of netting to cover the entire area. When measuring remember you will need to stake the netting to lift it off the lawn surface, so be sure to measure for this extra hanging length from the floor to the elevated netting.
Netting comes in various sizes and materials, so be sure to purchase netting with a maximum of 0.5-inch diameter holes or less. The smaller the holes the heavier the netting will be to stake and suspend. The larger the holes the more chance there is of smaller birds getting through or worse getting caught and dying.
Once you have the netting, you will need to secure it in place, using stakes or poles to create a framework over the area you want to protect. You can then drape the netting over the framework and secure it in place using clips or ties.
It’s important to ensure that the netting is taut and does not sag, as this can provide birds with access to the protected area. Check the netting regularly for any holes or tears that may allow birds to enter.
Protective netting is ideal for protecting large areas such as lawns or gardens from bird damage. It’s also useful for protecting individual plants or trees from bird feeding.
5. Mulch or a Layer of Topsoil
Using a fine mulch or topsoil to cover new grass seed is an effective, albeit costly method. It has the added benefit of providing a range of benefits for your lawn in general.
To use protective mulch, you will need to choose a suitable fine material such as topsoil, fine compost, grass clipping, or even sand. Spread the mulch over the lawn in a layer of at least 1/4 thick.
Mulch provides several benefits in addition to bird deterrence. It helps retain moisture in the soil, suppresses weed growth, and improves soil structure as it decomposes. Additionally, some types of mulch can provide nutrients to your lawn as they break down.
It’s important to maintain the mulch regularly by adding more as needed and keeping it free of debris and weeds.
6. Horticultural Fleece
Horticultural fleece is a lightweight, breathable fabric that can be used to protect your lawn or garden from bird damage. The fleece creates a physical barrier, similar to netting, that prevents birds from accessing the area while still allowing air and moisture to circulate.
To use horticultural fleece, you will need to measure the area you want to cover and purchase a suitable amount of fabric. Fleece comes in various sizes and thicknesses, so it’s important to choose one that is strong enough not to tear when spread over the required area of lawn. Consider wind, pockets of gathered rainwater, and so on.
Once you have the fleece, you can drape it over the area you want to protect and secure it in place using stakes or pins. It’s important to ensure that the fleece is taut and does not sag, as this can provide birds with access to the protected area.
Horticultural fleece is ideal for protecting newly seeded lawns from bird feeding. It allows seeds to germinate without interference while also providing protection from harsh weather conditions such as frost or wind.
It’s important to check the fleece regularly for any tears or holes that may allow birds to enter. Additionally, it’s essential to remove the fleece once plants have established themselves sufficiently, as prolonged use may interfere with their growth.
7. Clear Plastic Sheet or Clear Tarp
Clear plastic sheeting is another viable option to protect your lawn seed from bird damage. This hard-wearing physical barrier prevents birds from accessing the area while still allowing sunlight and moisture to circulate.
Once you have the sheeting, you can drape it over the area you want to protect and secure it in place using stakes or pins, in the same way, you would use horticultural fleece. It’s important to ensure that the sheeting is taut and does not sag, as this can provide birds with access to the protected area.
The use of clear plastic allows seeds to germinate without interference while also providing protection from harsh weather conditions such as frost or wind, and it will even retain moisture during dry periods.
8. Bird Decoys
Birds, like all wild animals, are always looking over their shoulder for predators and danger. Plastic decoys can be used to create an illusion of danger, which can discourage birds from entering your garden.
To use bird decoys as an effective strategy, you will purchase several decoys that resemble a predator of your problem bird species. A good choice could be a bird of prey, a fox, or similar will be required to have any kind of impact.
Place your decoys in prominent and visible locations around the area you want to protect. The goal here is to deter the bird before they get into your garden, not after they have landed. So place the decoys on open spaces on the lawn, or on the top of walls or fences.
It’s important to move the decoy around from time to time so that nuisance birds don’t become accustomed to them being static.
10. Strategically Placed Feeders
A great way to draw attention away from grass seeds is by placing bird feeders around your yard and filling them with more nutritious seeds. This offers the birds two options.
- Feed on a bird feeder full of masses of large highly nutritious feed, and not having to move around at ground level
- Be on the lawn where a predator could attack, whilst eating a few small grass seeds at a time
Soon enough the birds will work out the easiest and safest way to feed.
Place several feeders around the lawn areas and make sure they are kept full of good-quality seeds and nuts.
11. Use Bird Repellent Grass Seeds
Bird-repellent seeds contain bitter-tasting substances intended to discourage birds from feeding.
To use bird-repellent grass seeds, simply spread the seeds evenly over the surface of the lawn or soil, just as you would any other grass seed. It’s important to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully, as some types of repellent seeds need specific planting conditions or watering schedules, so make sure you check.
12. Natural Bird Repellents
There are several types of natural bird repellents available, including visual, auditory, and scent-based repellents. We have already covered auditory when we discussed noise deterrents, so let’s focus on visual and scent-based tactics.
Visual repellents include reflective tape or shiny objects that reflect light and create a dazzling effect that can confuse or scare birds away from the area.
Scent-based repellents use natural scents such as peppermint oil, garlic, or vinegar that are unappealing to birds. These scents can be sprayed directly onto the lawn seed or applied to surrounding areas to create a barrier around the protected area.
To use natural bird repellents effectively, it’s important to identify the type of birds you want to deter and choose a suitable method for repelling them. For example, reflective tape may work well for smaller birds such as sparrows or finches, while predator calls may be more effective for larger birds such as crows or seagulls.
Once you have chosen an appropriate method, place the repellent in strategic locations around the area you want to protect. It’s important to move the repellent regularly so that birds do not become accustomed to its presence and ignore it.
Verdict: Keep Birds From Eating Grass Seed
Birds go after grass seeds because they’re easy to gather and they provide cheap nutrients. The best way to keep them away is by physically preventing them from getting close to the seed with netting, tarp, and mulch.
It would also help to incorporate bird feeders to draw their attention away from the grass or install motion-triggered sprinklers to scare them away.