How to keep birds off your seedlings

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Growing a vegetable garden is about more than sticking some seeds in the ground and eating whatever springs up. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you worked on that garden, there’s always someone waiting to help themselves to your bounty. Birds can bring a lot of color to the drab winter, but when spring comes, they may turn around and become serious garden pests. Birds are especially notorious party crashers, and often eat seedlings as they pop up from the soil.

Seedling bird protection can be frustrating, but you’ve got several options when it comes to protecting garden seeds from birds.

How to Protect Seedlings from Birds

Gardeners have devised a number of ways to keep birds from eating seedlings, ranging from the complicated to the impractical. Although you can pick up tools like artificial owls and bird scare items at your hardware store, these tricks lose their power over time. The only sure-fire way to keep the birds out of your seedlings is to exclude your feathery friends completely.

You can start by moving any food source far away from your garden. Keep your feeder stocked as an alternative source of food for birds that may be picking at your seedlings simply because they’re hungry. Once your seedlings have reached about eight inches, you can relax a little – most birds won’t bother them at this point.

When birds are eating seedlings, most gardeners will end up running for the bird netting or chicken wire. These can both serve as great exclusionary materials, provided you’ve built a sturdy frame to support them. Arches made from PVC, bamboo or soft hose can provide the support these materials need and will withstand a great deal of wind if driven deeply into the ground. Once you’ve got your material of choice stretched over the frame, pull it tightly and weight it down with rocks or secure it to the ground with landscape staples to prevent sagging.

Another option that’s still under investigation is using monofilament line to deter birds from landing in your garden in the first place. Scientists aren’t sure what it is that birds find so displeasing about fishing line, but there’s solid evidence that they want nothing to do with this material. For row crops, you can suspend a single piece of fishing line above the seedlings and secure it to stakes at both ends of the row. Thickly bedded seedlings will benefit from filament run at 12-inch (30 cm.) intervals. Choose a 20 pound (9 kg.) or greater line for best results.

By: Sarah Metzker Erdemir

21 September, 2017

Birds can be beneficial in a garden because they eat unwanted insects, but they can also be destructive. Birds eat newly planted seeds before they have a chance to grow, and they peck at leaves and fruits or pull up small seedlings. Fortunately, birds are relatively easy to frighten, so it’s possible to deter birds humanely until your plants are well-established enough to live with them.

Start seeds indoors in pots whenever possible. Some seeds, like beans and pears, do better when sown directly into the garden, but giving your other seeds a chance to grow a few inches tall in a protected location will make them better able to stand up to bird attacks and give you more successful plants.

Consider covering large plantings with floating row covers. These thin cloth covers protect seeds and seedlings from birds while warming the soil and letting light through. Leave the covers on until the seedlings are 3 or 4 inches tall.

  • Birds can be beneficial in a garden because they eat unwanted insects, but they can also be destructive.
  • Fortunately, birds are relatively easy to frighten, so it’s possible to deter birds humanely until your plants are well-established enough to live with them.

Scare the birds with shiny things. Old CDs or broken mirrors hung from trees make birds nervous because they flicker and throw unexpected shadows. For potted plants, make small flags by taping strips of tinfoil to toothpicks and placing the toothpicks in the soil. When the tinfoil moves in the wind, it will frighten the birds.

Set up some Mylar flash tape to keep birds out of your strawberry plants. Place the tape along the edge of the row and secure it with stakes. Make sure the tape doesn’t break, and replace it regularly as the shiny surface fades.

  • Scare the birds with shiny things.
  • Old CDs or broken mirrors hung from trees make birds nervous because they flicker and throw unexpected shadows.

Protect berry bushes by covering them with bird netting. Make sure the stakes are taller than the bushes so the birds can’t sit on the net and reach the fruit.

Try some commercial bird deterrents. These include decoy predators like snakes and owls, or electronic noisemakers that click or make hawk noises. For these to be most effective, try a few different ones and move them around at random intervals, or the birds will just get used to them and ignore them.

It might be tempting to use your cat or dog to chase away birds, but these pets can damage the garden. Their feces in the soil can bring dangerous bacteria to your vegetables, and they can trample seedlings. Additionally, housecats are responsible for killing millions of songbirds a year.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

This is a frustration known all too well by many a homeowner but luckily there are ways in which you can stay vigilant against birds ruining your freshly seeded lawn.

1. Use visual deterrents

Birds will be scared away from your lawn if they see visual deterrents such as plastic animal decoys such as owls or by introducing the farmer’s favourite – a scarecrow. Alternatively you could consider hanging pieces of reflective tape from trees or fences (or even get use out of old CD’s!) – the shine from the tape / CD’S acts as an effective scare tactic and prevents birds from making a meal of your grass seed and lawn entirely!

How to keep birds off your seedlings

2. Create a noise deterrent

Birds are reluctant to settle in noisy areas, so consider hanging tin cans from a piece of string or wind chimes to put them off. We’re partial to more than just a bit of a breeze in the UK, so a gusty spell and curious clinking of chimes is sure to send them on their way.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

3. Place netting over the seeded area

One of the most certain solutions to protecting grass seed from birds is to put a cover on it but this isn’t always the easiest method. Make sure to pin your covering down and also ensure that some light can get through it as the seed will still need this to grow.

4. Alternative food

Perhaps the most enjoyable method of preventing birds from eating your seed is to offer them something else. By providing an alternative food source the birds will then generally favour this over the grass seed. Place bird feeders throughout your garden to attract birds away from the grass seed.

By following some of these steps your grass seed will remain undisturbed and you will see a fully germinated lawn within a matter of weeks – after your seed is germinated there is no need to continue covering it or using deterrents – but you can keep feeding the birds if you wish!

How to keep birds off your seedlings

How do You Keep Birds Away from Your Garden?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Since moving out to the country several years ago, I have learned a lot about growing a large garden. One of the things I had to learn quickly was how to keep birds out of the garden.

I do love birds, I really do. Where I live there are birds everywhere. I love to feed the hummingbirds and finches. They aren’t the birds I have problem with, however. It’s the robins that keep trying to steal all of my strawberries.

Feed the Birds Somewhere Else

I have bird feeders all over my front yard. I have found that having bird feeders helps keep the birds out of my garden. Birds have got to eat, so give them something to eat elsewhere to help keep them out of the garden. Wild bird seed is very inexpensive, and you can make your own hummingbird food to feed the hummingbirds.

Just don’t place your bird feeders too close to the garden or it will help lure them into the garden.

Build a Scarecrow

Believe it or not people still use scarecrows to “scare” birds out of the garden. I have an easy DIY scarecrow that I put out every autumn, and I’m going to put it in my garden. Get the instructions for building a DIY scarecrow here.

Birds shy away from people, so having a scarecrow in the garden will help detract the birds from the garden. Birds are pretty smart, though, so if you have birds that visit your garden every day they will notice that the scarecrow isn’t alive if you don’t move it around.

You should move your scarecrow around in the garden at least once a week, more often if you think of it.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Owls and Snakes

Owls and snakes are both natural predators of birds. Birds are afraid of them. You can purchase plastic owls and snakes to place in the garden to keep the birds away.

Again, birds will figure out that the owl or snake isn’t real if they never move, so move them around every several days.

Use Netting as a Bird Deterrent in the Garden

My strawberries are what the birds are most after in my garden. You can purchase inexpensive nets to cover your strawberries and other plants that the birds are going after. Just check the nets several times a week to make sure that there are no birds caught in them.

More Bird Scaring Tactics

Any sudden movements or loud noises will scare birds away. Many people tie aluminum pie plates to fence posts so that the swing in the wind, hitting against the fence post to make noise. You can also use metal kitchen utensils for this purpose.

Items that reflect the sun are also effective in scaring birds. Metallic curling ribbon that you use to wrap gift packages or small pieces of aluminum foil can be attached to your fence so that the wind catches it.

This inexpensive reflective tape is made for scaring birds and can also be hung from your fence. You can also hang bird repellent discs around your garden to scare the birds.

How to Stop Birds from Eating Seedlings and Plants

If you have trouble with birds eating your seedlings and small plants, you may need to cover them with something like chicken wire until the plants are large enough to cover with plant netting.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

How to Keep Birds Out of Planters

If you have birds bothering your pots and planters on your porch, patio, or deck, this inexpensive reflective tape can easily be hung nearby to keep the birds away from your planters.

Do Pinwheels Keep Birds Away?

Yes, pinwheels do help keep birds away, especially if you purchase metallic ones that really reflect the sun.

Related Articles

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  • 6 DIY All Natural Garden Fertilizers
  • 3 DIY Plant Markers for the Garden
  • 4 Creative Ideas for Vertical Gardens

Follow my gardening for beginners board on Pinterest.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Torn between keeping birds in your garden and keeping them out of your plants? Why pick one when you can do both? Find out why natural bird repellent is best for your garden and the naturals ways to keep birds off your plants here!

Keeping Birds Off Plants With Natural Bird Repellent

While I was sulking over a ruined freshly sown veggie patch, I was helping my kid build a bird feeder this spring. Admittedly, birds are totally a mainstay around our home with bird baths and bird feeders installed in the garden. I don’t mind except for times when they ‘cultivate’ my veggie patch after I have sown the seeds or when they get to my harvest first. Well, they can be pesky at times but I wouldn’t have them absent from my place. Somehow, I found ways on how to deal with them safely–keeping them out of my crops but not out of the garden. You can help yourself to these ideas for natural bird repellent.

Why Is Natural Bird Repellent Best For Your Garden?

Don’t you know birds are gardeners too? They help spread plants by picking on the seeds of fruits and dropping them in places where the seeds can grow to be new plants. Well, I know you don’t want your garden planted this way, but birds can do a lot more for you in the garden.

Besides fruits and seeds, birds feed on slugs, snails, and worms which are by far peskier pests than birds. Thus, this helps you get rid of some of the common pests in your garden the natural way too. Some species of birds are pollinators too like hummingbirds, honeycreepers, and honeyeaters. That’s why we plant flowers that attract hummingbirds and other pollinators in the garden.

While there are a lot of convenient ways to get rid of birds through the use of nerve-disrupting sonic device or chemical means, they can be harmful to you and the environment in the long run.

Naturals Ways To Keep Birds Off Your Plants

When choosing the best bird repellent for your garden, what you need to take into account is the safety of your plants, your pets, and both you and the people around you. You also have to consider the cost, time, and energy that you will be spending. You can check here for the best way for you to keep birds in your garden but keep them off your crops.

Physical Barrier Natural Bird Repellent

According to the Humane Society Of the United States, bird netting or chicken wires as a physical barrier are the most acceptable form of controlling birds from destroying your crops. Physical barriers like mesh netting is a practical way to keep the birds off your plants. Mesh netting might seem a huge undertaking but it really is an investment. With this bird repellent, no harm will be done to other animals and people around you. Remember to avoid keep your netting fine, though, or you’ll end up trapping smaller birds and permanently harming them.

Scare Tactics

Some of the more accepted forms of bird repellent are scare tactics like a scarecrow, face balloon, fake cat, and fake owl which can be effective for a while. Call it nature’s instinct, or birds just really are intelligent creatures. Sooner or later, they’ll realize they aren’t big threats after all, and that they can keep coming without getting harmed. See how birds are perched on scarecrows after some time? Although scarecrows do make charming decor in the garden.

Distracting Birds

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Another suggestion is the use of distractions in the form of trinkets or noisy objects and reflections from mirrors or old CDs and shiny reflector tapes. They work the same way as the scare tactics. Other suggestions are the use of sonic devices that are not harmful to humans or birds but will render birds distracted by the sound that will cause them to stay away.

Learn how to install bird netting in this video to keep birds off your plants naturally:

Don’t you just love birds in the garden? I guess they’re also part of the reason why I garden, so I can see them nesting in the trees and listen to them sweetly chirping. I love them, except for times when I have to plant all over again after these cutie critters wreak havoc on my newly planted seeds. So if you want birds yet want your plants protected too, consider natural bird repellent as your only option!

What do you think about natural bird repellent for your garden? I’m interested to hear all about it in the comments section below.

Check out these homemade natural pest repellent recipes for a safe way to get rid of the pests in your garden.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter for more smart gardening ideas!

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

How do You Keep Birds Away from Your Garden?

This post may contain affiliate links.

Since moving out to the country several years ago, I have learned a lot about growing a large garden. One of the things I had to learn quickly was how to keep birds out of the garden.

I do love birds, I really do. Where I live there are birds everywhere. I love to feed the hummingbirds and finches. They aren’t the birds I have problem with, however. It’s the robins that keep trying to steal all of my strawberries.

Feed the Birds Somewhere Else

I have bird feeders all over my front yard. I have found that having bird feeders helps keep the birds out of my garden. Birds have got to eat, so give them something to eat elsewhere to help keep them out of the garden. Wild bird seed is very inexpensive, and you can make your own hummingbird food to feed the hummingbirds.

Just don’t place your bird feeders too close to the garden or it will help lure them into the garden.

Build a Scarecrow

Believe it or not people still use scarecrows to “scare” birds out of the garden. I have an easy DIY scarecrow that I put out every autumn, and I’m going to put it in my garden. Get the instructions for building a DIY scarecrow here.

Birds shy away from people, so having a scarecrow in the garden will help detract the birds from the garden. Birds are pretty smart, though, so if you have birds that visit your garden every day they will notice that the scarecrow isn’t alive if you don’t move it around.

You should move your scarecrow around in the garden at least once a week, more often if you think of it.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Owls and Snakes

Owls and snakes are both natural predators of birds. Birds are afraid of them. You can purchase plastic owls and snakes to place in the garden to keep the birds away.

Again, birds will figure out that the owl or snake isn’t real if they never move, so move them around every several days.

Use Netting as a Bird Deterrent in the Garden

My strawberries are what the birds are most after in my garden. You can purchase inexpensive nets to cover your strawberries and other plants that the birds are going after. Just check the nets several times a week to make sure that there are no birds caught in them.

More Bird Scaring Tactics

Any sudden movements or loud noises will scare birds away. Many people tie aluminum pie plates to fence posts so that the swing in the wind, hitting against the fence post to make noise. You can also use metal kitchen utensils for this purpose.

Items that reflect the sun are also effective in scaring birds. Metallic curling ribbon that you use to wrap gift packages or small pieces of aluminum foil can be attached to your fence so that the wind catches it.

This inexpensive reflective tape is made for scaring birds and can also be hung from your fence. You can also hang bird repellent discs around your garden to scare the birds.

How to Stop Birds from Eating Seedlings and Plants

If you have trouble with birds eating your seedlings and small plants, you may need to cover them with something like chicken wire until the plants are large enough to cover with plant netting.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

How to Keep Birds Out of Planters

If you have birds bothering your pots and planters on your porch, patio, or deck, this inexpensive reflective tape can easily be hung nearby to keep the birds away from your planters.

Do Pinwheels Keep Birds Away?

Yes, pinwheels do help keep birds away, especially if you purchase metallic ones that really reflect the sun.

Related Articles

  • 5 DIY Bug Sprays for the Garden
  • 6 DIY All Natural Garden Fertilizers
  • 3 DIY Plant Markers for the Garden
  • 4 Creative Ideas for Vertical Gardens

Follow my gardening for beginners board on Pinterest.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

The Spruce / Micah Issitt and Adrienne Legault

Mischievous, maddening, and always poised for action, squirrels seem to always be one step ahead of gardeners when it comes to the damage they inflict on our flower and vegetable beds. Rarely does any one single method achieve complete squirrel control, but with some persistence and a multi-pronged approach you can put a damper on the havoc these rodents wreak in the landscape.

What Plants Do Squirrels Eat?

Squirrels relish many of the same plants that we do, including fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, and berries. They will also make quick work of tulip bulbs, and even tulip blossoms. However, there are many plants that squirrels find distasteful, or are even toxic to squirrels.

Some plants have developed a defense mechanism of bitter or toxic sap to stop animals from eating them, so include these in your beds, borders, and hanging baskets.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

General Squirrel Prevention

Like all wild animals, squirrels are opportunistic, and will take advantage of the proverbial low-lying fruit in your landscape. Bird feeders are one of the biggest squirrel attractants, and it doesn’t matter if your feeder is the Fort Knox of squirrel-proof feeders, as seed will always spill onto the ground. You don’t have to give up on feeding the birds, but switching to less palatable feed like safflower seed or seed treated with cayenne pepper can deter hungry squirrels.

Keeping the garden clean can also discourage squirrels from gathering. After the harvest is over, remove any dropped fruits or vegetables from the ground. Don’t forget to clear away other foodstuffs that attract squirrels, like leftover pet food and dropped acorns or black walnuts in the landscape.

What about pet cats and dogs? The sight of a predator lying nearby may temporarily deter squirrels, but all pets must sleep, and the quick rodents will continue their damage during these catnaps. Additionally, cats and dogs can create their own nibbling and digging damage in the garden.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Squirrel Repellants

There are many squirrel repellants on the market, but most of them are based on predator urine or hot pepper. Homemade recipes may also include garlic or onion, vinegar, or peppermint oil.   Repellants may have some success used in conjunction with other deterrents, but gardeners must be vigilant about reapplication. Wind, water, and sunlight will cause repellants to break down quickly. Repellants also have the disadvantage of repelling the gardener. Do you want your rose garden to smell like coyote urine and onions?

Squirrel Fences

Fencing has a lot going for it as a pest exclusion device for any animal, but fencing can also be expensive and unsightly for larger areas. Cage is a more accurate term than fence, as no fence can keep out the agile squirrel. Although squirrels have the ability to overcome a very sturdy barrier with their digging and gnawing, a floating row cover is surprisingly effective as a barrier in the vegetable garden. Squirrels do not like the feeling of enclosure, which would prevent their ability to sprint away from a predator.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Squirrel Decoys, Noisemakers, and Sprinklers

Fierce resin owls and creepy black rubber snakes seem to populate the garden aisle every spring, giving gardeners the promise of scaring the squirrel out of his wits. Faux predators may have some limited effectiveness, but you must provide the animation they lack by moving them around every day. Ultrasonic noisemakers and motion sensor sprinklers may give squirrels a start, but rapidly decrease in effectiveness over time. As urban animals, squirrels have adapted to live alongside all kinds of noises and other stimuli.

Plant, Bulb, and Tree Protection

In wooded areas or those adjacent to parks, it becomes impossible to exclude squirrels, and in these places it makes more sense to protect individual plants from squirrel damage. It may seem like a lot of work, but as a bonus you will also be preventing damage from mice, voles, groundhogs, birds, rabbits, and deer.

Metal mesh cloches are ideal for young vegetable plants, especially leafy greens. You can buy handsome antique replicas, or create simple DIY cloches with chicken wire. Sink additional chicken wire over freshly planted bulbs to prevent digging. Aluminum flashing works well for wrapping tree trunks, and also prevents squirrels from running up trees. Paper bags will enable sunflowers to fully ripen without molestation. Old stockings or cheesecloth can prevent squirrels from one of their most infuriating practices: taking a single bite from a ripening tomato, and then abandoning the spoiled fruit.

This post may contain affiliate links.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

How to keep birds off your seedlings

Birds are truly useful creatures, aren’t they? They eat up mosquitos and bothersome insects, they wake us up each morning with their sweet songs, and they’re fun to watch.

My oldest daughter loves to spend time watching birds and identifying them in her bird book. Or, rather, getting me to identify them in the bird book for her. (She can’t yet read.) I’m happy to oblige because I’ve always been interested in birds myself. Still, though my love for birds is real and their good qualities can’t be overstated, they can also cause problems.

Their songs may make for sweet alarm clocks, but sometimes I don’t want to wake up at 5:30 a.m. (Actually, I never want to wake up at 5:30 a.m.) And while I appreciate their ability to eat mosquitos and wasps, I also prefer that they keep their appetites far away from my garden.

Birds can wreak havoc on a good crop, and it’s important to know that there are ways to prevent the damage they can cause, so let’s talk about how to keep birds out of our garden!

Scare Them

Birds are scared of humans, so theoretically, all you have to do to scare them away is stand in your garden. Of course, you can’t hang out in your garden all day waiting for crows to come peck at your tomatoes. You can, however, make something that looks like a person standing in your garden – a scarecrow. They’re simple to make and a fun project to work on with kids. At its most basic form, you only need a few supplies for a scarecrow:

  • Two large sticks
  • String
  • An old shirt

How to keep birds off your seedlings

The most enjoyable part of making a scarecrow is adding your own creativity. Stuff it with straw or old rags, or leave it hanging free. Put a funny hat on it or, if you’re like us, use an old welding helmet for its head. The idea is to create something roughly the size and shape of a human; once you’ve done that, have fun with it!

Another tip for using your scarecrow is to move it around occasionally. Birds might be scared of humans, but they’re clever animals, and if your scarecrow stays still for several days, they will figure out that it’s not actually a person. Try moving your scarecrow to different garden spots every few days. He can spend a day in the peas and then a few days in the cabbage and end up with a nice tour of your garden, and the birds won’t grow fearless of him.

Though the scarecrow is a fun, tried-and-true method of scaring birds way, there are other options. One method is to tie up pie tins around the garden. The brightness and reflection from the sun will startle the birds, as will the clattering sound they make when the wind blows them into each other. Pie tins aren’t the only kitchen objects that will work for this–hanging up any sort of metallic, loud utensils should work.

Finally, consider tricking birds into thinking your garden is home to a snake. My husband always leaves a small stretch of rope or garden hose out in the rows for this purpose. Birds, like many humans (myself included), are generally afraid of snakes. If you’d like to take it a step further, you could put rubber snakes out among your plants. I would recommend moving them around in the same manner as the scarecrow. Also, be sure to inform your family if you put fake snakes in your garden. No need to give anyone a heart attack.

Thwart Them

Scaring birds away will certainly minimize the damage they cause to your garden, but it isn’t a guaranteed method. The only certain way to keep birds away from your crops is to physically protect the plants. Bird netting (like this) works well for many crops, particularly berries. Netting can be draped over a whole blueberry bush, or you can create cages out of it with PVC pipe. I’ve also seen some more creative cages made out of sticks or two-by-fours.

How to keep birds off your seedlings

I would warn you to check occasionally to be sure that birds aren’t caught in the netting. You don’t want to harm the birds; you just don’t want them hurting your crops. We have used netting for a few years now and have never had a bird get caught, but it can happen. You’ll probably be out checking your garden every day anyway, so be sure to give the nets a good look.

Distract Them

Birds are just like any other hungry creature in that they’re looking for an easy meal. Can you give them a food source so that they aren’t tempted to get into your garden? Here are some ideas:

  • Leave one or two berry bushes uncovered as a “sacrifice”
  • Plant a few crops near your garden specifically for birds
  • Grow plants that naturally attract birds – just not in your garden
    • Sunflowers
    • Buckwheat
    • Juniper
    • Mulberry
    • Dogwood

It’s not too hard to peacefully coexist with birds. They do so many good things for us, and they hold a special place in the hearts of all of us naturalists. Don’t let your love of our winged friends be tainted by the damage they can cause to your garden – there’s no need to let it happen.

How do you keep birds out of the garden?

Let us know in the comments!