It’s a common sight at the start of spring. Many homeowners start preparing their land for sowing seeds and achieving those prized manicured lawns we often see in house and garden magazines.
You’ve turned and ploughed the soil to create a lush plot for your grass to grow. You painstakingly scatter grass seeds all over the prepared soil, then stand back to admire your work. Yet, when you come back the next day, all those charming songbirds that wake you up with their beautiful melody in the morning have become a menace and one that has you seeing red.
Before you start planning your revenge against these feathered felons, though, remember that they are only doing what comes naturally to them. Find out how to stop birds eating grass seed so you can get the lawn you want.
1. Protect The Seed With A Repellent Net
There’s a reason they call it a “bird’s eye view!” From their elevated status, birds can see grass seeds on the ground, and they have an instinct to swoop down for a meal. Cover the seed with a repellent net to prevent birds from turning your freshly sown lawn into their favourite dining area. This net will let in sunlight and water but also prevent the birds from getting their beaks onto the seeds. Although this repellent net is ideal for smaller lawns, it may not be a practical solution if you are planting an expansive lawn.
2. Cover It With Burlap
If you buy things like potatoes in bulk, chances are you have a fine collection of burlap sacks stashed in your garden shed. Cut them open so they are flat, and use them to cover the grass seeds after you sow them. Burlap is a natural material that allows the light and warmth of the sun to pass through and water. You will only need to cover the ground with burlap until the seeds sprout, which can take between five and thirty days[i]. If the birds can’t see the seeds, they won’t be tempted to eat them.
3. Try Straw Mulch
Mulching is a great way to cover your lawn and it will hide the seeds from the birds. Another advantage to using mulch is that it will help the soil retain moisture which will help the seeds sprout faster. Mulch is also an excellent medium for preventing weeds from overtaking your lawn for an added bonus.
4. Set Up A Few Fake Predators
If you want to keep the little birdies from eating all of your grass seeds, set up a few larger decoy predator birds strategically around your lawn. You can find these to resemble owls or hawks, which are sure to frighten smaller birds and keep them away from the lawn. You can also stuff some old shirts and pants with straw and make your own scarecrows and place a few of these around the perimeter of the lawn. Better yet, set up a combination for both for a bit of amusement that also happens to be quite practical.
5. Provide An Easier Feeding Area
A hungry bird is always going to seek out the easiest food source, and swooping down from its safe perch in a tree to the ground isn’t always the best option for our feathered friends. So, hang a few feeders along the treeline of your property and let the birds get their dinner from these. You can fill these feeders with sunflower seeds or a seed mix that the birds won’t be able to resist. Just remember to keep topping up the feeders. Otherwise, it’ll be open season on your lawn again.
6. Use Reflective Materials
We all have a collection of scratched CDs and DVDs we can no longer use, so before you throw them out, let them put on one more performance around your lawn. All you need is a few broom handle-type sticks placed around the lawn and connect them all with string. Once you have a nice grid set up, tie your old CDs and DVDs along the gridlines. The sun will reflect very brightly on the discs and their movement in the wind will also create a sound, both of which will scare the birds and keep them away[ii]. You can also set up reflective deterrent tape if you want a faster solution. As long as it reflects light, it will work.
7. Set Up A Motion Activated Sprinkler
With a motion-activated sprinkler, you can kill two birds with one stone without actually killing a single bird. Grass seeds need water to germinate and your sprouting lawn will need watering too. You can water at certain times of the day or you can set up a motion-activated sprinkler to water the lawn and keep the birds away. This type of sprinkler activates when birds fly into the law area and the sudden onset of spraying water will scare the birds away and water the lawn at the same time.
8. Plant Extra Seeds
Even the most diligent gardener can’t develop a one-size-fits-all strategy to stop birds from eating grass seeds, so sometimes the best strategy is actually letting the birds eat the seeds. First, however, plant extra seeds to ensure you still have a thriving lawn. Most people buy seeds in packs much larger than they need to anyway, so use up all the seeds and plant extra. Then, the birds will be happily fed, and you’ll be happy when your lawn is lush and green.
9. Make Some Noise
Birds are quite skittish, so any noise or vibration is sure to act as a deterrent. Place a speaker close to the lawn and let it play sounds of machinery or even some really loud rock music to send them flying elsewhere for food. If you don’t want to hear the same sounds, you can invest in an ultrasonic bird repeller so the birds hear the noise but you don’t.
10. Oversized Pinwheels
Add a little whimsy to your lawn area and keep the birds away with oversized pinwheels. You can buy them in most garden centres but you can also make your own using brightly coloured metallic paper. The wind will turn the wheels which will also create a bit of noise and the reflective paper will also act as a deterrent to the birds. The best thing about the pinwheels is that they look pretty and are not obvious as bird repellents.
11. Try To Change The Birds Feeding Habits
Birds are very much creatures of habit and will usually swoop down to the same food source whenever it’s available. Therefore, before you plant your grass seeds, place seeds in several places at a considerable distance from your prepared lawn. Visit this spot every day or two and ensure you keep the birds’ food supply replenished. The birds will always visit the new feeding areas and as long as they find food, they won’t be interested in the seeds in your lawn.
12. Bury Your Grass Seeds
Birds are very visual creatures and will go looking for the most convenient food source. So, when you scatter your grass seeds over your lawn area, pass over the seeds with a fine rake to lightly cover the seeds. They only need to be slightly covered by soil, so the light raking is all you need[iii].
The Final Word On How To Stop Birds Eating Grass Seed
Birds making a snack out of your freshly sown lawn is the classic saga of man versus nature. However, as annoying as it may be for you, we are technically living in the birds’ territory; they are only doing what their instincts are telling them to do and that is, to survive.
Gardeners have tried and tested these tips, and they are popular because they do work. More importantly, they won’t hurt the birds. After all, the idea is to live in harmony with our feathered friends, and your lawn will grow and thrive. Even if you do end up with a few bald patches on your lawn, the seeds that succeeded will eventually spread out and cover these spots. However, if you are determined to have the perfect lawn without the bald patches, knowing how to stop birds eating grass seed and incorporating a few of these tips into your garden design will prevent the birds from raiding your lawn.
Do you have any advice on how to stop birds eating grass seed? Let us know!
Gemma Sharp is the resident writer for Love Garden Birds, a supplier of premium bird food and accessories. She has had a genuine love for our feathered friends from a young age, and has dedicated a lot of her time to learning all there is to know about them. If you’re struggling to pick the right bird feed for your garden, need help identifying a type of wild bird, or can’t decide where to put a nesting box, Gemma is the person to go to! She is passionate about sharing her years of learnt knowledge with the public. In her free time, she can be found feeding birds at home with her three young boys.