How to stop birds eating grass seed

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How to stop birds eating your Grass Seed

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When you sow grass seed, you want to give it the best chance of survival against the competition in the soil.

Though the soil isn’t the only challenge. You’re also competing against wild animals who love to come and go from your garden. Birds are the biggest culprits for stealing grass seed. Especially when you’re sowing a new lawn from scratch.

So, what can you do to stop birds eating your grass seed?

In this post I’m giving you some tried and tested methods that will go a long way to helping your seed survive.

They are all designed to give no harm to any birds that try to take the seed. I.e. I’m not talking about killing them. However frustrated you might get.

Remember though, birds on a lawn isn’t always a bad thing. If you haven’t sown seed, then the chances are that you’ll have Magpies or pigeons digging for worms.

This simply means that there’s a high level of microbial activity in the soil, which is actually a good thing for lawns. As long as it doesn’t become too much of course.

Anyway, the first method is my personal favourite.

Hang CDs or foil across on a string

This one works by way of creating reflective shines that move in the wind. Making the birds think there’s something or someone there. They tend to swoop down and when they notice the moving foil or CD, they swoop back up again.

As a guide, if you have a 70 m2 lawn, and say each side is approximately 10m2 x 7m2, then you’ll need 3 lots of string across the lawn. With foil spaced at approximately 1-2 metres apart on the string.

If you don’t put enough across at the right intervals, then the birds will just dodge the line and you’ll end up looking over it, while they’re eating your seed.

Cover the seed with compost or topsoil to hide it from the birds

If you’re only doing an overseed and thinking of doing a top dress anyway, then this will help a lot to stopping the birds from eating the seed. So, you need to apply the top dress AFTER the sowing for this to be effective.

Covering the seed is a super simple way of hiding it from the birds. However, it’s not always the cheapest way if you’re doing a large lawn.

For example, you’re gonna need around 100 kilos just to do a 100m2 lawn.

Place netting or fleece over the seed

Be careful here. You don’t want the birds to get their heads trapped in the netting. We’re not trying to kill any of God’s creatures.

Anyway, one option is to place a full length of netting or transparent fleece over the seed to stop the birds being able to land or walk on it.

One of the reasons the birds don’t go in it is because they don’t like the feeling of the netting on their feet.

Deter the birds with unusual sounds

Using sounds that birds don’t like, or makes them believe something dangerous is lurking, will help keep them out of your garden for the short term.

One option is to use a recording of a bird of prey. Instead of playing it 24/7 you could simply play it in the morning and evening when the birds are at their most active.

Set up fake birds of prey (owls or hawks)

You can usually buy these from any garden centre. They are sometimes used to look nice in the garden. But they can also be used as a bird deterrent after sowing your seed. If you want to keep some sort of bird activity going on in your garden, then I wouldn’t suggest having them out all the time.

Another option is to combine this method with sounds (mentioned above) to make it even more effective towards pigeons.

Use a decoy

What I mean by a decoy is that you could put some seeds to the side of the lawn so they get eaten instead of the ones you’re using as an overseed.

Another option is to hang a bird feeder in the trees so they go there instead.

That way it doesn’t need to be grass seed, it can be any type.

Use a scarecrow

Scarecrows are very popular for keeping birds off crops in the farming industry

A bit old fashioned if you ask me and if you have a large lawn, you’re going to need a few. Or you’re going to need a big scarecrow.

If you want to go down this route, you could simply tie 2 sticks together in a t-shape and place an old jumper over the top. Put a hat on the top and ‘bobs-your-uncle’ you’re on your way to having a home-made scarecrow.

Cover the seed with straw

This is another popular tactic in the sports world. While straw can be good for stopping the animals getting to the seed, it can also prevent light from getting to it too. And we all know that any type of plant needs those 3 crucial elements to photosynthesize and thrive – Carbon Dioxide (CO2), Water and light.

So, if you want to go down this route, then be sure to remove the straw as soon as germination kicks in and you may want to shuffle it around every now and again so that you don’t keep any part in constant darkness.

In Summary

So, there you go 8 pretty simple ways that anyone can use to stop the birds eating your grass seed.

As mentioned earlier, my favourite is either the CDs or foil hanging on string. It’s relatively low cost anf fairly easy to assemble. You can also save it for the next time you want to do more growing.

Try one of them above and let us know how you get on in the comments.

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This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. aidangallagher

    Will the birds eat fertiliser also and if I cover how long before they won’t find the fertiliser attractive to eat or how long before it’s dissolved into the soil if that makes sense.

    1. Matt Adams

      I’m not an expert on birds but I’m confident they are able to identify what’s food or what’s not. Chickens, however, may confuse the fertiliser for grit so it’s important to be cautious where chickens roam.

  2. Brian

    Thanks for the info

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