Birds are one of the most beautiful wildlife creatures that make our yards and nature feel complete. They play an important role in our ecosystem, and just their existence helps plants and nature grow around us.
But birds can sometimes present a challenge if they start eating what you are trying to grow, especially grass seed.
If you don’t know how to keep birds from eating grass seed, you’re going to end up spinning your wheels and potentially spending unnecessary money trying without any positive results to show for it.
But don’t worry. We’re here to help.
We’re going to cover three different methods for making sure your grass seed stays in place. They include:
- Protecting grass seed from birds
- Scaring birds away
- Distracting the birds
We’ll give a few examples in each area so you can pick the option that will work best for your specific situation.
Protect Grass Seed from Birds
Consider this the defensive approach to prevent birds from eating grass seed. There are a few ways to protect new grass seed from birds picking away before germination has started.
After sowing new grass seed, try laying down a thin layer of mulch on top of the area. Something like straw mulch will work great and is fairly inexpensive. Make sure not to pack the mulch on too heavy or your newly planted seeds won’t get enough water or sunlight every day. You also don’t want to go too light on it either or birds may find a way to pick through the mulch. Also, consider the amount of wind in your area as this can easily blow the mulch away.
Once the seeds have germinated, it’s important to remove the mulch from the area to allow for proper growth and water absorption. This can be done carefully with a rake or by hand.
Burlap Rolls or Sheets
Putting burlap over grass seed is a great alternative to straw, and even offers a few additional benefits. The materials used in burlap allows for water and sunlight to properly touch your seeds in the early growing stages. They are also going to be better protected as birds will have a near-impossible time picking their way through a burlap sheet. Additionally, if you live in an area that gets a fair amount of wind, covering grass seed with burlap is going to be a safer bet. You will need to nail the sheets to the ground or put something heavy like a rock on the corners to make sure the sheets don’t blow away.
Burlap is going to probably cost you a little more upfront, but it is reusable and you don’t have to worry about a lot of additional work once the seeds start to germinate.
Using a net to protect grass seed from birds is another option, similar to using burlap. The use of netting for grass seed is often to help prevent seeds from moving around, especially on slopes or high erosion areas. But they can also help make sure you have grass seed that birds will not eat.
You’ll most likely have to post a few stakes around the lawn if you want to use netting to protect grass seed from birds. Pull the netting over the entire area and attach the ends to the stakes, somewhere between 2 and 3 inches above the surface below. This will help make sure the birds can’t reach through the openings in the net, while also not having enough room for them to enter below.
Bird Repellent Grass Seed
There are types of grass seed that are coated with a chemical formula treatment. It’s harmless to birds, but they tend to dislike the taste. This could work, but the biggest drawback is they can take longer to germinate. This can be an issue if you have a tight planting window. A longer grass seed germination might also bring additional weeds whose seeds were placed in the area the season before.
The upfront work with bird repellent grass seed is minimal, but you might be left with more work later.
Scaring Birds Away
This is the more offensive approach to prevent birds from eating grass seed. The idea is to keep birds away from the area entirely instead of protecting the grass seed directly with mulch or sheets. There are a few effective ways to do this.
Bird Scare Tape
Bird scare tape, or bird repellent tape is a type of reflective tape that makes noise when moving in the wind. The combination of flashing from the reflective material and roaring sounds from the tape in the wind should be enough to keep birds away from grass seed. It’s been known to be effective in keeping birds out of other plants as well and can even be used if you have a problem with birds nesting in an area around your house.
To install reflective bird tape, it’s best to cut pieces between 8 and 12 inches. At the end of each piece, attach two 3 inch pieces of duct tape, facing each other with the strip of bird tape in the middle. If you don’t have duct tape, any sturdy tape like electrical tape should work as well. Use a three-hole punch to put a hole in the duct tape portion of the strip. Put a piece of string through the hole and tie the entire piece to garden stakes or anything stationary around the area.
Garden pinwheels can also work well if you have them lying around. Make sure they are reflective so the shining scares the birds away, as the sound might not be enough. These can also be used to keep birds away from fruits like figs and grapes.
There are several predatory animals that birds are afraid of, which you can use to your advantage. Placing a noticeable decoy hawk or snake can help keep birds away and your grass seed safe. It’s important to make sure birds can see them from a distance, so place the decoy in a visible area.
Birds are also incredibly smart and will eventually realize the decoy is not real and no longer consider it a threat. You’ll want to move it around every few days for the entire period until your grass seed begins to germinate. This is incredibly important if you’re growing something that takes a little longer like Kentucky bluegrass.
Finally, you might want to consider what time of the day you have issues with birds eating grass seed. If it’s during the day, a fake hawk or snake might work better as it coincides with the animals’ regular hunting routines. If the issue is at night, a decoy owl will probably be more effective as they are nocturnal. We also wouldn’t recommend going overboard with the decoys in a smaller area. Adding a decoy snake and hawk so closely together might not be believable to birds, thus making them ineffective.
Birds don’t like things that shine and create a reflection of the sun or make a lot of movement and noise. You can try anything lying around your house that fits this description.
For example, if you have old CDs, tie a few of them to a piece of string and then tie this device to something stationary around your grass seed. The wind will spin the CDs, creating a shine off the sun. It probably won’t be as effective as bird scare tape, but if you need something in a pinch, this should work.
Distract the Birds
Put Food Somewhere Else
There’s nothing wrong with trying a friendlier approach right?
Try hanging a few bird feeders somewhere else around the area and it might distract the birds away from your grass seed. Birds tend to flock to an area together once they know there is food available, so if you take this route, make sure you are stocked well with birdseed. Depending on how many bird feeders you have and the germination period for your specific grass seed, you could end up refilling the bird feeders daily.
Stop Birds from Eating Grass Seed
You should now have a better idea of how to keep birds away from grass seed and can start planning the best method for your particular situation. Try something out. If it doesn’t work, try something else. It’s important to always remember that birds are intelligent creatures. And they are hungry.
The one suggestion we didn’t really cover is just to plant more grass seed to compensate for what the birds are going to eat anyway. If you end up doing this, it’s suggested to lay down 50% more grass seed and you should be okay by the time it germinates. This tends to be more time-consuming and costly, but it can work.
Enjoy your new grass!