Are you planning to get a new lush green lawn with a beautiful green grass carpet, but don’t know how to keep birds from eating grass seeds?
Well, you are not alone. I had faced a similar problem when I was getting a new grass-covered area in my lawn. At first, I didn’t even think about this problem. I blindly sowed the grass seed and saw birds right after landing on my yard. I then realized that this was going to be an issue to deal with.
Birds are ferocious eaters, and they pick seeds fast. When other birds see a bird feeding in your lawn, they all land together in no time. This certainly decimates any grass seed before it even had a chance to germinate even if you try to grow it on raised garden bed.
Most common grass types take around 4 to 5 weeks to germinate, so it’s not that you have to try to keep away birds for too long.
Here are some ways you can effectively counter this problem and keep birds away from eating grass seeds. This prevents the extra cost and labor of buying and sowing more seeds.
1. Remove bird food source before seeding
If you have trouble keeping birds away from your newly seeded lawn, then the first thing you should do is to change birds’ habit. Birds keep returning to the place where they find the food source.
It’s all fine to feed the birds when they are not a nuisance to your garden. But when you are sowing your yard to germinate new grass crop, then you don’t want birds to be around as they will be picking your seeds and eat it.
The first thing, you should do a week or two before you the seed is to remove any bird feeders or food source from your yard.
This will give the birds indication that it's time for them to look somewhere else. This prevent the birds from returning to your yard or invite other feeding birds.
2. Bury the grass seed in the ground
Birds are visual animals, and they get attracted to any visible food particles such as seed in the lawn. When sowing the grass seed, rake the seed, so it’s buried or covered by the topsoil.
Add a small amount of water on the topsoil to makes soil stick to the seed. This not only helps with the germination but also prevents loose soil surface which birds may find it more natural to push it around and reach to the grass seed.
3. Cover the lawn
You can create the physical barrier between the bird and the seed by covering the lawn. The benefits are two-fold as it hides the grain from the birds and also makes it hard for the bird to grab the seed.
Here are some common ways you can cover the seeded lawn.
Mulching is the best way to cover the lawn. The mulching also helps retain moisture from the ground, which supports the grass germination. It also acts as an effective protective barrier against the hungry birds.
If you are seeding in relatively colder weather, then mulching maintains the ground-level temperature, which improves the growth of the seed and prevents weeds from growing in the lawn.
When you freshly sow the seeds in your yard, expect it to take a couple of weeks for the grass to grow properly. In between that time, you have to protect the seeds and provide a suitable growth environment for the seed.
Use of burlap sheets can help you with both these goals. It allows the sunlight, moisture, and heat to pass to the soil surface while creating a visual and physical barrier from the birds.
For people living in a high wind place, mulching may not be a possible alternative due to it being blown away. This exposes the seeds which can be picked by the birds or at worse the seed may get blown away as well.
The use of burlap sheets can solve both these issues. You can nail down burlap sheet to the ground which prevents seeds from being blown away as well as protect seeds from birds. Once the germination has happened and the grass starts growing, you can easily remove the burlap sheet.
Like burlap sheets, the transparent tarp is another good option. This may be helpful if you are planting grass seeds in relatively colder weather. In these seasons, you may not want too much water on the soil. Moreover, you want to retain the heat inside and retain the moisture.
It’s perfect to use when you are germinating grass in either spring or fall. You can get started by placing the tarp on the ground and then tie it down with a wire. You can also place heavy objects such as rock, so the tarp does not get blown away.
The transparent tarp allows the sunlight to pass through the sheet and hold the ground moisture, which is essential during cold weather. However, it may not be a good option in the summer as it may cause the ground to get too hot, which may kill the seed.
Bird netting is a handy option, but it may not be a practical option in some cases such as the presence of tall trees in the lawn. But when you can use it, it protects the grass lawn seeds by stopping birds from laying their feet on the ground. A good quality bird net is made from nylon materials which are durable and weather resistant.
Using a bird net is straight forward as you place a stake around the four corners of your yard. Hook up the net to stakes on the lawn and stretch it up, so it remains a couple of inches above the ground.
This prevents the birds from reaching to the ground to pick the grass seed. As an alternative to bird netting, you can try seed germination and erosion control blanket. These are easy to install, and helps with the fast growth of the seeds while preventing it from birds.
4. Bird Deterrents
There are so many predators to the birds, which makes them overly cautious and fearful. You can take it to your advantage and deploy tactics which scares the bird to land on your yard.
Here are some easy to implement strategies to deter birds.
You may have seen farmers using the scarecrow in their fields to keep birds away. Similarly, by using a scarecrow, you can prevent birds from landing in your yard. You don’t have to go through the hassle of covering or deploying other means.
The scarecrows are cheap to buy and do not require any maintenance. Once you set it up, it works as long as you need it. The only downside with scarecrow is that it’s not useful for a long duration.
Birds quickly notice that there is no danger to them from these life-less scarecrows. And they soon start ignoring the scarecrows and get in your yard in no time. But it’s still an effective short-term solution.
Use of dummy predators such as decoy owls, hawks, or even plastic snakes can be useful in scaring birds away. You can place these decoys at highly visible areas so birds can see it from a distance and don’t realize that it's fake.
Placing it at the center of the lawn or around the corners may be the most suitable place to use these dummy predators. But like a scarecrow, birds will quickly realize that these are harmless predators and will start ignoring it.
The best option when using dummy predators is to keep changing its position every 3 or 4 days, so these are not at the same spot.
If you need a more effective solution, then you can use motion-activated animals and birds repellent. The motion sensor sprays the water when it identifies the birds of animals reaching a certain distance. This not only helps with watering your lawn but also becomes an effective deterrent to the birds trying to feed on the grass lawn seeds.
Loud and sudden noise spooks the birds and makes them fly away. When choosing noise deterrent for birds, you want something which is not too loud, as it may become inconvenient to you or the neighbors.
So, pick a noise generator which creates enough noise to scare the birds while not being distracting to humans.
The most common way to generate noise to keep birds away is wind chimes. These tiny little instruments produce the soothing sound when the wind blows through it. These inconsistent sounds scare the birds right away.
You can hang these on your patio or hang it through the tree branch. If you don’t want wind chimes, then you can use tin cans or cutlery tied up with a string and hang it around.
6. Reflective Deterrent
The reflective deterrent such as hanging CD or DVD or reflecting tapes scares the birds by shining lights into birds’ eye. It confuses the bird and prevents it from adapting to the surrounding environment. Tie up the string to the CD or DVDs and hang them 1 to 2 feet apart.
Here’s a quick video on how to correctly use CD and DVD to scare birds away.
If you don’t have CD or DVD lying around, then you can buy hanging bird reflector tape. These are cheap and effective to scare birds. When hanging these reflective tapes, keep it loose and separated so it can move around with a wind.
These reflective deterrents work best in the sunlight when most birds actively feed. I found this holographic reflective deterrent which also produces sound on winds blowing to be effective in scaring birds both at day and night.
Garden Pin Wheel
The garden pinwheels are the shiny moving objects which scares the birds away. The bright and shiny pinwheels are easier to install, and it spins automatically with a wind.
These also act as a decorative feature for your yard while stopping birds getting in your lawn.
Set of 8 pinwheels which are natural and humane bird deterrent. These also act as a decorative feature for any yard or garden. The pin wheels are 7 inches wide and stand 19 inches tall.
7. Give Birds Easy Meal
For birds, it takes lots of effort in trying to find the seeds from the ground. You can keep them away from the targeted lawn area by luring them with easy feed away from the garden lawn.
Hanging a visible bird feeder away from the lawn draws the attention of birds toward that area. It prevents the bird from paying attention to the grass lawn seeds and invites it to pick delicious seeds from the bird feeder.
The only downside is that you will be attracting more birds in your yard. So make sure to maintain the distance between the lawn and feeder.
8. Home Pets
If you have pets such as a dog or cat, then you can give them work to keep birds away. By letting your pets go outside in the lawn drives the birds away. Plus, its’ a fun exercise for your pet to chase away any bird which dares to land on your yard.
9. Apply extra seeds
Here is the deal, none of the above strategies’ standalone is full proof. Regardless of how actively you defend your newly planted grass seeds, there will always be some chance that some of it will be either eaten by birds, blown away by wind or simply rot before germinating.
If you don’t want patchy growth of grass in your yard, then apply extra grass seed in your yard. This will compensate for any grass seed loss for whatever reason. Using 25% to 30% extra grass seed is an ideal balance to get the fully-grown grass without overcrowding it in your yard.
Over to you
Knowing how to keep birds away from eating grass seed is essential to get a healthy-looking lawn. There is not a single strategy which is completely effective in stopping newly planted seeds from being picked by birds.
In the beginning, start by trying a few of the above strategies and if you don’t see good results, then move on to the next one. You may also try implementing a couple of them altogether.
Based on your circumstance, some of the strategies may be more effective than others. Knowing how to keep birds from eating grass seed and devising a right plan may involve some guessing work.
But once you correctly deploy it, it will be far cheaper to spend the extra money and get right bird deterrent than redoing your yard.