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How to keep birds from eating grass seeds

Updated November 21, 2016

One of the most common goals among homeowners is the cultivation of a lawn of bright green grass. Starting a new lawn from seeds is cheaper than starting it from sod, and seeds are a handy way to fill in bare patches. They also give gardeners a greater variety of grass types to choose from. Once you have tilled, hoed, planted, raked and watered, it can be more than a bit distressing to spy a flock of local birds making a lunch out of all your hard work. While it's true that birds eat seeds, that doesn't mean they have to eat your seeds. Follow the steps below to put the brakes on the bird buffet.

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  1. Buy grass seed that is chemically treated to repel birds.

  2. Place grass seed in a large, heavy-duty trash bag. Add an equal amount of compost and mix. Tie the bag loosely and leave it in a warm place for 5 days. The seeds will sprout while inside the bag. Spread the mixture across the area in need of seeding. Birds only like seeds, and will not be interested in the grass once the seeds have germinated.

  3. Cover any seeds sowed directly into the soil by raking ¼ inch of topsoil over them. Then pat the soil down. With no seeds on the surface, the birds won't be encouraged to stop in the first place.

  4. Outline the newly planted area with wooden stakes. Tie large strips of Red Flash Tape to each stake. The tape flutters in the breeze, creating bright sliver flashes which scare birds off. Alternatively, run a string from stake to stake with strips of foot-long aluminium foil attached to the string. Place one strip of aluminium every 2 feet around the perimeter.

  5. Cut a slit in an old tennis ball. Squeeze the ball to create an opening and insert the end of a garden hose. Use a permanent marker to draw eyes and a mouth with two prominently displayed fangs. Create a nose by forming an "X" with strips of yellow tape. Arrange the hose in a wavy pattern across the seeded area. Birds will think this is a snake and will instinctively stay away.

  6. Tip

    Other decoys are available in garden centres: owls, alligators, wolves, coyotes, foxes, etc. If you purchase one of these to place in your seeded area, make sure you select an animal that is indigenous to your area.

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Things You'll Need

  • Anti-bird grass seed
  • Compost
  • Large black trash bags
  • Wooden stakes
  • Red Flash Tape (see Resources)
  • String
  • Aluminium foil
  • Rake
  • Tennis ball
  • Garden hose, 7 feet long
  • Permanent marker
  • Yellow tape

About the Author

Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.

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