Stop Birds Eating my Grass Seed
Whether you're planting grass seed for a new lawn or just seeding a few patches birds can be a problem so here are some ways to stop birds eating your seed.
Which Birds Eat Grass seed?
Ground feeding seed eating birds are the problem ones. So not magpies, unlikely to be blackbirds but definitely could be pigeons, sparrows and some finches. One or two small birds aren't going to be a problem but a couple of resident pigeons could be.
Straw or Mulch Grass Seed Covering - 1/10
I've heard this suggested but can see endless problems so pass on this idea.
Bird Scarers to Protect Lawn Seed - 2/10
Anything from a kiddies windmills on a stick, to balloons and streamers. All have possibilities but birds soon get used to them so perhaps best give the kids back their stuff or save your money.
Diversionary Food Strategy - 3/10
Put some food out that is of greater interest to the birds than your grass seed. Let's face it, grass seed does not look very appetising so sunflower seeds, bird food specific to ground feeding birds, rice or sultanas are all possibilities. Bird feeders are useless as they take too long for birds to be attracted to them and ground birds that eat your seed aren't all going to go on a bird feeder!
Quick Start Seeds or Fast Grass - 3/10
A nice idea in that the seed has a nutrient coating to speed germination so it spends less time as a seed. It still takes 4 days in ideal conditions so long enough for the birds to decimate your very expensive seed bed!
A Fine Mesh Netting - 5/10
Similar to one that you would use to cover fruit bushes but you need to ensure it is supported off the ground otherwise birds will be able to get to the seed. Could be very effective but cost and setting it up could be problematic.
Bird Repellent Grass Seed - 5/10
A coating is added to the seed to make it taste bad to the birds. Most work to a greater or lesser degree but we stopped selling it after we'd experienced pigeons munching quite happily on it!
You may be lucky but there are other downsides apart from unreliability such as very high cost and limited grass choice.
Simple Grass Seed Protection Strategy - 7/10
Simple, quick and relatively cost effective. Just sow half as much grass seed again. Half for the birds and the rest for the new lawn! Perfect if you can't protect the area due to size or location and also relatively inexpensive. In addition, if the birds don't eat the seed you've got a thicker lawn sooner. What's not to like?
A word of caution. If you are seeding patches you could go overboard and completely cover the patch in grass seed. This has two main problems: it is more obvious to the birds and if too much remains the patch will grow into a dense tuft causing visual and mowing problems. Normally we say 10 - 20 seeds per square inch is the right amount for patching so doubling the amount is plenty for you, the lawn and the birds.
Garden Fleece - 8/10
Very effective protection and serves to raise soil temperature to speed germination. Allows rain in which may be a good thing but allows evaporation out which means you're still going to need to water the seed if it doesn't rain.
I like this for when you want to over seed in warm weather as it allows any grass underneath to breath and not cook.
Price at time of writing in 2022 around £38 for 4m x 20m.
Polythene Sheeting - 10/10
No questions asked this is the No 1 best way to protect grass seed. For more advice see the next page.