Lawn Care

How to Keep Birds from Eating Grass Seed

7 Easy Ways to Prevent Grass Seed "Thievery"

So you’re wondering do birds eat grass seed. Or maybe you’re putting a new yard together (or just planting patches of grass in unsightly areas), and thinking – Is there a grass seed birds won’t eat?

Wild birds do eat grass seed, in fact, they will eat “any grass seed – period”. We know you only want to plant your grass seed once, – so let’s answer the question – How do I keep Birds off my Grass Seed?

Today we’ll share some easy methods of keeping birds out of the garden, and 7 ways to keep the birds from eating your grass seed before you get it to germinate!

Keep those pesky birds off your new grass seed!

Curious to know how long grass seed takes to grow? Read all about it in our article here!

7 Steps To Protect Grass Seed from Birds

We know not everybody has the time (or the want to) needed to read lengthy articles about birds, how they can ruin a yard, and how to stop them in their tracks, because let’s face it, birds eat grass seed. That is why we put together a few quick tips for you to follow.

Here are 7 tips to keep birds from eating grass seeds.

  1. Lay down straw
  2. Put down mulch
  3. Put burlap sacks over the grass seed
  4. Scare them off (the most fun way)
  5. Use noise-making products
  6. Mylar Tape
  7. Distractions

These are just simple tips, and there is a lot more detail involved in this process. If you want to understand how to use these methods fully, continue reading on.

Lay Down Straw

You’ve probably seen this about a hundred times before, but maybe never understood exactly why that straw was there. It’s pretty simple though, the straw keeps the seeds protected from its number one enemy.

The Process

Laying down straw isn’t rocket science, all you need to do is lay down a thin layer of it on top of the seeds that you just planted. It is important you do this right after you do the planting. Try to cover at least three-quarters of the grass seed. Of course, it would be best if you can cover 100% of the seeds, but we know that’s a tall task.

Laying the straw also helps to keep the seeds in place on some of those abnormally windy days you are bound to get in the fall and spring months. Try and get the seeds about an inch into the ground before covering them with the straw. You can use a rake to help with it.

After Germination

Once the seeds have germinated, you will need to remove the straw. Once the grass germinates, it will require a lot of sunlight in order to grow. The straw (even if it’s only a thin layer of it) will cut down severely on the amount of light that gets through. Effectively killing the sprouts before they ever become fully grown.

Make sure you remove the straw as gently as possible.  Some people suggest using a rake to get the straw out, but we recommend doing it by hand.

Put Down Mulch

This is pretty much the same as putting down straw, with the only difference being that it is mulch instead of straw. There is one added benefit of the mulch though. A well-aerated lawn needs water to grow, and straw will help your soil retain its moisture, even when it is fairly warm outside. They also act as weed inhibitors as well. Basically, mulch is a highly valuable product when starting your lawn.

Process

Again, like with the straw, you will need to spread a thin layer 0f the mulch atop of the newly planted grass seed. You’ll want to use a thinner layer than you would with the straw because it is a little heavier than straw, and it doesn’t let as much light through. Cover at least 75% of the seeds, and you should be good to go.

Once the seeds germinate, remove the mulch and watch your grass sprout into a lush carpet of greenness.

Need some tips on how to Aerate your lawn? Check out our article on How to use a Lawn Aerator here!

Use Burlap Over Grass Seed

If you live in a windy climate, then mulch and straw simply won’t cut it for you. The moment the wind picks up, that straw is going to fly right off the lawn and leave your seeds vulnerable to the attack of the birds. In these cases, you can simply put down burlap sacks – or you can Buy Burlap by the Roll, and lay it directly over the seeded area.

If you’re like me, then you are probably thinking that these are way too heavy and dense for grass seeds to be able to thrive under. But these are actually pretty great for grass seed. Burlap lets water, sunlight, and heat hit the surface of the soil, giving the grass seed all the nutrients it needs.

All you have to do is lay down one layer of burlap over the seeds and plant the u-pins on the edges to keep them in place. As always, remove the burlap once the seeds germinate.

Scare the Birds before they Land!

You can get creative with your scare tactics!
You can get creative with your scare tactics!

This is a fun way to keep them out of your lawn when planting seeds, and it works well for gardens too. This is pretty much the same concept that farmers use when they put scarecrows in the fields.

Birds are creatures that are easily frightened, so it doesn’t take much to scare them into not coming into your lawn again. You can even get creative with it.

What to use

There is the age-old, tried and true method, of a scarecrow but that’s pretty weird, and it isn’t aesthetically pleasing either. Try using something else they are scared of. Rubber snakes work well since birds have an evolutionary fear of them embedded into their tiny bird brains.

You could also use plastic or wooden owls to keep them away. Of course, it looks a little silly. But hey, as long as it works right? You might try pinwheels or tin foil pans (tied to a stationary object) that move around and make a ton of noise when the wind blows.

There are tons of ways to scare the birds; my favorite is the rubber snake method. But make sure you move the decoys around every so often. Otherwise, the birds will catch onto your tricks, then the trick is on you when you wake up with seeds in the yard.

Here’s a clever way to keep the birds away!

Noise Making Devices

We aren’t talking amplifiers and speakers here. Something small will do just fine.

Birds tend to prefer being in quiet areas; it is the reason you see them around the city, community parks, and even in your backyard before everybody wakes up. You take advantage of their preference to silence by putting devices that make noise in the wind.

Chimes work very well for this, and they also add to the ambiance of your home too. You can never go wrong with wind chimes. They’ve got other things you can use if wind chimes aren’t your thing.

Check out those wooden ducks with wings that flap in the wind. Like we said earlier, just get creative. If you don’t feel like spending any extra cash (since you just spent hundreds on the seed, spreader and the soil itself), then use the aforementioned aluminum pan method. Tie them to posts you set up and let them crash around whenever the wind blows.

Grass Seed Netting

Some people opt for grass seed netting, which when laid on top of freshly sown grass seed, can act as a great barrier to protect the grass seed.  Just make sure you til the grass seed into the soil to conceal it from the birds.

Mylar Tape

This is another long-standing method that has been used by gardeners, farmers, and lawn growers for generations. Mylar tape is a metallic tape that moves freely in the wind and sparkles in the sunlight. This blinding reflection discourages birds from entering the yard, which means your grass seeds are safe.

This tape even works for larger birds like ducks and geese.

How to Set up the Tape

Setting up the tape isn’t a difficult process by any means, but it is a particular one. You’ll need to set up wooden poles or stakes at least 3 feet tall roughly five or six feet apart from each other. Next tie a strip of the tape between the poles, make sure they are crossing over (criss-cross technique works best) the newly seeded area. Ensure that you don’t have the tape too taught, you want it to move around freely when the wind blows.

The glare that comes from this metallic tape will keep the birds out of your yard for as long as you have it up.

Distractions

Distractions are a great way to diverge the bird’s attention from the newly planted grass seed to something else in the yard. Not only that, but they are also pretty nice to have around, provided that they aren’t eating your crops or your grass seed.

Even though I have said a lot of less than flattering things about birds, I don’t actually hate them. They are clearly smart creatures, and their songs bring a distinct joy to any yard.

So maybe, instead of doing everything you can to keep them out of your yard. You just invite them in, with something that keeps them out of the grass seed of course.

Put some bird feeders in the yard, hang them on trees and poles. Maybe some birdhouses, or even a birdbath. This will keep them away from your seeds, and still let them get their meals and bathes.

And the distraction isn’t just for the birds either. Watching birds play and bathe, and listening to their songs is truly enchanting. You’ll be just as distracted from your work as they will be from the grass seed. It’s a win-win situation.

Grass’s Number #1 Enemy – Birds!

Keep your grass as luscious as this while keeping the birds away!
Keep your grass as luscious as this while keeping the birds away!

There are plenty of obstacles that get in the way of having the perfect lawn. Improper planting, improper watering, improper seeding time… you get the picture. But one of the most overlooked reasons for the difficulties people have is other outside influences.

Because its a quick and easy “free meal”, it is common to see wild birds eating grass seed.  One homeowner was overheard saying he didn’t think Birds love the seed as much as they love watching him pull his hair out trying to keep them off his newly seeded lawn! Well, we’re pretty sure they’re just hungry; but since birds are one of the smartest beings in the wild kingdom, who knows!

Whatever the reason is, we can say with certainty. You must protect your lawn from wild birds if you want your grass seed to fully take root. Thankfully, there are several ways to go about this.

After Germination

The germination process doesn’t take very long – usually 5-20 days depending on conditions. Once the grass has germinated, it’s ready to mow and safe from birds and their prying eyes (save from the occasional worm they spot burrowing into the ground). At that point, you can remove your bird repellents. Actually, depending on what method you have used, it may be necessary for you to remove them.

If you have used mulch, straw, burlap, or any other method for covering the grass seed, then you should remove it the moment you start to notice that the lawn has germinated. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing all of the cash you spend and worse, you’ve wasted weeks of your time.

Now that you have lawn fully seeded and ready to germinate, Check out the Best Electric Push Mowers!

Wrap-Up

Growing out your lawn is a long, tedious, and painstaking process. And once you’ve got everything planted and put in the ground correctly, that doesn’t mean your work is done. Now you have to protect all of your hard work and investment from outside dangers.

Some people just plant 50% more seed to cover any seeds lost to birds, trampled on, or anything else that could prevent growing a nice full lawn. Instead of leaving it up to chance, take some additional measures to keep your lawn safe during its most vulnerable few weeks. Follow any one of these techniques, and you’ll stop the birds from attacking the ground just long enough to get the glorious lawn you have always wanted.

Thanks for visiting and checking out our Reviews along the way.  We hope to see you again soon!

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Kevin

As a Homeowner, Builder, and Property Developer/Manager for 30+ years, I’ve worn a lot of “different hats”, and In that capacity, owned or used about every tool or piece of home equipment one can think of. Managing property in Michigan, Arizona, and Florida, also allows us to test many of the products we review firsthand, and in vastly different climates and conditions. Our goal at BestHomeGear.Com is to share the first-hand experience by providing exceptional Home & Garden Techniques, Product Reviews, and useful DIY Guides for our faithful readers - Homeowners like you. We trust you will find BestHomeGear.Com very informative - and extremely helpful.

2 Comments

  1. I’m looking for a product for planting grass.
    It looks similar to a green carpet that will keep birds from eating the grass seed.
    One style of this carpet has the grass seed already in it. As the grass grows through the carpet, the carpet gradually
    evaporates. I need help in the name of this product.
    Thank You
    Pat

    1. Pat
      Thanks for the inquiry…I believe you’re referring to a Grass Mat, which is a prefabricated matting with grass seed, fertilizer included. You only need to grade the area, place the mat in an area with plenty of sunshine, and water. In about 10 days the grass should begin germination. Good luck and thanks for visiting BestHomeGear.Com
      PS: You can check grass mats here: https://www.homedepot.com/p/Pennington-18-ft-x-39-in-Seed-Starter-Mat-100083888/100662155
      Kevin

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