Sunday, 24 November 2013

How to stop birds eating grass seed

          Planting a new lawn from seed takes a lot of work. You have to completely
prepare the soil beforehand. Generally, this involves tilling it thoroughly test its pH
to make sure it is optimal for grass seed, and amending it with well-finished fertilizer
or lime. That by itself is a few days’ worth of work. Then there is planting the seed
and watering it two or three times a day until it becomes established.
          So there is nothing worse than going through all of that effort only to find that
birds have gotten there before the seed has rooted and eaten it all. Not only does
that wind up making all of your effort wasted, it costs a bit of money, too. This is
true whether you are seeding an entirely new lawn, overseeding for the winter, or
just filling in patches and bare spots on the lawn.
          Fortunately, there are a few easy solutions to stop birds eating grass seed.
One of the easiest – and most effective – methods is to use bird netting. Bird netting
is available at most garden supply shops, and if it’s used properly, it will prevent
pesky birds from getting anywhere near your fresh grass seeds.
          Bird netting comes in rolls. Plant stakes opposite one another along the sides
of the freshly seeded lawn at intervals as wide as the roll, and then stretch the netting across the lawn from one side to the other at a height of two or three inches.
This will be high enough to stop birds eating grass seed, because they won’t be
getting to the seed from above, but still low enough to keep them from hopping in
beneath it.
          There are a few other steps you can take to augment the netting and help
make absolutely certain that you have done everything to stop birds eating grass
seed. Birds are frightened away by moving shiny objects, so plant brightly colored,
metallic pinwheels at intervals around the lawn. Or, if you do not have any
pinwheels, attach strips of shiny Mylar to the stakes you stretched the netting over.
          Birds are also easily startled by loud, sudden noises. Hang a few tin or
aluminum pie plates from string near the new lawn; when the wind blows the plates
will clang together, frightening away any birds that might be eyeing your yard. You
can also play recordings of songbird distress calls or raptor screeches in your yard,
which will also go a long way to keeping hungry birds out of your yard. MP3
recordings of these birds are available for free at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s
website as well as others.
          If you apply all of these techniques, you can rest assured that your new seed
will be safe from hungry birds. As a side note, it is worth saying that you will
probably not have much luck with stationary scarecrows or owl effigies. Birds are
not at all stupid, and after observing a motionless silhouette for a while they will
figure out pretty quickly that it isn’t real.

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