Like one man’s loss can be another’s gain, one nature’s bird can be a gardener’s headache. If you’re suffering from an excess of birds in your veggie patch – the likely culprit is mulch. Its moist nature and the breakdown of its natural components create a breeding ground for grubs and insects. And while some birds are seed-eaters only, other species prefer a juicy worm to keep their energy levels up.
If you’re looking to keep your young plants safe from the mischief of the flying menace, you just got lucky. We’ve compiled 10 inventive ways for you to keep the bird population out of your mulch and safeguard your vegetable garden. All you need to do is scroll down and learn more!
10 ways to keep birds away from your garden mulch
The good thing about living in this century is that we’re concerned about the welfare of humans and animals alike. Did you know that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service‘s department penalises trapping, killing, or possessing wild birds? Their protective list doesn’t include species like sparrows, pigeons, or starlings, but overall it’s a pretty comprehensive list.
Residents of Great Britain should know that the 250 wild bird species (including pigeons and blackbirds) are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – which means you might want to read up on the protection offered to local birds before defending your flower beds against them.
Thankfully, all the bird-repellent methods on our list are bird-friendly. That means there’s no harming, killing, or any other inhumane practice of warding off avifauna.
Since doing away with mulch isn’t an option for budding gardeners with garden beds to protect – our list offers several problem-free ways to help you with keeping birds away from your plants.
1. Scare birds away with old CDs
Do you have a stack of ancient CDs that are collecting dust and taking up precious space in the attic? If yes, then try the old CD scaring method to keep birds away from the garden.
You’ll need two wooden stakes and some fishing lines for this project. Start by driving the stakes into the ground on opposite sides of your vegetable bed. Then connect the stakes with the help of the fishing cord. Be sure to tie it off properly to ensure it doesn’t give away in a few days.
You should have an extended length of the fishing line running across your garden bed. Next, cut out several pieces from the remaining fishing string, measuring about 60cm long, and tie them off to the lateral fishing line. Be sure to leave a 30cm gap between each piece of string.
Tie a CD of each vertical strings’ ends and run the string through the hole in the CD. Once the CDs are in place, their movement and reflection will scare the birds from venturing too close to the garden.
2. Put up mylar balloons
You can stop birds digging into your mulch by setting up foil balloons in a few strategic spots. But, exercise caution with this method because mylar balloons are renowned helium-filled conductors of electricity. A stray balloon near a power line can cause quite an uproar and isn’t something you want on your hands.
Tie off the strings of the foil balloons to a large rock or brick to ensure it doesn’t float away to cause any trouble. Also, try picking balloons with faces on them to keep the birds guessing. It’s also a good idea to keep moving the placement of the decoys to make sure the avian-raiders don’t get too comfortable with any setting.
3. Utilise a DIY scarecrow
There’s a reason why scarecrows are called scarecrows. Plus, scarecrows are inexpensive and quick to make – and you likely have all the supplies you need to make them at home.
Just take care to make your scarecrow as human-like in its standing as possible because this will definitely help the birds from pecking at your mulch without harming their place in the ecosystem.
4. Resort to bird netting
Strangely enough, seed-loving birds are troublesome when you’re laying out grass seeds for a new bed. In this situation, mulching can actually help keep the birds away. However, if that’s not working either, you can opt to put up garden netting (with wooden stakes) to stop birds from eating grass seeds.
Make sure the edges of the netting cover up the entire seedbed, or the birds will find a way to get munching again.
5. Invest in bird feeders to distract the birds
Get yourself some inexpensive bird feeders to set up away from the garden space or build a bird table. This will help lure the birdies away from the mulch and keep them busy in another area of your backyard. Plus, you can always make one yourself as a DIY project.
You can fill up one feeder with seeds and use suet (dried-out fat) for the other one. Doing so will help you draw away most kinds of avian species – no matter their dietary preference. It’s also a good idea to set up a feeding tray with water nearby for the birds to allow them to replenish themselves.
6. Set up streamers
Another fantastic way to keep the birds off your garden floor and out of trouble is setting up lots of big, broad plastic streamers that flutter in the wind. Ribbon stripes are readily available on most major retail sites, and they’re effortless to set up.
All you need is long wooden stakes, some plastic chicken wire mesh, and a pack of plastic ribbons. Take that, blackbirds! They won’t dare venture close once the stripes are in place and flapping away in the breeze.
7. Bird repellent spray
Legend has it that mixing a few drops of cayenne pepper oil with a few tablespoons of vinegar and water makes for the perfect bird-repellent spray. Pour the mixture in a spray bottle and spritz your plants regularly to ensure the birds keep off them.
You can also try replacing cayenne oil with garlic oil if the first mixture isn’t working like it’s supposed to.
8. Plastic owls
Invest in a plastic screech owl or two and set them up in several locations around your newly-sprouted seedlings. Some plastic decoys even come equipped with a motion detector, flashing lights, and owl screech sounds to help scare the birds off your garden.
Although, it’s best not to get too complacent and keep moving the plastic sculptures to make sure the birds don’t figure out the owls are fake.
9. Try inorganic mulch
Organic mulching with wood chips, grass clippings, etc., has the capacity to become a breeding ground for insects – which attracts birds.
However, inorganic compost that includes materials like pea gravel, granite, or lava rock can make for a better choice because it doesn’t attract insects or break down like regular mulch. That means inorganic compost can help you steer clear of birds and save you money in the long run by not requiring frequent replacement.
10. Put up a birdbath
You can use diversion tactics and attract the birds away from the garden by setting up a birdbath in another far off area. Birdbaths tend to attract birds in hot weather when they require cooling down or need water to quench their thirst. Pairing off a bath with feeders in close range will increase your chances of birds frequenting another area of your yard. You can try turning it into a crafting project and build one on your own.
Last year, quite a few readers reached out to us with their bird problems looking for viable solutions. That’s what prompted us to compile and set out bird-safe repelling techniques. Remember that while birds eating or digging through the compost is an annoyance, their presence is essential for the bionetwork.
Birds can also help keep pest levels in check to ensure your plants thrive, which is why you shouldn’t ever resort to any measure that can harm them. Hopefully, one or more of the solutions highlighted in our guide will work wonders for you and save the day by saving your mulch.