7 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Stop Birds Eating Your Grass Seed

Written by Hannah Miller. Checked by Daniel Woodley. Published to Blog on the 15th of January 2023.

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There is an old rhyme that’s been around for hundreds of years.

While there are dozens of variants, this is the most popular.

If you’re struggling with birds stealing your grass seed, this should hold you in good stead for the future:

Old gardening rhyme

I’ve grown several lawns from seeds, and I’ve also worked with gardening professionals with lots of experience, so I’d like to think I know a thing or two about this subject.

Here are 7 easy ways to stop birds from stealing your grass seed:

1) Use Bird Resistant Grass Seed

The problem of birds and other animals stealing bird seed has become such an issue for gardeners that several seed producers have started coating their seeds in a gel that:

  • Deters pests as it tastes unpleasant.
  • Soaks up moisture.
  • Speeds up the germination process.
  • Is coloured blue, so you see exactly where they are sown.

I’ve previously used coated grass seed with great success; it actually works.

If you haven’t purchased your grass seed for this year, consider Gro-Sure Gel Coated Grass Seed which is sold on Amazon.

There is only one issue I have; these products are sold in small boxes, not bulk bags and I don’t think they offer good value for money of you have a large lawn.

My Effectiveness Rating: 9/10

Coated grass eed to deter birds

2) Use a Polythene Sheet

A translucent polythene sheet is by far the most effective way to protect the grass seeds from birds, mice and other unwanted thieves.

As a bonus, the plastic sheet will also trap heat and moisture, meaning you can sow the seed slightly earlier in the spring, and they will germinate quicker.

There’s only one downside; you can’t use a plastic sheet in the summer as it will cook the ground and kill the grass.

The method is simple; sow the seeds as you normally would, then lay a sheet of polythene over the ground and secure it with pegs or bricks.

After the seeds have germinated and sprouted to a height of around 3cm, lift the sheet.

That’s it – simple!

I’ve used plastic sheets in the past to speed up the germination of and protect seeds, and it certainly works.

My Effectiveness Rating: 10/10

Weigela "Florida Variegata"

3) Garden Fleece

I own a few rolls of garden fleece, as it’s perfect for protecting my hydrangeas and other plants from the winter frost.

Fleece can also be used to sheet over the soil to protect the grass seeds from theft.

Unlike the plastic sheet, fleece is breathable so you’ll need to water through it to keep the soil moist.

It can also be used in the summer as it won’t cook freshly sown grass seeds or seedlings.

Bonus; the leftover sheet can be used to protect shrubs from winter damage.

My Effectiveness Rating: 9/10

4) Setup Fake Birds of Prey

I’ve worked with gardeners for years and have seen many of them use fake owls and hawks to scare off birds for years.

From what I know and have been told, these are usually only effective for a short period until the birds get used to them, but that’s fine for seed germination, which should take no longer than two weeks.

Just be sure to remove the fake birds of prey when you are done, assuming you want the birds to return.

While a little old-fashioned, you could also consider a scarecrow. I worked with an old gardener years ago, and he told me they do work but only for a while, and they must be relocated every few days.

My Effectiveness Rating: 4/10

5) Top Dress The Soil

Grass seed doesn’t need to be covered with soil, it can just be sowed directly onto the surface of the soil.

However, if the seeds are on the surface, I’ve found that they are far more likely to be eaten by birds.

Consider dressing soil over the seeds to shield them. Provided no more than 1cm of soil is used, I’ve found that they will still germinate.

My Effectiveness Rating: 5/10

6) Sow The Seeds at Optimal Times (or create perfect conditions)

The best time to sow grass seeds is in the autumn or spring when the ground is warm and moist.

In winter, the seeds may not germinate at all or may take much longer.

I’ve sown seeds in the summer, and I’ve found that the excess heat and lack of water can prolong the germination process, giving the birds more time to steal the seeds.

In short, the birds are less likely to eat the grass seeds if you can get them to germinate as quickly as possible.

If the seeds can’t be sowed in the spring or autumn, I suggest you frequently water them to prevent the soil from drying out and to speed up the germination process.

My Effectiveness Rating: 5/10

7) Sow More Seed Than You Need

Going back to the old rhyme “one in every four seeds will grow”:

4 seeds in a row

One for the mouse

One for the crow

One to rot

And one to grow

In short; sow more than you need!

My Effectiveness Rating: 7/10

Methods That Don’t Work

In theory, birds should be attracted to bird feeders or piles of seed that you leave out for them, and they should eat this instead of your grass seed.

I tried this, but when I left out different types of seeds, they just attracted more species of birds, and a feeding frenzy ensued.

I’ve heard of gardeners’ leaving out fruit peels or similar foodstuffs but I feel this is unlikely to deter unwanted animals. It never worked in my flowerbeds when I tried it.

Meet The Author: Hannah Miller

Hannah is a former NHS administrator, mother of two and keen gardener with a horticulture qualification who loves growing new plants and experimenting in the garden.

She enjoys gardening as much as she cares about the environment and likes to share her knowledge with others.

This year is all about pollinators, and Hannah has set herself the goal of only buying new plants that attract pollinators; she aims to make the garden as bee and butterfly friendly as possible.

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