How To Keep Birds Out Of Your Garden

Last Updated on August 25, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Birds can be a nuisance to your garden. They can eat the seeds you just planted, dig up newly planted bulbs, and they have been known to devastate fruit crops if left unchecked. Luckily for you, there are many ways to keep birds out of your garden. Let’s discuss some of them.

1. Use deterrents like thorns and strong scents

plant garlic

Plant thorny bushes or vines around your garden to deter birds. They don’t like to fly into thorny bushes. Wear gloves when pruning, so you won’t get scratched while tending your garden.

Plant pepper or chili peppers around the perimeter of your garden. Birds do not like them and refuse to come near them. Also, birds are repelled by strong scents such as garlic and onions. Plant these around the perimeter of your garden.

2. Hang wind chimes from the trees in your garden to scare away birds

wind chimes hanging from the tree

Birds do not like certain sounds. Hang wind chimes from the trees in your garden to scare them away. Hang the chimes at a time the birds are most likely to come to your garden.

Birds will associate the chimes with danger and avoid them. Gas cannons, propane cannons, predator calls, or other noisemakers will work to scare them away too.

3. Use bird netting on top of plants and bushes

bird netting

Bird netting will ensure that birds are unable to land on top of your plants and bushes. You can purchase it at most nurseries or you can make your own.

Simply take a piece of nylon mesh, stretch it over the top of your plant, and secure onto two stakes near the plant so birds cannot get under the netting.

You can use netting on fruits and vegetables and it is one of the best methods to protect fruit or vegetable crops. Simply stretch the nylon mesh over your plants and secure it with stakes to keep birds from getting at your precious crop.

You can even purchase bird netting that has little holes in it for the plants to grow through. The holes are too small for birds to be able to get through.

4. Make a scarecrow

vegetable garden with scarecrow

Scarecrows have been used for centuries to ward off birds. They can be homemade or store bought. Simply place it in the garden and watch as it works to keep pesky birds away from your plants, veggies, fruit and more.

This may not work with all birds, for example, woodpeckers. They are not scared by them and will still peck away at your plants. But it will certainly work with other birds.

5. Use bird spikes

Bird spikes look like little razor blades that you stick into the ground around the perimeter of your garden. They are pretty and effective. Different sizes are available to fit specific needs.

6. Use human hair as another natural scarecrow  

using human hair as scarecrow

Human hair scares the birds because they think it looks like snakes. They stay away from it and leave your plants alone. Put small pieces of human hair all around your garden or at least along the perimeter. This is a great cheap way to keep the birds out of your garden.

7. Use chemical and other deterrents if nothing else works  

If you have tried everything and still cannot seem to keep those pesky birds out of your yard, consider using bird-specific pesticide products.

There are many types available including gels, sprays and powders. There is even bird seed repellent for farmers that works which you can purchase at most home and garden stores

8. Fake movement in your garden

Motion-activated sprinklers can be found at most nurseries or hardware stores. These work by spraying water when the sunlight hits them or when motion is detected nearby. Place one in front of your garden to scare away wild birds.

The best part about these is that they run on batteries, so you don’t have to worry about a power cord.

The birds will think the sprinkler is a dangerous animal and avoid it. Just be sure to get one that is the right size for your garden because if it’s too small, birds won’t be afraid of it.

9. Put out fake owls and hawks as well as other animal decoys

fake owls in garden

The birds that attack your garden have natural enemies, like crows, foxes, and raccoons. Make sure the decoys meant to imitate them are  made out of durable materials.

If they are made out of plastic, the birds will just sit on top of them and poop all over them. Plastic owls do not look realistic to the birds. No bird is going to believe that a plastic owl will hunt or eat it

10. Use rubber snake in the garden so that when birds notice them they will fly away at once

Rubber snakes scare the birds because they think it’s alive and that there are other snakes around too. Birds do not like to be scared so this is a great way to keep them out of your garden.The rubber snake is realistic looking, yet hurts no one. Your children can even play with it in your garden without worrying about getting hurt.

11. Hang shiny objects

Use mirrors, CDs or aluminum pie plates on tree branches in order to scare away birds that are flying overhead. Birds will see their own reflections and assume they are being watched by a much larger bird.

12. Hang bean bags from trees

Bean bags swinging in the breeze are not only beautiful, they are also useful for keeping wild birds out of your yard. Birds are very territorial and will stay clear of areas where there is movement. The motion from the bean bag will deter the birds from hanging around your garden.

13. Remove berry-producing plants from your garden

When you begin to notice birds are taking a particular interest in your garden, remove any fruiting plants (those with berries or flowers) from your landscape.

Birds will see the berries and take them away to eat elsewhere, far from the droppings they leave in your garden, which in some cases spread disease.

14. Place a bird feeder on the other side of your fence

bird feeders on fence

The idea is to draw the birds away from your garden. You want to make sure the birds have plenty of other food so they won’t be coming to your garden for these fruits.

Related: 18+ Recycled Wine Bottle Bird Feeder Ideas

A word on using these methods

natural ways to keep birds out of garden

To get the most out of all these methods we mentioned, there are a few things you need to pay attention to. The first is birds aren’t stupid. A scarecrow that stands still will not fool them for long. If you notice them learning to ignore your scarecrow, it’s time to step up the intimidation methods.

Change the scarecrow’s location. This will keep the birds thinking you have a lot of scarecrows in your garden and that they had better be careful when entering.

The same thing goes for moving scarecrows around, birds do learn where they are placed so what may work one day,  may not work the next. Try changing locations daily to keep them on their toes.

If you’re using scarecrows remember that they need time for their “effect” to build . At first the birds won’t know what to make of this thing in your garden. They will see it, take a few steps back and then just fly over it or away from the area completely. Don’t panic.

This is how scarecrows work. You need time for them to slowly become part of your landscape. If you don’t give them that extra time, they may seem like just another fruit-bearing plant to be ignored. You want the birds to be intimidated enough by the scarecrow so that they don’t come into your garden and interfere with your plants.

When using plastic owls or fake snakes you’ll want to place them in random spots throughout the garden. Not only is this effective but it also keeps the birds from becoming accustomed to seeing the same owl or snake every single day.

Don’t use fake snakes or owls in the same location for more than a month at a time. Any time longer than that and it is likely that they will be ignored by the birds. This is advice you should follow for mirror-like objects, such as CDs, as well. Change their locations several times per week.

Be careful with netting. While it may seem like a great idea to catch the birds in your plants for easy removal, they can have negative effects on wildlife. The first is that you are killing off baby songbirds which nest in certain types of plants.

Pigeons and other large birds will be able to fly through netting without harm but small songbirds will not be so lucky. Additionally, netting may trap insects that would otherwise be food for the birds you do want in your garden. A little more in that in a bit.

Related: Shrubs for Attracting Songbirds: How Bushes Bring Birds to the Garden With Food and Shelter

If you do choose to use it, try not to allow it to cover too much of any given plant at one time. Even though you want it there long-term; these are still living plants with leaves that need sunlight. If this area above the net has little sun or air circulation, it can slow or stop the growth of the plant. This keeps you from getting the plant to bear and at worst, could kill your plant completely if the lack of airflow is bad enough.

Remember to watch it closely for holes. Birds will get caught in these nearly invisible holes and die slowly before being found. While this may not be terribly upsetting to some people, it may be to others. You’ll want to patch up any holes around the plants or remove them entirely for a period of time so that the birds can escape without dying first.

Do not use netting on thorny berry bushes as their prickly nature will make removing them difficult when they are covered.

Using organic methods of controlling birds is much less harmful to animals but can be more difficult than using scarecrows or a fake snake on its own. The reason for this is that you have to plan ahead and think about where your bird problems will be worst and where pest removal will be easiest. Additionally, some of the plants are somewhat seasonal which means organic methods might not work as well during certain months of the year.

Organic methods can also be more humane than electric fences or spikes. There will be no blood and guts lying around the garden. Here are some other humane methods of controlling the bird population in your garden:

Encourage birds that eat the ones you don’t want to have in your garden. This may sound odd but it is actually a viable option. While birds like blackbirds and starlings will eat some berries, other birds like blue tits and wrens are very small and prefer smaller insects. This means they can be great allies in your fight against bad birds.

If you want to encourage more of these kinds of birds around your garden, try putting up nesting boxes or feeding them when they visit. Encourage them to stick around by feeding them something healthy for their diet such as mealworms or using a  birdbath.

Related: Bird Feeding Basics: Everything you need to know about bird feeders, seeds, suet

The most important thing when using organic means of control is patience. Unlike scarecrows, all these methods take time before they begin working so don’t expect them to start doing their job overnight.

organic garden

You can keep birds out of your garden by using a variety of techniques. An electric fence is one option, but you might also want to consider installing bird spikes or netting over the top of trees and shrubs in order to discourage them from coming into contact with these plants.

Ensure that any nets are installed high enough so that cats cannot reach them as well- they may see this as an opportunity for playtime! If it sounds like too much work to constantly monitor what kind of deterrents you’re using, we recommend getting some good scarecrow decoys instead. They make it look like there’s someone living on your property and will give potential intruders pause before approaching.