How to stop birds eating grass seed – 7 foolproof methods to protect your freshly sown lawn, according to experts

They're easy and effective

CDs hanging in garden as reflective bird deterrent
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're wondering how to stop birds eating grass seed, we're probably safe to assume that you're dealing with some overly enthusiastic winged visitors mistaking your lawn as an all-you-can-eat buffet.

If you're meticulously following a lawn care calendar, then you likely already know that the best time to sow grass seed is right now to achieve a lush, green lawn. However, there's nothing worse than taking the time to clue yourself up on the best lawn care advice just for your hard work to amount to very little after a visit from some pesky wildlife.

Luckily, there are a couple of expert-approved tips you can try out on your lawn ideas to prevent birds from having at it with your freshly sown grass seeds.

Lawn with border plants and small outdoor seating area

(Image credit: Future PLC/Peter Chatterton)

How to stop birds eating grass seed

'Having birds eat the grass seed just when it has started to take root is a common problem for many homeowners and the most common bird species that do that are sparrows, starlings and pigeons,' begins Fantastic Gardeners' lawn care expert, Ionel Giuran. 'This usually happens because they look for the most easily accessible food source.'

Although it might seem like a perpetually frustrating problem – like caring for a lawn in the shade – we've rounded up some of the best solutions to stop birds eating grass seed without harming them.

1. Put up mesh, nets, or fencing around your lawn

The first and most common method is simply putting up netting or bird-proof fencing around your lawn that'll create a physical barrier against any preying birds. It's easy enough to buy these from your local garden centre, hardware store, or even online.

The only thing to consider is ensuring you choose the material carefully. 'You want to ensure that your seeds will still have access to light and that birds will not get tangled or trapped in the barrier,' advises Andy Wiles, wildlife expert and director of Brinvale Bird Foods.

2. Hang up CDs or foil

There are a handful of ways you can upcycle things to use in your gardening endeavours, such as reusing plastic bottles or using old towels in the garden as useful gardening tools. Now, we'll be adding CDs and foil to that list as a way to stop birds from eating grass seed on a budget.

'Put them on a string and spread them across your lawn,' advises Ionel. 'The reflection from them will disorient the birds approaching your lawn and discourage them from eating the grass seed.'

CDs hanging in garden as reflective bird deterrent

(Image credit: Getty Images)

3. Hide the grass seed with topsoil or compost

Another way to stop birds eating grass seed is to disguise them with topsoil or some peat-free compost after sowing them. If you're already on the task of levelling a lawn after sowing your grass seed, rest assured you're one step ahead.

However, if you choose to do this you must keep on top of lawn maintenance after the fact. 'You'll also need to water your lawn regularly so the soil beneath the top dressing or compost doesn't dry out and prevent the seeds from growing,' says Ionel.

Lawn and gravel path leading to exterior of summer house

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

4. Offer an alternative food source

As we mentioned earlier, birds are likely eating your grass seed because it's the most accessible food source. So, putting out alternative food that's of more interest to them can potentially keep them away.

'A few days before you sow the grass seeds, cast some sunflower hearts (like these, at Garden Wildlife Direct) on a different part of the garden daily,' advises Dick Woods, founder of Finches Friend Nature. 'This will help to distract the birds away from the newly sown area.'

Alternatively, Andy also suggests opting for other soft fruits, seeds and nuts like millet.

Assortment of bird feed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

5. Add a dedicated bird feeder

Following from the last point, while you're at it, it might be worth just fully embracing the wildlife garden vibe and adding a bird feeder to your outdoor space.

'Place a bird feeder as far away from the area housing the grass seed as possible,' suggests Dick. 'Whilst this will potentially attract more birds into the garden, it will draw them to the feeder and not to the ground.'

Birdhouse on tree in springtime

(Image credit: Getty Images)

6. Spray bird-repellent liquid

Investing in a bird-repellent spray is another useful method to keep them away from grass seed and other plants and produce you're trying to protect.

'Bird-repellent liquids usually contain chemicals that are harmless to birds and they only taste bitter to these animals when they swallow them,' assures Ionel. 'This will prevent them from poking holes in your lawn in search of grass seed. You can also DIY such liquid yourself by using black tea or peppermint oil and diluting it in water.'

7. Set up prey bird dummies

Finally, this might be one of the more unusual of the bunch but placing realistic-looking models of birds of prey around your garden can also be a big help. Although it isn't completely foolproof, investing in models such as owls or hawks can potentially deter those sparrows and pigeons.

'Birds are unlikely to visit your garden if they think there is something dangerous there. However, if you still want to attract birds to your garden, only use these methods intermittently,' says Andy.

Or, you can even go full old-school and go for a trusty scarecrow that is a farmer's best friend.

Scarecrow in garden with colourful plants and produce

(Image credit: Getty Images)


What can I use to stop birds from eating grass seed?

To stop birds from eating grass seed, you can utilise physical barriers like netting, mesh or fencing to protect your plants and produce. You can also offer alternative food sources in bird feeders or scare devices like realistic-looking birds of prey, scarecrows, or hanging up reflective objects.

It may seem like a lot at first, but rest assured that it's more than possible to stop birds eating grass seed effectively and without causing them any harm.

They're still welcome in our gardens, of course – just away from our hard work, is all.

Jullia Joson
Junior Writer

Jullia Joson is Ideal Home’s Junior Writer. She’s always loved all things homes and interiors, graduating with a bachelor's degree in Architectural Studies from the University of Nottingham in 2022. Previously, she was an Intern Editor for ArchDaily. Now focused on news stories, Jullia can be found down the TikTok and Pinterest rabbit hole scrolling through any new and upcoming trends, hacks, and home inspiration.