Your Seedlings From Animals And Birds
by Ron Williams
No matter how much people try to encourage the wildlife to visit and
live in their gardens. There will always be occasions and/or parts
of the garden where we do not welcome them. This being mainly when
we are planting young seedlings or a crop of edible plants is getting
close to harvest. So we have to strike a balance between encouraging
the wildlife as well as being able to discourage them at other times
or from certain particular places.
There are four ways of protecting your plants or crop from the ravages
of birds and animals; these methods include fences, scarers, covers
and sprays. Here we will deal with suggestions for the last three
of these ideas. Most of these ideas though will only provide a temporary
solution, because most times the birds or wildlife, while scared off
at first will eventually stop being frightened and will return and
ignore or bypass that method in future. So it is an idea to only use
each idea for a short time, and then later switch to a different system
Scarers usually rely on something to surprise the wildlife's vision
or hearing, to frighten them into leaving.
If you have some small cheap bells lying around or you can pick some
up cheap, then string them along a length of twine over your plants.
Bottle Top Scarers
String a series of metal and or plastic bottle tops between stakes
driven into the ground at the outside of the area to be protected.
Make sure that they can move easily in the slightest breeze or at
the gentlest touch. It also helps if some of them can rattle together
to add a bit of noise. Tie one off every so often so that it cannot
move, this will stop them all migrating to the lowest point of the
length of string.
Drink Bottle Rattle Scarer
Partially fill some drink bottles with a fairly light product like
rice or dried peas, put enough in to make it into a rattle. Then tie
them along some twine tied over your young plants. If animals tap
them or the breeze is blowing they will make a noise, to frighten
the small critters away.
Drink Can/Bottle Scarers
Tie some cans or bottle along some twine so that they can bump together
to make a noise if tapped or moved by a breeze, to frighten the small
animals or birds.
If you have one of those little whirligigs that have a blade that
goes around in the breeze, why not set it up near your plants it will
scare the birds away as long as the wind is blowing.
Unless you are fairly good at both art and woodcraft and can make
one yourself, you will probably have to go out purchase one of the
commercially made Hawkscarers and set it up following the directions
in the pack, to frighten away the birds.
Here you can either go out and purchase a small cheap kids kite or
look at making your own kites. To cover your kite, you can use anything
from material through to old foil wrapping paper, kitchen foil or
even plastic shopping bags. Even kites made to be only a few inches
across, can be an effective scarer, if you hang them to blow in the
Rip or cut some scraps of brightly coloured or reflective material
into small strips. Tie them to twine over the plants to be protected,
leave enoughdangling to flap around in the breeze, to scare the birds.
Have a go at making a Scarecrow, it may or not be effective at scaring
the birds, but it almost be guaranteed to become a piece of landscaping
artand a talking point around the neighbourhood.
Silver Foil Scarers
Aluminium foil or used Foil wrapping paper, which is cut into strips
to hang on twine through the area will scare the daylights out of
any creature which moves it, or sees it moving in the breeze. Or try
wrapping polystyrene or ping-pong balls in the foil, and hang these
through the area.
Water Hose/Sprinkler Scarer
Position a garden hose either up into a strong branch of a fruiting
tree. Or tie it to a garden stake in the middle of your young plants.
Leave a few feet loose above the top point at which you tie it off.
When you notice birds descending on your plants. Turn the hose on
as hard as you can. This will result in the end of the hose flapping
around rather wildly gushing out a strong stream of water. This is
usually enough to frighten anyone let alone the local wildlife. Repeat
this a few times and the birds or wildlife will soon not bother coming
Wind Chimes Scarers
Why not try and hang your old wind chimes in the area that you want
Wine Cask Bladder Scarer
Take the nozzle out and use like a box kite. Or blow them up like
Use some of your old tinsel, or buy some up cheap in the post Christmas
sales. Allow plenty of loose material to permit the tinsel to move
around in the breezes.
Material, foil or plastic set up to flap in the breeze like either
a sail or pennant, can be an effective scarer.
Try your hand at making your own miniature version of an Airport's
Windsock to frighten the birds and animals.
If you have the type of family that has clothes drying on a clothes
line most days, then place your young plants in pots around the base
of the clothes line or set up a movable clothes airer near your delicate
plants filling the lines with clothes and linen which will flap around
a bit will also be an effective bird and small animal scarer.
Mirror ball Scarers
Purchase at a discount price (cheap) store or make your own small
mirror balls to hang in and around your plants. These mirror balls
van be made from boxes or polystyrene balls, ping pong ball etc, and
sticking anything shiny and reflective to them from small mirror tiles,
foil, broken pieces of mirror or the like. Hang these where they will
have the opportunity catch and reflect sunlight.
If you have an old plastic snake at the bottom of the old toy box,
why not try putting it in amongst your plants. While I have never
tried this method myself, I have heard of others who swear by this
scarer. Move it around every so often.
Toy Animal Scarers
What about the idea of strategically placing a realistic looking toy
dog or cat near your young plants. The theory being that the birds
or small animals will already have had experience with real cats and
dogs so will avoid any area with them.
(This is theoretical suggestion, which I haven't seen tried but is
based on the supposed success of the plastic snakes). So if anyone
has the opportunity totry this one, let me know the results, please.
Whereas putting a cover over or around the plants physically stops
the animals from reaching the plants.
Glass/ Hard Plastic Covers
If you have a pane of glass or an old window that is not being used
put it over your young plants, lift it above the plants using whatever
is available to you, eg bricks etc.
Milk/Yoghurt Container Covers
Cut the top and bottom out of cardboard or plastic containers and
slip these over young plants to stop birds and other animals from
digging them out till they are established. It helps to bury the bottom
of the container slightly. This idea works just as well with any round
or square material that will go round your young plants, from drink
bottles to small sections of plastic plumbers pipe. But always cut
them down one side to make removal easier once the plants have grown
Plastic/Shadecloth/Bird netting Covers
Make a framework of stakes around the plants that you want to protect,
and place over this a shadecloth/plastic or bird netting cover. Shadecloth
or plastic can be purchased by the foot/metre from nurseries or hardware
stores. Or you can even just throw the shadecloth or bird netting
directly over the plants/shrubs or small trees, if the plant is strong
enough to support the weight of the material.
Stick and String Covers
Whether you are trying to protect a pot of seedlings or a bigger area
out in the garden. Make up a framework of sticks or garden stakes
around the seedlings, and then tie them loosely together by weaving
some string, cotton, wool or twine between the sticks/stakes.
Wire Netting Covers
Support some of that light flexible fencing wire, mosquito mesh or
even plastic mesh over your seedlings of fruiting plants, and support
it with garden stakes to keep the birds away from your plants.
Hard Wire Frame Covers
Try supporting some hard wire mesh over your young plants to protect
them from the ravages of birds or animals. You can use things like
light concreting mesh or fencing panels, or whatever else you can
access around the place. Support them up off the ground with garden
stakes, bricks or even soft drink bottles filled with water.
The reason for applying a spray is to make the animals think that
the targeted plant or fruit is not as tasty as they at first believed
it should be. But it usually takes a bit of experimentation to find
what will work with particular pests. As each have their own likes
and dislikes even within the one species.But try mixing hot or unpleasant
but safe ingredients together to make a spray diluted with water to
spray over your seedlings of fruiting plants. Try to avoid spraying
fruit that you will eat, or rinse such produce well before consuming.
Some ingredients you might try include,
The above list of ideas should be enough to provide you with at least
a few alternatives that you can try to combat those ravenous critters
that are bombarding your young charges.
Ron Williams 2002
Ron Williams is a Freelance writer,a Horticulturist and a Rehab' Therapy
Aid at a Psychiatric Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland,
Australia. He writes ezines for wz.com. He runs his own Website called
Bare Bones Gardening.
He also owns a discussion group about Aussie' Gardening, called Austgardens