Whether you sell to local restaurants or simply enjoy having fresh vegetables in your kitchen, sharing your hard-earned produce with the local bird population is probably not on your to-do list. Luckily, there are a number of ways to keep birds away from your prized vegetable garden without violating the UK’s Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
In the following blog, we’ve curated a set of effective techniques to protect your beloved vegetable garden from feathery foragers, so you can protect your crops and enjoy your home-grown fresh veggies all year round. Let’s take a look!
While birds make up an important and necessary part of nature’s ecosystem, their presence can be quite detrimental to your vegetable garden. Their interest in your plot typically stems from three main reasons: food, shelter, and nesting:
It’s simple: vegetable gardens are a bit like open buffets to birds, and with a colourful array of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s easy for them to find your crops. Birds often peck at ripe tomatoes, peas, berries, and other vegetables, leaving behind damaged crops unsuitable for human consumption.
Your vegetable garden can provide an ideal refuge for many bird species: dense foliage or climbing plants provide birds with the shelter they need from predators and harsh weather conditions, but this foraging can lead to damage and produce contamination.
Finally, birds may use your garden as a nesting ground. This can lead to extensive damage, particularly if a large bird decides to nest in a delicate plant. Moreover, birds can become territorial when they are nesting, which may lead to them driving away beneficial garden creatures. So, what options are available to deter birds and keep them away from your produce?
Anti bird netting is one of the most popular methods employed by gardeners worldwide. It consists of a network of thin, durable threads that form a protective barrier over your garden. The structure of the netting is such that it prevents birds from accessing your vegetables, while allowing sunlight and water to pass through, ensuring that your plants remain healthy and robust.
Anti bird netting is lightweight and straightforward to install, making it a favourable choice among gardeners. The netting is also versatile in its application, suitable for covering individual plants or entire garden patches.
On the downside, bird netting may pose some difficulties during harvesting, as you will need to remove and reinstall it. Moreover, smaller birds or insects might still manage to squeeze through the net, posing a minor risk to your crops.
Garden decoys can be an effective strategy for diverting birds away from your vegetable garden. These typically take the shape of predatory birds, such as owls or hawks, to scare away potential intruders.
Garden decoys are visually unobtrusive and can even add an aesthetic appeal to your garden. They are also relatively low maintenance and can be left out in all weather conditions without fear of damage.
However, the effectiveness of decoys can diminish over time as birds grow accustomed to their presence and recognise them as harmless; to combat this, you might need to frequently relocate your decoys or supplement them with other bird-deterrent methods.
Birds typically steer clear of shiny objects as the glare can disorientate them. Hanging items like aluminium foil strips, old CDs, or even metallic wind chimes can prove quite effective in keeping birds at bay.
This method is cost-effective and simple to implement. Shiny objects can also serve a dual purpose, adding a decorative element to your garden.
Although effective, this solution might not appeal to everyone due to the potential aesthetic impact. Moreover, its effectiveness could vary depending on the position of the sun and the garden's exposure to wind.
In the United Kingdom, it’s illegal to intentionally kill, injure, or physically, displace wild birds, according to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, and this extends to disturbing birds while they're nesting. Consequently, it's vital to adopt deterrent methods that don't harm the birds, focusing instead on preventative measures that keep them away from your garden or vegetable patch. Anti bird netting, garden decoys, and shiny objects can all be effective, non-harmful strategies for bird-proofing your garden.