Using a Sprinkler to Prevent Birds and Pests from Eating Grass Seed

Using a Sprinkler to Prevent Birds and Pests from Eating Grass Seed

If you’re looking to cover a bare spot in your lawn, you may need to purchase grass seed and wait for it to grow. However, this can create an easy food source for birds, which can prevent the seed from growing into new grass. Finding a solution can be difficult, especially if you’re a bird-friendly homeowner.

One common solution is to cover the lawn with straw to prevent birds from accessing the seed. However, this is not an ideal solution for a few reasons. Firstly, the straw can block the light that is necessary for the grass to grow. Secondly, you’ll need to remove the straw once the grass starts to grow, which can be difficult and may damage the new seedlings.

Fortunately, there is a solution that supports grass growth and keeps the birds away. You can set up motion-activated sprinklers that turn on when birds move in to capture the seed. This will scare the birds away and provide the grass with a good watering at the same time.

How motion-activated sprinklers can solve your grass seed problem

Sprinkler on lawn

Chairat senawan/Shutterstock

Many birds, especially smaller ones such as sparrows and finches, will feast on grass seed. Once the grass starts to come in, those tiny morsels of new growth are also an attractive treat for some larger birds, including Canadian geese. In most of these cases, sprinklers are a harmless solution.

You can use motion-controlled sprinklers for just about any type of wildlife that might damage your landscaping, including larger animals like dogs and deer. They can help to minimize the risk of mice moving into the area, too, which can also create havoc on your lawn. Some motion-controlled sprinklers are more advanced than others and may be programmed to only work during the day when many bird species are most active.

Even the simplest of motion-controlled sprinklers will work to deter birds. That’s because, once the water kicks in, the startled birds will fly away. Unless they don’t have any other food source in the area, they will most likely move on to an easier, less wet option. Keep in mind that birds do eat in the rain, but what makes this tactic different is the scare factor.

How to choose a motion-based sprinkler

water spraying from sprinkler


For this method to work well, consider what you’re purchasing and the value it offers to your budget and particular lawn. It’s not logical to buy an expensive motion-activated sprinkler for a tiny spot that you’re filling in, but it may be a good choice if you have a constant wildlife problem (those pesky deer will always munch on flower blooms).

A wide range of motion-activated sprinklers are available, including options ranging in price from $42 up to $180 on Amazon (you can purchase them in most home improvement stores and some garden centers, too). A higher-end model, like the Yard Enforcer from Orbit, is programmable and highly targeted, delivering a sudden burst of water toward the animal as soon as its presence is detected.

Meanwhile, a product like Solar Sprinkler can work much the same way and doesn’t require electrical lines. Some products, like the Yardeen Garden Water Motion Sprinkler, provide the ability to adjust how far it operates, allowing you to cover as much space as you need. If there’s still not enough coverage, you may need to invest in more than one sprinkler. Once in place, you can also count on this as one way to keep your lawn green even after the seeds germinate.

Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.