Using Bird Netting to keep those pesky fruit-eating birds out of your garden is a cheap and humane way to protect your crops.
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It’s happened to every gardener. You have a beautiful strawberry that is just about ripe. One more day and you will be able to sink your teeth into that juicy goodness. You get up early and head out to the garden, and no strawberry!! It’s just gone! Then you notice a smiling Robin sitting on the fence and you know what happened!!
Using Bird Netting in the garden
Birds are always a problem in the garden. If you are like me, you don’t like sharing with our fine feathered friends! Using Bird Netting to keep the birds off your crops is the best method I have found. I’ve tried scarecrows and shiny whirligigs but those methods never seem to work. Or if they do work they only work on the more timid birds. The bold ones (magpies in our area) are not fooled or scared by these tactics. The only foolproof method for keeping out birds is using Bird Netting.
In our area, the biggest problem birds are Robins in the spring and Magpies pretty much all year long. Fruit are the favorites of most birds, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and peaches are the favorite targets in our garden. Birds are particularly damaging to Strawberries and Blackberries in our yard.
How to Use Bird Netting
Using Bird Netting is really quite simple. In its most basic form, all you really need to do is throw some netting over your plants and secure it down with a few rocks! Of course, you can get a little more high tech about it if you want, but really that’s all you need.
Using Bird Netting is easiest on low growing strawberries, in that case, you simply need to cover the plants and hold the corners down to keep it from blowing away in the wind. I also like to put some short stakes in the ground to keep the netting a little above the plants for easier removal. (Check out this post for a trick to help keep the netting from getting caught on the stakes).
It becomes a little more difficult to use bird netting when we are talking about larger plants. Plants like blackberries, raspberries or blueberries. In these cases, I like to put some stakes in the ground that will be above the level of the full-grown plants. I then put the netting over the plants and on top of the stakes to help keep the netting from getting stuck on the plants. Like a mentioned in the post I referenced above I also like to put some glass or plastic bottles on top of those stakes. This prevents the netting from getting stuck on the stake.
Using Bird Netting also works well to protect your grapes from winged marauders. My grapes are on an arbor. I simply toss the netting over the plants and secure it to the arbor with some twist ties. This method is far from perfect. It keeps the birds out. But it also tends to keep me out and by the end of the season, the netting is hard to remove. But keeping my grape crop intact is worth the trouble of 6 weeks of messing with a net.
Using Bird Netting on Trees
Netting also works well to protect smaller trees from birds. Our peach tree is a semi-dwarf tree and will never get huge. So I can easily drape some bird netting over the tree for the last few weeks of the ripening season to keep the birds out. I will admit this idea gets harder and harder to execute as the trees get larger!! But believe it or not, I have seen fellow gardeners who have covered 30-foot high cherry trees with giant pieces of Bird Netting to keep the birds off. It’s a lot of work involving ladders and poles, but it is worth it to protect your crops.
Using Bird Netting is not foolproof. There have been times when the birds have still gotten inside the netting and stolen a few berries. But overall the protection afforded by bird netting is well worth the cost and effort.
Bird Netting Costs
Bird Netting is really pretty cheap. I’ve seen netting on-line in sizes as big as 7.5′ by 65′ for $25 or less. Buying a huge piece like that can be really cost effective. You can just cut off what you need from the roll and save the other for later. I have found that most bird netting lasts for 5 or 6 years. When it finally starts to degrade and get really big holes in it.
One warning for you. If you are going to use Bird Netting, be prepared to have to rescue (or dispose of) the occasional bird that gets trapped in the netting. It doesn’t happen often, but there have been a few times when I have had to free a trapped bird from some netting. Dang pesky birds can be really determined sometimes!!