How to Grow: Bird Netting

Learn how to use bird netting to keep birds from eating berries and fruit.

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There’s nothing better than watching the summer birds soaring around my yard, except when they decide on eating my prized berries! After coddling berry plants for years, bird protection is serious business. Cherries, strawberries, blueberries and elderberries are just some of the berry crops that birds love. Here are some ideas on preventing the damage.

Bird netting is the most common protective device. Consider placing some tall stakes and a framework over the plant and then draping the netting over the stakes. It will be easier to get in to harvest and cause less damage to the plant as you lift off the netting. Also, secure the netting down to the ground so birds can’t get in the bottom.

Scaring birds is another idea. There are many home made and commercial reflective and noise devices that work… for a time. Try using pie plates, old CDs (remember those?), aluminum foil and even turned on radios around your plants. I like using the holographic ribbon strung on posts in the planting. It’s important the devices move to reflect light and make noise so place them where there’s good wind. Try a number of different devices and techniques to confuse the birds. Scare eye balloons works well as long as you move them every few days. Stationary plastic owls, however, look cute, but I remember seeing a crow perched on one waiting to descend on a garden.

Finally, taste based, repellent sprays will thwart birds. Spray before berries ripen to be effective. Commercial repellents are available but you can make your own. Mix water, crushed hot peppers and vinegar together or spray a sugar solution to ward off birds.
From the Vermont Garden Journal

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