Protect your plants from hungry beaks

We love seeing the variety of birds in our gardens and hearing their beautiful song but know that they are incredibly helpful too. While they eat garden pests like slugs and caterpillars, they also eat weed seeds, providing brilliant chemical-free solutions to two of our big garden problems.

However, while you're planting in your school or community garden, it's important to protect your leaf vegetables and young plants, like peas or beans, until they get established. We’ve come up with some simple deterrents which can be added to your vegetable patch when you are planting. These are safe to use and in no way harmful to birds and if you have a well-established feeding station, shouldn’t deter birds from your garden altogether. Have a look at our ideas which offer the best solutions to living in harmony with birds and young plants at the beginning of the growing season.

Bird feeding stations and water

Cultivation Street advice feeding birds in your school or community garden to protect young plants

It’s great to have a bird feeding station and water positioned somewhere else in your garden. Not only are these important to help sustain your birds over the winter and provide important water in the summer, in spring these also act as a diversion away from your young plants. Different varieties of bird feed are available in your local garden centres. Include a range of feed as different types appeal to different garden birds. Small seed such as millet are more suitable for sparrows for example and Nyjer seeds particularly appeal to goldfinches. You can also have a go at making your own bird feeders.

Hanging CDs

A quick and easy idea to keep crop-eating birds away is to up hang something which is shiny, like CDs, as the reflective surface scares them. Hold on to scratched CDs that don't work anymore and free CDs that you don't want to use. These can then be hung by string onto bean poles or varying heights. A light breeze will move the CDs, creating movement which scares the birds away from your vegetables.

Cultivation Street advice hanging cds in your garden to scare the birds away


Cultivation Street advice using windmills in your garden to scare the birds away

Using seaside windmills in your garden is another easy way to scare the birds. Again, the wind catches the windmills creating movement which turns the windmill. Bought windmills are generally made with plastic so are relatively weather resistant. Be aware that birds become accustomed to deterrents such as these so you may need to make changes to something different.

Make your own pinwheel windmill

  1. Alternatively, you can make your own pinwheel windmill. Start with a square of coloured foam. Brightly coloured paper or thin card will work just as well but won't be as long-lasting. Start with 21cm squares but do experiment with different sized windmills.
  2. Using a ruler, draw diagonal lines between each of the corners to find the centre of your square. Measure 10cm along these diagonal lines from each corner and cut along these lines from the corner to this measurement.
  3. Tuck one point from each corner into the middle. Then, using a thumb tack or map pin, join this to the top of a piece of wooden doweling.


Finally, there's always the option of making your own scarecrow. By recycling some old clothes and stuffing with straw you can create your very own Worzel Gummidge or Aunt Sally.

Some communities have their own scarecrow festivals and we'd love to see your creativity in action if you've made your own too. Don't forget to tag us in on social media, @CultivationStreet on Facebook and Instagram and @CultivationSt on Twitter.

Cultivation Street advice making a scarecrow in your garden to scare the birds away

If you’d like to read more, the RSPB gives their thoughts on using deterrents in the garden and other ideas of how to help birds in your garden.

Cultivation Street advice for your school or community garden to protect young plants being eaten by birds

For more tips and advice and to take your community gardening project to the next level, register for free now to become part of the Cultivation Street campaign.

You’ll receive an array of free resources, from seed packs, planting calendars to seasonal newsletters jam-packed with gardening advice, ideas and success stories to whet your gardening appetite. You’ll also be given a chance to win big in the annual Cultivation Street competition, which has a staggering £20,000 to giveaway to school and community gardening projects that are changing the lives of people across the UK.

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