When you set up bird feeders in your backyard, you face the risk of weeds growing under them. Birdseed that falls from the feeder will enable weed growth. Many commercial bird feeds contain a small percentage of seeds that birds find desirable. The rest comprises unfavored components, such as millet and sorghum, which might drop to the ground and sprout into weeds. Take the following steps to prevent the growth of weeds under your bird feeders while keeping your yard clean and beautiful:
1. Use no waste birdseed
Purchase birdseed mixes that come with no-waste seeds. These mixtures typically contain dried fruits, nuts, hulled sunflower, and peanut pieces. No waste birdseed is normally pre-hulled, ensuring that it will not germinate when it lands on the ground. Many conventional birdseed mixtures are minimally processed and will sprout when scattered on the soil below the feeders.
No waste mixes are more expensive than other blends. However, the cost is worth it if you want to avoid weeds in your yard. High-quality birdseed mixes are the best bet to feed birds while adequately minimizing waste. You can create homemade mixes containing seeds that attract birds. This ensures that birds feed on them rather than scattering them all over.
High-fat, quick-energy seed mixes meet your birds’ appetite and nutritional needs. The birds will feed on the entire blend, which can last weeks with minimal wastage. Tightly pack your feeders with such mixtures to eliminate seed spray and experience regular visits from local birds.
2. Use the right feeder
The right feeder can help reduce seed waste that might lead to the growth of weeds. Further, they provide a more efficient feeding experience catered to different bird species.
Titmice, nuthatches, and chickadees will only eat sunflower seeds and avoid other foods. Therefore, you should identify the birds that frequent your yard and determine their preferred feed. Install the right type of feed and feeder to give them a quality feeding experience.
Tube feeders cater to birds that hang upside down when feeding, such as goldfinches. Larger birds, such as cardinals and grosbeaks, would rather eat in hopper-style feeders. A good bird feeder should minimize seed spillage.
The positioning of the bird feeders can also help prevent spillage.
3. Use a seed catcher
Install a seed catcher under your feeder to catch any stray seeds. The catcher should be wide enough to catch seeds falling from the feeder. The trays come in different sizes depending on your feeder arrangement. Alternatively, place the feeder above a concrete surface or in rocky areas where the seeds have a lesser possibility of sprouting.
4. Use sterilized birdseed
Sterilize your birdseed by heating it to reduce its chances of germination. You can also buy seeds that the manufacturer has sterilized. Nyjer seeds (Guizotia abyssinica) are native to Asia and Africa and do not grow. The seeds are heated before transportation to reduce their growth potential.
They are popular with American goldfinches due to their high-calorie content. Sunflower chips contain chopped seeds that cannot sprout. Cracked corn is a common birdseed that will not germinate as it is cut down into small pieces.
Sterilize your birdseed at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 30 minutes. You can also put the bag of seeds in a microwave for 5 to 8 minutes. Some people worry that these processes impact the nutritional value of the bird seed. However, there is no extensive scientific evidence to prove that claim.
5. Adjust your yard to make it more bird-friendly
Make changes to your landscape to make it more bird-friendly. Tailor the landscape to cater to the unique feeding habits of frequent bird visitors. Study the habitat and dietary needs of the birds you intend to attract to the lawn.
Goldfinches prefer eating in shrubby landscapes, and robins prefer tall trees and open fields so they will be more attracted to a yard with many shade trees. This will inform you of the type of birdseed you need to purchase, the best location for bird feeders, and the best season to install the feeders.
6. Clean the ground frequently
Maintain your outdoor area to prevent the growth of weeds from birdseed. Clean spilled seeds and hulls regularly before they establish. Purchase a quality outdoor vacuum cleaner to enable you to clear spilled birdseed efficiently.
Rake over the grass below the feeders to loosen and break up any seeds. Then use the vacuum to suck them all up.
Rotate the feeders each month to give the seeds under the feeder to decompose naturally.
Controlling birdseed weeds
You can control weeds under your bird feeders by pulling them out, mulching, or solarizing. Mulching can prevent the bird seeds from contacting the soil. Further, it chokes out weeds by blocking sunlight. Do not use chemicals to control weeds, as they might negatively impact the vegetation in your yard.
Weeds will sprout under your bird feeders due to spillage. Many bird mixes contain seeds with high germination potential when touching the ground. You can purchase no-waste mixes, sterilize birdseed, install better feeders, and clean the ground to prevent weed growth. Always look out for weeds sprouting under your feeder and pull them out before they establish.