Gardening Tips

No matter how much people try to encourage the wildlife to visit and live in their gardens. There will always be occasions and/or parts of the garden where we do not welcome them. This being mainly when we are planting young seedlings or a crop of edible plants is getting close to harvest. So we have to strike a balance between encouraging the wildlife as well as being able to discourage them at other times or from certain particular places.

There are four ways of protecting your plants or crop from the ravages of birds and animals; these methods include scarers, covers and sprays. Here we will deal with the first of these ideas.

Most of these ideas though will only provide a temporary solution, because most times the birds or wildlife, while scared off at first will eventually stop being frightened and will return and ignore or bypass that method in future. So it is an idea to only use each idea for a short time, and then later switch to a different system of control.


Scarers usually rely on something to surprise the wildlife’s vision or hearing, to frighten them into leaving.

  • Bells – If you have some small cheap bells lying around or you can pick some up cheap, then string them along a length of twine over your plants.  
  • Bottle Top
    String a series of metal and or plastic bottle tops between stakes driven into the ground at the outside of the area to be protected. Make sure that they can move easily in the slightest breeze or at the gentlest touch. It also helps if some of them can rattle together to add a bit of noise. Tie one off every so often so that it cannot move, this will stop them all migrating to the lowest point of the length of string.  
  • Drink Bottle Rattle
    – Partially fill some drink bottles with a fairly light product like rice or dried peas, put enough in to make it into a rattle. Then tie them along some twine tied over your young plants. If animals tap them or the breeze is blowing they will make a noise, to frighten the small critters away.  
  • Drink Can/Bottles
    – Tie some cans or bottle along some twine so that they can bump together to make a noise if tapped or moved by a breeze, to frighten the small animals or birds.  
  • Whirligigs – If you have one of those little whirligigs that have a blade that goes around in the breeze, why not set it up near your plants it will scare the birds away as long as the wind is blowing.  
  • Hawkscarers
    – Unless you are fairly good at both art and woodcraft and can make one yourself, you will probably have to go out purchase one of the commercially made Hawkscarers and set it up following the directions in the pack, to frighten away the birds.  
  • Kites – Here you can either go out and purchase a small cheap kids kite or look at making your own kites. To cover your kite, you can use anything from material through to old foil wrapping paper, kitchen foil or even plastic shopping bags. Even kites made to be only a few inches across, can be an effective scarer, if you hang them to blow in the breeze.  
  • Ribbon – Rip or cut some scraps of brightly coloured or reflective material into small strips. Tie them to twine over the plants to be protected, leave enough dangling to flap around in the breeze, to scare the birds.
  • Scarecrow
    Have a go at making a Scarecrow, it may or not be effective at scaring the birds, but it almost be guaranteed to become a piece of landscaping art and a talking point around the neighbourhood.  
  • Silver Foil
    – Aluminium foil or used Foil wrapping paper, which is cut into strips to hang on twine through the area will scare the daylights out of any creature which moves it, or sees it moving in the breeze. Or, try wrapping polystyrene or ping-pong balls in the foil, and hang these through the area.  
  • Water Hose/Sprinkler
    – Position a garden hose either up into a strong branch of a fruiting tree. Or tie it to a garden stake in the middle of your young plants. Leave a few feet loose above the top point at which you tie it off. When you notice birds descending on your plants. Turn the hose on as hard as you can. This will result in the end of the hose flapping around rather wildly gushing out a strong stream of water. This is usually enough to frighten anyone let alone the local wildlife. Repeat this a few times and the birds or wildlife will soon not bother coming back.  
  • Wind Chimes
    – Why not try and hang your old wind chimes in the area that you want protected.  
  • Wine Cask Bladder-Take the nozzle out and use like a box kite. Or blow them up like balloons.  
  • Tinsel – Use some of your old tinsel, or buy some up cheap in the post Christmas sales. Allow plenty of loose material to permit the tinsel to move around in the breezes.
  • Sails/Pennants– Material, foil or plastic set up to flap in the breeze like either a sail or pennant, can be an effective scarer.  
  • Windsock – Try your hand at making your own miniature version of an Airport’s Windsock to frighten the birds and animals
  • Clothesline/Airer– If you have the type of family that has clothes drying on a clothes line most days, then place your young plants in pots around the base of the clothes line or set up a movable clothes airer near your delicate plants filling the lines with clothes and linen which will flap around a bit will also be an effective bird and small animal scarer.  
  • Mirror balls-Purchase at a discount price (cheap) store or make your own small mirror balls to hang in and around your plants. These mirror balls van be made from boxes or polystyrene balls, ping pong ball etc, and sticking anything shiny and reflective to them from small mirror tiles, foil, broken pieces of mirror or the like. Hang these where they will have the opportunity catch and reflect sunlight.  
  • Plastic Snakes– If you have an old plastic snake at the bottom of the old toy box, why not try putting it in amongst your plants. While I have never tried this method myself, I have heard of others who swear by this scarer. Move it around every so often.  
  • Toy Animals– What about the idea of strategically placing a realistic looking toy dog or cat near your young plants. The theory being that the birds or small animals will already have had experience with real cats and dogs so will avoid any area with them. (This is theoretical suggestion, which I haven’t seen tried but is based on the supposed success of the plastic snakes). So if anyone has the opportunity to try this one, let me know the results, please.  

Ron Williams, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia
Ron Williams is a Freelance writer as well as being a Horticulturist and a Rehabilitation Therapy Aid at a Psychiatric Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. He writes ezines for He runs his own Website called Bare Bones Gardening. He also owns a discussion group about Australian Gardening, called Austgardens at

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