5 Humane Forms of Bird Control for Gardeners

Some birds can be a nuisance pest for many people by making noise, stealing food, fouling areas and destroying your vegetables, and don’t get me wrong, I love wildlife and spend most of my time trying to attract birds to my garden with lovely projects such as bid feeders, but they have to be the right ones. In some places the pest birds such as seagulls and pigeons have gotten so out of control that they have become an issue for the tourism industry in those areas, there’s even downsides to keeping chickens. Here are 5 humane bird control scarer solutions and their limitations that are available in the UK that are suitable for your garden, but we warned fending off birds has it’s draw backs, for example who will naturally take care of the slugs. On the plus side they can carry disease so removing them will help improve the safety of your garden for children.

1. Wind powered scarers

Wind powered bird scarers are great because they don’t require electricity which is handy as power extension reels can be a nuisance in the garden, they can look good, be unnoticeable by other people and once installed they can be left. Because wind doesn’t blow uniformly, wind powered bird scarers such as the Whirlybird Repeller will rotate irregularly in the wind making a slight noise that is irritant to birds but not to humans. If a scarer moved regularly it wouldn’t take long for the pest birds to become de-sensitised to the motion of the bird repeller, so not ideal as a pest control.

Wind powered scarers do need wind to operate so on calm days there is a chance that the birds will re-inhabit the area. Therefore, to use these repellers successfully they are best being mounted on a pole in an area that has a sufficient air flow such as on boats, solar panels, at the bottom of the garden and outside eating areas for example.

2. Noise scarers

Bird scarers that use noises such as gun shots, ultrasonic and distress sounds to deter birds can be successful at first. However, continual use of the same noise can de-sensitise the birds because they learn that the noise poses no real threat. Therefore, the noise scarers become an ineffective solution for pest control and one that is an irritant to other people and yourself very quickly but they are good for the frugal gardener as they cost a few pence to make. If they are used as part of a combined pest control method they have much better results. However, these are not ideal for most gardens due to disturbing your neighbours and yourself.

3. Visual scarers

Visual scarers can be quite successful especially if they are combined with irregular movements due to the wind because the birds aren’t able to get used to a stationary/regularly moving vision. For example, the “hawk kite”, this is designed to fly from a pole in the wind to give the illusion of a bird of prey hovering. From the ground they look like bird of prey so the birds leave the area due to their inbuilt fear of predators.

Again birds can soon be accustomed to the sight of one of these birds, therefore, moving the hawk kite around the area of your garden in different locations will help to keep it effective.

4. Predators

This is the employment of birds of prey to circle an area where there is a bird infestation is a natural bird deterrent. These specific birds have also been trained to deal with the unusual environments and distractions that are not their usual environment. One if the best ways of helping predators is to keep the grass trimmed with one of these nice lawn mowers ideally. Hedges trimmed isn’t a bad idea either.

Although this method is successful whilst the bird of prey is in flight, once the bird is removed the pest species will return. Therefore, this form of bird control is perfect in areas where the infestation birds need controlling during the day, for example, in city areas where there are high densities of people that the pest birds affect. This isn’t a practical solution for protecting your garden though unless you happen to be a falconer in your spare time.

A decoy bird of prey is a much better option to a real one, however, because these plastic birds don’t move, the pest birds become very accustomed to the model and will soon be de-sensitised to the sight of it. One tip is to continuously move the model around your garden throughout the day so the birds can’t get used to it in one position.

5. Traditional methods – fake dead birds

A traditional method that for years farmers have adopted is to have a dead bird of the pest species present in an area that the species is a pest. For example, hanging a dead crow outside a corn shed. Although this is not humane to the dead bird it works surprisingly well because the birds will fly in to look at the bird, then realising the bird is not moving naturally they will avoid the area until the bird is removed because the dead bird signals danger. Have no fear, very realistic plastic dead birds can be purchased which is far more humane than the use of a real bird.

The major disadvantage of using a decoy dead bird as a deterrent is that it is very unappealing so it is a method best off employed in areas that no one visits/eats/shops etc so if you don’t mind seeing the fake dead bird in your garden then this is quite a good option.

Do have anymore humane forms of bird control for gardeners? Be sure to let us know!

Slugs – Removing Them Naturally and Un-naturally

Getting Rid of Slugs

As a rule, I don’t tend to kill any living creature, ok so I may step on one of the many snails or slugs when its dark and raining but when it comes to removing a spider from the house after the kids or my partner run screaming from a room – I happily remove it (on a tissue if it’s too ghastly) and take it outside for it to happily wander back in once it finds a way.

That said, there are those moments in life when ones hard work becomes ruined by what I like to call pests, I find them in my troughs, in my hanging baskets, just about everywhere I work hard to improve, it was particularly annoying to see my plant trays attacked that I received as a Mother’s Day gift – I do call them others things as well but in a family friendly piece of content I do not think that is the way to go about it, so pest control is in order. So onto the agenda for today and with that being slugs and how to remove them I shall get on with it as best as I know how.

There are some people in this world that are not too worried about how these creatures are removed and there are some that would like a more orthodox approach, so I think it’s for the best if I cater for everyone and cover the subject from both angles. The best way in my mind is when the birds eat them, slugs will attract all manner of lovely wildlife.

This first little remedy that you will read below is probably the one that I remember the most, as my youngest daughter proudly informs her Nana about it whenever she goes into the garden planting.

Natural Methods

Eggs – After using eggs, save them up in their box and when you are ready to use them, crush up the shells and place them onto the soil in your plant pots acting as a natural deterrent and saving your previous plants.

Cornflour – Put a couple of tablespoons of this everyday kitchen ingredient into a jar or bottle and lay it down on its side the slugs truly love this stuff and as sad as it is, after eating it they will die.

Red Leaves – Slugs for whatever reason do not like plants with red leaves so to protect your favourite plants why not plant some of these types around the edge to act as a natural barrier. It won’t stop the insects though, so bare that in mind.

Pine Needles – This natural method works wonders as the needles are highly acidic and slugs prefer environments that have an alkaline composition.

Sand – Coarse sand is another method that will deter those slugs from eating at your foliage as the sand will rip their stomachs open. Sand is also great for drainage in your soil too. It’s also handy to buy a bag of sand for the garden.

Beer – Now as a lover of beer I personally do not use this method but a friend of mine brews his own so is never short of using it for the many things that he does. You can use this in a similar way that you would the corn flour or you can dig a hole big enough to hold a cup, place into the ground and empty each morning. You will be surprised at how many slugs that you can dispose of in this way.

source : www.pinterest.com

Coffee – As I am sure you can tell I am running out of natural ways in which to deter or eliminate the slimy beings but, I have recently read in the Daily Mail that coffee seems to work a treat but it’s actually illegal in EU terms. Simply placing coffee granules around your borders and lightly dampening the soil will pretty much solve the problem that may have been causing you hassle for so long. Please not this is illegal and I highly advise against it.

Salt – I find salt a difficult one to categorise so I am placing it in the middle, yes it’s a natural product but is it really a humane and natural way to use it? It obviously causes a lot of pain to the creature and not to mention can ruin your soil if sprinkled on or around it, but it is an effective way of eradicating them. Personally I don’t like the idea of ruining my soil, so here’s some tips on how to improve soil instead, and I think let’s pass on this method.

Un-natural Methods

First off I would start by saying if you have toddlers these methods are a terrible idea and completely unsafe.

Ammonia – I am not a huge fan of ammonia myself, when I was about 15 in a science class at school we were experimenting and the teacher specifically said do not get close and smell the chemical. So what did I do? You guessed it, myself and a lad called James thought it would be funny and I gave it a little sniff. Minutes later I had finally recovered from my coughing fit vowing never again to do such as stupid thing – you have been warned. To use this concoction, dilute five parts water to one part ammonia and spray onto the plant. Try to get the consistency correct as a weak solution will not damage the plant but will dissolve the slug.

Slug Pellets – This method is readily available in any shop that sells garden products but should only be really used if you do not have pets or children as the pellets can be toxic and makes someone very ill. They can also harm birds so if you have a colourful garden that attracts them it may be wise to find another way.

Burn them – I am not even sure I should even mention this as a way of getting rid of slugs, but a weed burner is another option – just be sure to not do it close to your plants, animals or children for obvious reasons.

Slug Hunting – Does this sound fun to you? Me neither, but I have heard that this is yet another method that can be used to get rid of them, the only catch is that you have to be up in the early hours, on a damp night and be prepared to remove them from your wellies before entering the house. I think I will leave that one well alone.

Throw them over the neighbour’s garden – We don’t really recommend this action, simply because it’s not polite and the slugs will still make their way back to your yummy vegetation but I thought it was a great way to end this article and hopefully leave you with an arsenal of insight and a smile.

There are obviously other pests to control but we can cover those in a later article, I hope you enjoyed the read, thanks very much,

Using Coffee To Deter Slugs

Gardeners Breaking EU Law By Using Coffee To Deter Slugs

Gardeners who use coffee granules to keep slugs at bay during this wet summer may be surprised to learn they are in fact breaking EU law.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has warned that placing coffee granules near plants and vegetable patches in the garden to ward off the pests could be against EU regulations.

This summer has been particularly wet – one of the wettest on record, we haven’t had the usual plant dehydration issues that come from a summer drought – which has been great for slugs(take a look at slug control options here that are EU friendly) and snails but a struggle for gardeners who have found their vegetables and plants inundated with the pests. The likes of cabbages and lettuces, in particular, have been munched on heartily by slugs over the last few months. Insects control is of paramount importance in these wet years, the wet great for animals though and a start contract to needing to help wildlife in your garden through a drought.

Organic gardeners want to avoid using chemicals in their gardens and so have been using coffee granules instead of slug pellets, as the caffeine in the coffee deters slugs. This is why tea leaves work well as a deterrent too but they won’t stop other pests.

In The Garden magazine, the RHS warned that such a gardening technique is breaking EU law and gardeners could face big fines. The Independent reports that Dr Andrew Halstead, principal scientist for plant health at the RHS, said that any home-made solution without EU approval is against the law.

Any active ingredient needs to be approved for use and added to an EU list of pesticides, and caffeine has not been tested. This means its impact on the environment, gardeners and surrounding wildlife is unknown.

“All chemicals being used to control or deter animals are classed as pesticides in the UK and EU, and must be registered and approved for this purpose by our own government and the EU,” Dr Halstead said.

“Legislation requires potential pesticides to be extensively tested for effectiveness, environmental safety, operator safety and safety of breakdown products before they can be sold and used.”

Although gardeners are being warned of possible big fines as a result of using coffee to deter slugs, Dr Halstead admits the chances of this actually happening are “remote”. Quite rightly so, how on earth do they expect us to put our coffee remains in the compost bin, yet not directly around our plants baffles me. one of the main things I teach my child in the garden is not to waste, always re-use coffee grindings.

“Anything that has not been through the system is illegal to use as a pesticide, however safe that chemical is perceived to be. Heavy fines can be imposed for breaches of the laws relating to pesticide use; however, the chances of being prosecuted for scattering coffee grounds in a garden are, I suspect, remote.”

Using coffee granules as a mulch or to enhance the compost bin is fine, however. In fact, the gardening benefits of coffee are well known and a number of coffee shops will give away the ground coffee from their machines to gardeners for free, most grindings make excellent base for quality soil and end up in pots or for happy hanging baskets.

Dr Halstead commented: “If you were to use coffee grounds around plants with the intention of providing some organic matter in the form of a mulch, rather than as a slug control/deterrent, then the regulations relating to pesticides would not apply. This may all sound rather daft, but the intention of the pesticides legislation is to prevent people from applying untested dangerous chemicals.”

soap and water on plants to kill insects
soap and water on plants to kill insects

Gardeners use a variety of other means to deter slugs and other pests from their gardens, including soap and water on plants to kill insects and salt to kill slugs.

Bob Flowerdew

Bob Flowerdew, who’s written a number of books on organic gardening, commented on the fact gardeners frequently use soap to kill aphids on plants: “As long as you say, ‘I’m not killing the aphids, I’m giving them a wash, but oh dear they seem to have died accidentally’, it’s OK. It’s the British way: we work our way around the regulations.”