How To Keep Birds Off Your Tomato Plants

Last Updated on September 20, 2023 by Susan Levitt

Are you tired of seeing your ripe tomatoes being pecked away by birds before you even get a chance to harvest them? As a horticulturalist, I understand the frustration that comes with trying to protect your precious plants from feathered invaders. Fortunately, there are several effective methods for keeping birds off your tomato plants and ensuring a bountiful harvest.

Firstly, it’s important to identify which types of birds are causing damage in your garden. Some species, such as robins and blue jays, tend to go after fruits like tomatoes while others like sparrows may be more interested in seeds or insects found around the plant. Once you know what kind of bird is causing trouble, you can choose an appropriate method for deterring them. In this article, we’ll discuss some easy and humane ways to keep birds off your tomato plants so that you can enjoy full-flavored, juicy tomatoes all season long.

Identifying The Culprit Birds

As a horticulturist, it’s essential to identify the birds responsible for damaging your tomato plants. Some common culprits include sparrows, finches, and woodpeckers. These birds often peck at the tomatoes or eat the leaves and stems of the plant.

To prevent bird damage in your garden, consider implementing bird-friendly design elements such as birdbaths, feeders, and nesting boxes away from your vegetable patch. This will encourage birds to congregate elsewhere rather than on your prized tomato plants.

Another way to identify problematic birds is by observing their behavior around the garden. If you see them consistently landing on or near your tomato plants, they may be causing damage. Additionally, check closely for any tell-tale signs like holes in fruit or missing foliage.

Now that you have identified which birds are causing harm in your garden let’s move onto scare tactics: using visual deterrents to keep these pesky creatures at bay and protect your precious tomato crop.

Scare Tactics: Using Visual Deterrents

Visual deterrents can be an effective way to keep birds off your tomato plants. One option is using scarecrows, which are human-like figures that can startle and intimidate birds. However, it’s important to move the scarecrow every few days so that the birds don’t become accustomed to its presence.

Another visual deterrent is hanging shiny objects near your tomato plants. This could include CDs or strips of aluminum foil that will reflect light and create a disorienting effect for the birds. You could also try setting up mirrors around your garden to make it look like there are more predators in the area.

In addition to visual deterrents, you can use sound as a way to keep birds away from your tomatoes. For example, you could play recordings of predatory bird calls or invest in a wind chime or bell system that will emit sounds when there’s movement in the area. Birds tend to avoid areas with loud or unfamiliar noises.

Finally, another sense you can target is smell. Certain scents repel birds such as peppermint oil or vinegar diluted in water sprayed on leaves surrounding tomatoes may help deter some species of birds. Other smells they hate include garlic and hot peppers – sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes around your tomato plants—or grow them alongside herbs like basil and parsley—as these plants have strong odors that many types of birds dislike.

By utilizing different combinations of these tactics throughout the growing season, you should be able to effectively ward off any unwanted feathered visitors from feasting on your precious tomato harvest.
Now let’s take a look at how motion-activated sprinklers work as yet another method for keeping those pesky birds at bay.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

One effective solution to keep birds off your tomato plants is by using motion-activated sprinklers. These devices work by detecting movement and spraying water in the direction of the intruder, scaring them away. This method has proven to be quite successful among gardeners, as it not only keeps birds at bay but also other pests.

Effectiveness analysis of motion-activated sprinklers shows that they are highly useful for keeping birds off tomato plants. The sudden burst of water surprises and scares the birds, making them fly away quickly. Additionally, since these sprinklers are activated only when there is movement detected, they do not waste water like traditional sprinkler systems.

When it comes to cost comparison between different bird control methods, motion-activated sprinklers can be a bit more expensive than other solutions such as netting or scarecrows. However, their longevity and efficiency make up for the initial investment over time.

It is important to note that while motion-activated sprinklers can effectively deter birds from eating your tomatoes, they may also startle pets or even humans passing by if triggered accidentally. Therefore, it’s crucial to place them strategically in areas where movement from non-targeted species (such as children) is less likely.

Transition: While motion-activated sprinklers can be an efficient way to protect your tomato plants from avian predators, another alternative worth considering is netting.

Netting Your Tomato Plants

Now that we’ve discussed motion-activated sprinklers, let’s move on to another effective way of keeping birds away from your tomato plants – using netting. Netting is a physical barrier that prevents birds from reaching the fruit while still allowing sunlight and rain to pass through. It can be an affordable and easy DIY solution for protecting your garden.

When it comes to choosing the best netting materials, there are several options available in the market. Nylon or polypropylene nets with small holes (about 0.5 inches) work great as they keep out birds but don’t trap them. You could also opt for bird exclusion netting which has even smaller holes (around 0.25 inches), making it ideal for small songbirds like sparrows.

Before setting up the netting, make sure you have adequate support structures in place such as stakes, poles, or hoops to hold it securely over your plants. Now, here are some DIY netting tips: cut the net into sections according to the size of each plant bed; ensure that there’s enough slack so that leaves and branches don’t get caught in the mesh; use zip ties or twist ties instead of knots to secure the edges together.

Netting is an effective technique used by many experienced horticulturalists when it comes to protecting their crops from unwanted pests like birds. However, it’s important to remember that regular inspection and maintenance are necessary to ensure its effectiveness throughout the growing season. In our next section, we’ll discuss creating a physical barrier around your tomato plants as another viable option for keeping pesky birds at bay.

Creating A Physical Barrier

I’d suggest covering your tomato plants with a layer of bird netting to keep birds at bay. It’s a great way to provide a physical barrier and will protect your plants from their beaks. Another option is to use row covers, which are lightweight fabric that can be draped over your tomato plants. Both of these methods are effective and easy to set up.

See also  How To Keep Birds Out Of Light Fixtures

Cover Plants

If you’re looking for an effective way to keep birds from feasting on your tomato plants, creating a physical barrier is one of the best options. One way to do this is by covering your plants with DIY covers that can be easily fashioned at home. These types of covers are usually made out of materials such as mesh or netting and can work well in keeping birds away while still allowing sunlight and air to reach the plants.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to create your own coverings, there are purchasing options available both online and in garden stores. When choosing a pre-made cover, make sure it’s designed specifically for bird protection and fits snugly around your plants. Some covers may also come with additional features like zippers or drawstrings which can help customize the fit even further.

When using any type of cover, it’s important to regularly monitor your plants for signs of damage or pests that may still find their way through gaps in the material. Additionally, take care when placing covers over young seedlings as they may need more space to grow than established plants. With these considerations in mind, utilizing some form of plant covering can greatly reduce the chances of birds snacking on your hard-earned tomatoes!


Now that we’ve covered the option of DIY covers, let’s take a closer look at using netting as another effective way to create a physical barrier for your tomato plants. Netting comes in various types and can be made from materials like nylon or polypropylene. One advantage of using netting is its effectiveness in keeping birds away without blocking too much sunlight or air flow. Additionally, it can also protect against other pests such as squirrels or rabbits.

When considering using netting, there are some pros and cons to keep in mind. One benefit is that it’s relatively easy to install and can be purchased pre-made or cut to size depending on your needs. Some downsides may include potential damage caused by wind or heavy rain if not secured properly, as well as the possibility of small birds still being able to sneak through gaps in the material.

For those interested in utilizing DIY netting, you’ll need to gather materials such as bird netting, stakes or poles for support, and zip ties or twine for attaching the netting securely. Once you have everything you need, simply drape the netting over your plants and secure it tightly around the base with your chosen method of attachment. Be sure to leave enough space between the netting and plants so they have room to grow while remaining protected.

Overall, whether purchasing pre-made options or opting for DIY solutions, using netting can be an effective way to create a physical barrier around your tomato plants. Just remember to regularly monitor for any signs of damage or pests sneaking through gaps in the material. With proper care and attention, you can enjoy ripe tomatoes all season long!

Applying Repellent Sprays

As gardeners, we want to protect our tomato plants from birds without causing any harm. This is where repellent sprays come into play. Not only do they keep the birds away, but they also ensure that your plants remain healthy and free of chemicals.

Repellent sprays can be made at home using natural alternatives like garlic or chili peppers. These ingredients repel birds due to their strong smell and taste. However, it’s important to take safety precautions when making these sprays as some ingredients may cause skin irritation or respiratory problems if not handled properly.

If you’re not comfortable making your own spray, there are many commercial options available in stores or online. When choosing a spray, make sure it’s safe for use on edible plants and follow the instructions carefully to avoid any mishaps.

Natural alternatives aside, repellent sprays work best when used in combination with other methods such as netting or decoys. In the next section, we’ll discuss plastic owls and other decoys that can help deter birds from your tomato plants.

Plastic Owls And Other Decoys

After applying repellent sprays to your tomato plants, you may want to consider using plastic owls or other decoys as an additional method of keeping birds away. These decoys are designed to mimic the appearance and behavior of natural predators, such as hawks or falcons, which can deter birds from approaching your garden.

Pros of using decoys include their affordability and ease of use. They also don’t require any maintenance once they’re set up in your garden. Plus, unlike spray repellents, decoys won’t harm the environment or pose a risk to wildlife.

However, there are some cons to using decoys that should be considered before investing in them. First, some bird species may eventually become accustomed to the presence of a fake predator and learn that it poses no real threat. Additionally, if the decoy is placed too close to your tomato plants, birds might simply perch on it while still eating your crops.

When placing a plastic owl or other decoy in your garden, keep these tips in mind:

Placement Tips
Place at eye level with birds for maximum effectiveness
Move frequently to avoid habituation by birds
Use multiple types of deterrents for best results

Overall, plastic owls and other decoys can be a useful tool in preventing bird damage to tomato plants. However, they should not be relied upon solely as a means of control. In combination with other methods such as companion planting for natural bird control (which we’ll discuss next), you can create a comprehensive approach to protecting your tomatoes from pesky feathered visitors.

Companion Planting For Natural Bird Control

As the old saying goes, "Birds of a feather flock together." Unfortunately for tomato gardeners, these feathery flocks can wreak havoc on their precious plants. While there are several methods to deter birds from dining on your tomatoes, some may prefer natural and organic solutions. Companion planting is one such solution that not only keeps birds at bay but also provides additional benefits.

Companion planting involves growing different plant species in close proximity to each other for mutual benefit. The benefits of companion planting include improving soil health, attracting beneficial insects, and deterring harmful pests. When it comes to bird control, certain companion plants emit scents or have textures that make them less attractive to birds.

If you’re looking for the best companion plants for your tomato garden, consider marigolds, basil, garlic, onions, and chives. Marigolds emit a strong scent that repels many types of insects and animals. Basil’s pungent aroma deters both birds and insects while enhancing the flavor of your tomatoes. Onions and garlic have a sharp taste and smell that keep most pests away from your entire garden. Chives produce small purple flowers that attract bees and other pollinators while confusing birds with their grass-like texture.

By incorporating these companion plants into your tomato garden, you can create an environment where both your crops and wildlife thrive without conflict. Remember to monitor your garden regularly to adjust any issues or imbalances that arise naturally over time.

See also  How To Provide Water For Birds

Transition: As effective as companion planting can be against bird damage, sometimes more active measures need to be taken when monitoring and adjusting your methods…

Monitoring And Adjusting Your Methods

Companion planting is a great way to naturally keep birds away from your tomato plants. However, it may not always be effective in completely deterring them. This is where monitoring and adjusting your methods come into play.

It’s important to regularly check on your tomato plants to see if any damage has occurred due to bird activity. If you notice signs of pecking or missing fruit, it’s time to reassess your bird control strategy. One method of adjustment could be changing the location of your companion plants around the tomato plant bed.

Another factor that can affect bird behavior around tomato plants is watering habits. Birds are attracted to moist soil as it provides easier access for finding food sources like worms and insects. Adjusting watering schedules so that the soil dries out between waterings can help deter birds from frequenting the area.

Monitoring soil nutrients can also have an impact on bird activity in the garden. A nutrient-rich soil with high levels of nitrogen can attract more pests such as aphids, which in turn attracts more birds looking for a meal. Keeping a balanced level of nutrients in the soil through proper fertilization techniques can help reduce pest populations and minimize bird activity.

In summary, while companion planting is a good start for natural bird control around tomato plants, it may need adjusting depending on individual circumstances. Monitoring for damage and adjusting factors like watering schedules and soil nutrients can make a significant impact on reducing bird activity in the garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Any Type Of Netting To Cover My Tomato Plants, Or Is There A Specific Type That Works Best?

As a horticulturalist, it’s important to choose the right type of netting for your plants. While there are various types available in the market, not all of them may be effective when it comes to keeping birds away from your precious tomato plants. It’s best to opt for a tightly-woven mesh that doesn’t allow birds to peck through and damage your fruits. However, keep in mind that some nets can also trap beneficial insects or cause shading which can affect plant growth. Apart from using bird spikes as an alternative method, consider weighing the pros and cons before making a decision on the type of netting you want to use for your garden.

How Often Should I Apply Repellent Sprays To My Tomato Plants To Keep Birds Away?

As a horticulturalist, I recommend using natural repellent options to keep birds away from your tomato plants. These include essential oils like peppermint and citronella or even homemade garlic sprays. When it comes to the frequency of application, it really depends on the severity of bird damage in your area. Generally speaking, applying the spray every few days during peak growing season should suffice. However, if you notice an increase in bird activity around your garden, consider increasing the frequency of application for optimal protection.

Will Using Plastic Owls Or Other Decoys Also Scare Away Beneficial Birds, Such As Hummingbirds Or Songbirds?

With the use of harmful decoys, such as plastic owls or other scarecrows, it is possible to deter birds from your tomato plants. However, these types of deterrents may also scare away beneficial birds such as hummingbirds and songbirds. As a horticulturalist, I recommend considering alternative deterrents that are less harmful to all species of birds. For example, you can try using reflective tape or netting around your tomato plants to make them less appealing to birds. Additionally, planting herbs like basil or marigolds around your tomatoes will not only add beauty but deter certain bird species due to their strong scent. Remember, while protecting our crops is important, we must be mindful of the impact our methods have on the environment and all living creatures within it.

How Do I Know If A Motion-Activated Sprinkler Is Working Properly And Effectively Deterring Birds?

To ensure that a motion-activated sprinkler is effectively deterring birds from your garden, it’s important to test its effectiveness and troubleshoot any issues. You can start by checking the range and sensitivity of the sensor, making sure it covers the area where the birds are likely to land. You may also need to adjust the water pressure or direction of the spray if birds are still landing on your tomato plants. Additionally, make sure that there aren’t any obstructions blocking the sensor or preventing it from working properly. By testing and troubleshooting these common issues with motion-activated sprinklers, you can keep your garden protected from unwanted avian visitors without harming beneficial birds like hummingbirds or songbirds.

Are There Any Plants That I Should Avoid Companion Planting With Tomatoes, As They May Attract Birds Instead Of Repelling Them?

Companion planting is a great way to create bird-friendly landscaping, but it’s important to choose the right plants. While tomatoes are a popular choice for many gardens, some companion plants may attract birds instead of repelling them. For example, sunflowers and corn can both be attractive to birds, so they may not be the best choices for your garden if you’re trying to keep birds away from your tomato plants. Instead, consider planting herbs like basil or flowers like marigolds, which have insect-repellent properties that can help protect your tomato plants without attracting unwanted visitors. By choosing the right companion plants, you can create an ecosystem in your garden that supports healthy growth and discourages pests and other wildlife from causing damage.


In conclusion, keeping birds away from your tomato plants can be a tricky task, but with the right tools and techniques, it is possible to protect your crop. When choosing netting for your garden, make sure it is specifically designed for bird control and has small enough holes to prevent them from getting through. As for repellent sprays, apply them at least once a week or as directed on the label.

It’s important to note that while plastic owls may work in scaring off some birds, they may also deter beneficial ones such as hummingbirds or songbirds. If you choose to use decoys like these, consider rotating their placement every few days so that birds don’t become accustomed to them. And if you opt for motion-activated sprinklers, test them regularly to ensure they are working properly and effectively deterring birds without wasting water unnecessarily.

As a horticulturalist, I encourage gardeners to try companion planting with herbs like basil or marigolds which help repel pests including birds. Avoid planting fruit-bearing trees nearby since they will attract more birds than usual during harvest season. With patience and persistence, implementing these strategies can help keep pesky birds at bay and give you a bountiful harvest of tomatoes!

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