Bird Seed That Won’t Sprout Weeds

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Tips on how to keep bird seed from sprouting. What Kind of Birdseed Won’t Make Grass Grow?. Watching the antics of birds hopping on feeders and battling over seed is one of the many reasons to feed wild birds. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong seed or don’t follow good feeding habits, you can end up with a mess of weeds around your feeders. Birds … Looking for a way to feed the birds without turning your lawn into a tiny jungle? Here’s how you can stop bird food from becoming the new wild weed.

What birds are in my backyard?

Common backyard birds in the United States: How to attract them, how to watch them, how to identify them.

Monday, July 6, 2020

14 Tips to keep bird seed from sprouting in your lawn

It is inevitable that uneaten seeds will spill out of your bird feeders. The birds themselves may knock some of it out in all of their activity. This uneaten seed will germinate and sprout in your lawn under your feeders. How do you keep sprouting bird seed under control?

You can keep bird seed from sprouting by changing your seeds, changing your feeder, and changing your landscaping using the 14 tips that follow.

First, let’s find out a bit about the seeds in the birdseed! What is it?

Almost all bird seed will sprout. If an unwanted plant is defined as a weed, then bird seed that sprouts is a weed. Some sprouting bird seed may look like grass at first. But bird seeds grow into whatever seed you are feeding: sunflowers, millet, wheat, milo, flax, rapeseed, canary seed. How do you keep bird seed from growing under your feeder?

Change your seeds

Sterilized seeds

Sterilized seeds are heated so that they die. If they fall on the ground they will not germinate and sprout.

Tip 1) Feed Niger seed (thistle)

Niger is not really thistle. This plant seed is also sold under the trademark name Nyjer. It does not germinate and sprout in your lawn–for one very good reason.

In 2001 the USDA required imported Niger seed for birds to be sterilized for 15 minutes at 120˚ C (248˚ F). This sterilizes the seeds.

Since it is sterilized it will not sprout under your bird feeder. This is a favorite food of small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and house finches.

Tip 2) Sterilize your own seeds

The Niger seed is the only bird seed you are likely to find that has been sterilized. But you can sterilize your own bird seed the very same way. Baking bird seed will stop it from sprouting.

Spread bird seed on a flat baking sheet that has a lip all the way around. Preheat your conventional oven to 250˚ F. Place the baking sheet with bird seed in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.

Alternatively, I have seed directions to place 5 pounds of bird seed into a paper sack and cook in the microwave on High for 5 minutes. I have also heard some people have accidentally burned their bird seed this way. So try it for lesser amounts of time. Then put it in wet conditions (e.g., damp paper towel in bottom of a glass) for 7 days and see if it sprouts or not.

This sounds like way too much work, though. How about some other ideas?

Feed only seeds that birds like

Just like you, birds have a preference of foods they like. They get up on the feeder and scratch through the mixed seeds, searching for their favorite food.

Many types of mixed bird seed contains filler: cheap seeds that most birds don’t like. Birds toss aside the undesirable seed, often on the ground. This discarded bird seed is likely to sprout.

Tip 3) Feed one type of bird seed in separate feeders

Feeding one type of seed in each feeder will result in birds only visiting the feeder with their favorite foods. They’ll eat this seed, not throw it away. Thus, less bird seed will fall on the ground to sprout.

This tip doesn’t stop accidental spillage. It stops birds from throwing away seeds they don’t like.

Tip 4) Buy fresh bird seed

Cheap bird seed may be cheap for a reason. It may be stale and old. Birds may toss it aside looking for something fresh. Or they may abandon the feeder altogether. Birds will eat more of the fresh seed and not toss away the old. It is best not to store bird seed from one season to the next. Buy new.

Tip 5) Don’t buy bird seed with milo

Most birds don’t like milo. They throw it out of the feeder. It sprouts.

Wheat, rapeseed and canary seed are similar.

Why is milo in bird seed? Chickens like it in chicken scratch. It is very cheap and the bird seed manufacturers already use it. Some bird seed is more than 50% milo. It ends up growing in your lawn.

Wagner’s Songbird Supreme bird seed is my favorite for attracting the most kind of birds to my feeder. If it isn’t available, a close second is Wagner’s Greatest Variety. These are Amazon affiliate links that help support this blog. Thank you.

No mess bird seed

Tip 6) Feed No-mess bird seed

Many mixed seed varieties feature a no-mess or no-waste bird seed. These contain such bird foods as hulled sunflower seeds (seeds without hulls), hulled white proso millet, sunflower chips (hulled and broken), peanut pieces, cracked corn, dried fruits, and nuts (without the shell).

You can purchase a mixed blend containing those seeds and others. You can buy hulled sunflower and other seeds.

Not only will these seeds stop bird seed from sprouting, there will also be no mess from the inedible seed hulls. This is great for patios, lawns, and other areas where you don’t want any mess under the feeder.

Change your feeder

Feeders themselves don’t stop bird seed from sprouting. However, the bird feeder and how it is hung up can change the amount of seed falling to the ground uneaten.

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Stabilize bird feeders

Tip 7) Stop your bird feeders from swinging

Some bird seed may spill from your feeder as it sways in the wind. Even birds jumping on and off the feeder may cause it to swing wildly. You may need to shorten the hanger. You may try tying the bottom of the feeder. You may add weight to the bottom of the feeder. It may be that you need to buy a different, perhaps shorter and wider, bird feeder.

Or, perhaps, the bird feeder pole is swaying. In that case, you need a stouter pole or a lighter feeder. A light feeder may swing in the wind easier, though.

Catch those seeds!

Seed catcher

Tip 8) Install a seed catcher on the bird feeder pole or hang below your feeder

You can buy seed catcher trays that hang under most styles of bird feeders. Then you can catch both the discarded hulls and any whole seeds that might have fallen from the feeder. It keeps the ground under your bird feeder much cleaner!

Proper feeder for proper seeds

Tip 9) Feed birds black oil sunflower seeds in tube feeders with small feeder ports

Birds such as chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches eat only one sunflower seed at a time. They fly away to a tree branch to hammer it open to eat the kernel inside. Then they return to the feeder. This feeding behavior causes fewer seeds to be spilled.

House finches sit on the feeder and “chew” the seeds, cracking them open and dropping the hulls out of the feeder. Sometimes the birds accidentally pull out extra seeds that drop to the ground. But there is certainly less fallen seed than in hopper and platform feeders, where birds stand in the tray with the seeds.

Tip 10) Feed mixed bird seed in a low platform feeder

Platform feeders are messy. Birds stand in the feeder with the seeds.

Birds that like to eat from platform feeders, like sparrows and towhees, naturally kick the ground with both feet at once in a kind of hop-kick. They do this on the ground to dig up the soil and turn over leaves. They do this in the feeder, too. They can’t help themselves.

A low platform feeder doesn’t stop the amount of bird seeds kicked out. But it does help keep it confined to a smaller area. Then those ground-feeding birds can locate the spilled seeds easier and eat more of it up from the ground.

Change your landscaping

Make the ground under your feeder easier to clean

The inedible hulls of the sunflower seeds that the birds “spit out” have a natural chemical that keeps most other plant seeds from germinating. Thus, the ground under your feeder is often bare of grass.

Tip 11) Add pavers or flagstones under your feeders

Since the ground under your feeders may be a mess anyway, add pavers. A square of 9 or 16 pavers set close together will be easy to sweep up. Seeds that fall in the cracks and sprout are easy to pull up.

Tip 12) Clean up spilled seed before it sprouts

Regularly rake or sweep up the hulls and spilled seeds before they germinate. You may wish to invest in an outdoor backpack vacuum/blower. You need one anyway, for those fall leaves, right?

Accept the mess!

Tip 13) Move your feeders to the edge of your lawn where it doesn’t matter

Perhaps there’s an area at the edge of your lawn that you can let go to dirt. This can be under some evergreen bushes. It could be at the edge of a “wild” area.

Tip 14) Create a flower garden under your feeder

Remember I said that sunflower hulls prevent some other plants from growing? Some. Not all.

Plant flowers under your bird feeder and let them grow wild! Wild geraniums, day lilies, clematis, lupines, dahlias, mint, cotoneaster, lemon balm, purple coneflowers. Get the idea? A few stray bird seed sprouts won’t even be noticed!

What Kind of Birdseed Won’t Make Grass Grow?

Watching the antics of birds hopping on feeders and battling over seed is one of the many reasons to feed wild birds. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong seed or don’t follow good feeding habits, you can end up with a mess of weeds around your feeders. Birds know what they like and will pick through seed mixes to find what they want, leaving the discarded seeds to sprout. Choosing the right seed can keep your garden tidy as you continue to feed your avian visitors.

No Waste Mixes

Most wild bird mixes found in stores that don’t specialize in birdseed contain an abundance of milo and millet. While some birds such as juncos and sparrows love millet, many other species will pick through, trying to get to other items in the mix. Few birds eat milo. As the birds pick through the mix, millet and milo fall to the ground and will eventually sprout into grass-like weeds. To avoid this, visit a store that specializes in wild bird food and choose a mix specially designed for what the birds in your area prefer. The food may cost more, but much less will make its way to the ground to become a weed.

Sunflower Chips

Sunflower chips are hulled sunflower seeds that are chopped into pieces. With the kernel hulled and chopped, the seed won’t sprout. Sunflower chips make an excellent feeder choice because they are one of the top seed choices by a variety of birds including jays, woodpeckers, finches, grosbeaks and chickadees.

Cracked Corn

Cracked corn consists of dried corn that is split into pieces. Unlike whole kernels of corn, the pieces of cracked corn can no longer sprout. Jays, doves, quail, sparrows and even ducks are attracted to feeders that contain cracked corn.

Nyjer Thistle

Although it sounds like a weed, nyjer thistle is not the standard thistle with the purple bloom that gardeners try to keep out of their yards. Nyjer thistle is a small black seed favored by birds such as finches, juncos and pine siskins. Quality nyjer thistle is typically heated so it won’t sprout. If a few plants do sprout, they rarely grow to a mature plant in North America.

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Feeding Tips

Feeding your birds wisely helps reduce seed waste and therefore helps control any likelihood of grass or other weeds growing under your feeders. Using a bird feeder with a seed-catching tray underneath helps catch any discarded seed before it hits the ground. Providing one type of seed in each feeder will keep birds from picking through mixes to find the type of seed they like. In addition to seed, set out fruit, suet and hummingbird feeders to attract a wide array of wild birds.

8 Proven Strategies to Stop
Bird Seed from Sprouting in Your Lawn!

Looking for a way to feed the birds without turning your lawn into a tiny jungle? Here’s how you can stop bird food from becoming the new wild weed.

David A. Swanson

What’s This Post About?

If you’re an avid bird watcher and wish to turn your lawn into any bird’s favorite B&B, this post is for you. Most people that put out bird feeders and regularly fill them up with bird seeds, are struck with just one problem: How to keep bird seeds from sprouting in your lawn?

Unwanted bird seeds can sprout wildly and ruin the whole idea of a well-kept, well-mowed backyard. For those interested in making sure the birds are fed and the lawn looks gorgeous, we have a couple of tips to prevent any unwanted plantations to make room in your lawn.

To prevent bird seed from sprouting and the growth of stray weeds in your lawn, you can use sterilized seeds, seed catchers, or even tube feeders to solve the problem. These strategies will ensure the birds are fed and your backyard and lawn look beautiful.

How to Keep Bird Seed from Sprouting in Your Lawn?

To keep bird seed from sprouting in your lawn use a seed catcher to catch extra seeds. Otherwise, use sterilized seeds which will never sprout.

To put it simply, there are only two main concerns. The first being, how to prevent seeds from making a mess in your backyard? Or! Even if they do fall, how to keep bird seeds from sprouting in your lawn?

The first strategy focuses on the ways to prevent the birds from dropping the seeds in your lawn while they eat. For this, you can simply attach a seed catcher, just below the bird feeder, on the pole, to catch the excess.

The second strategy focuses on the termination of the sprouting process. How to do this? Use sterilized seeds! Its literally as simple as that. You can either buy sterilized seeds off the market or sterilize them at home by yourself.

Either way, even if the seeds fall into your lawn, the germination will never occur. Hence, maintaining the integrity of your backyard.

If you would like to read up on this in more detail, read through the post as we uncover the numerous other ways on how to keep bird seeds from sprouting in your lawn, and how you can go about each one of them on your own, to prevent your lawn from looking shabby and untidy.

1. Use Sterilized Seeds

Sterilized seeds are your lawn’s non-sprouting best friend.

A very easy way to avoid bird seed sprouting is to feed your backyard birds some sterilized seeds. More specifically: Nyjer

Nyjer seeds are sterilized at high temperatures to prevent them from germinating. They are in some way ‘dead seeds’ and will therefore, not sprout even if they fall into the soil while the birds feed.

While all seeds that are available in the market are not sterilized, if you wish to buy a certain brand of seeds, you can sterilize them at home, on your own.

To do this, simply bake the seeds in a preheated oven at 250f for 15 minutes.

You can also microwave your seeds on a high setting for 5 minutes. However, this has been reported to often cause bird seeds to burn. Try to microwave over small intervals of time and place the seeds in a clean jar under a damp towel to see if they germinate.

Once the seeds are sterilized, they are ready to be put out for the birds to feed on, without any stress of possible stray weeds in your lawn.

2. Feed Them Their Favorite Seeds

Birds are slightly picky eaters. Feed them only what they love.

Most bird seeds available in the market are filled with filler seeds. These are cheap, stale seeds mixed with good quality seeds for a bulk effect.

Birds usually pick out only their favorite, fresh seeds from the feeder to have, and enjoy. In this picking process, the unwanted seeds fall out of the feeder, into the lawn and, eventually sprout.

To prevent this, use only fresh seeds for your feeders. To know which ones your birds like, observe them closely.

Put out different seeds in separate feeders, to see which ones get eaten the most. Once you’re certain, use only those seeds in the feeders, to avoid recurrent spillage.

Never feed birds wet seeds. Not only will they chuck them away, if accidentally ingested these can be dangerous for some birds.

3. Use Tube Feeders

One seed per bird feed will keep the mess away.

Some birds, such as the chickadees, nuthatches and titmouses, eat only one seed at a time.

They do this by only picking out one sunflower seed, and flying to a nearby branch to crack it open and devour the kernel inside.

For these birds, it is best to use tube feeders, not only will this avoid unnecessarily spillage, it will also be far easier for the birds in your neighborhood to eat through such convenient feeders, as they won’t be able to accidentally pull out more than one seed at a time.

If you’re looking to buy these tube feeders for your lawn, explore the Droll Yankees A-6RP Classic Ring Pull Sunflower Seed Bird Feeder on Amazon.

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Droll Yankees A-6RP Classic Ring Pull Sunflower Seed Bird Feeder

This awesome tube bird feeder holds up to 1 pound of birdseed!

4. Make Sure Your Bird Feeder is Stable

The more stable your feeder, the more miniscule the spillage.

A bird seeder that swings, is crooked or is placed on an uneven platform can be one major reason for causing a large amount of bird seeds to fall out into your lawn.

If the birds jump excitedly on an already crooked bird feeder, this might further worsen the situation.

You can stabilize your bird feeders in the following ways:

  • Use a shorter and wider bird feeder.
  • Place anchors or weights beneath the bird feeder.
  • Shorten the hanger of the bird feeder.

If the pole of the bird feeder is mobile:

  • Buy a broader and shorter pole.
  • Buy a heavier feeder, lighter ones are more mobile with the wind.

5. Use a Seed Catcher

Catch ‘em before they sprout.

This one is highly effective. If you are worried about constant bird seed spillage in your backyard, get yourself a seed catcher. These are broad metal, wood or mesh trays that catch any discarded seeds that may drop off from your feeder.

Birds while feeding, usually break the seeds before they eat them, the hulls of those seeds, therefore fall off the feeder and into your lawn. Seed catchers can catch these hulls as well.

The area beneath your feeder will remain far cleaner by using a seed catcher. You can explore this high rated (4.2 out of 5 stars) seed catcher on Amazon.

Songbird Essentials SEIA30024 Seed Hoop Seed Catcher

I wholeheartedly recommend this Seed Hoop Seed Catcher & Platform Feeder

6. Add Some Pavers

Concrete is easier to clean, add pavers under your bird feeder.

If buying seed catchers or sorting through bird seeds is not something you’re into, you can alter the landscape of your bird feeders.

Since the ground under the feeders will have some spillage regardless, one way to fix the problem is by cleaning it up. To make your lives easier, add pavers.

Pavers will make any seed spillage, easier to clean up. If in case some seeds fall through the cracks, they can easily be pulled out.

7. Use Low Platform Bird Feeders

Reduce the area of ground your seeds can cover by concentrating them to smaller corners.

Sparrows and towhees like to feed by kicking the ground in search of food. These birds are platform feeders.

Though low platform bird feeders will not avoid seed spillage, it will however make sure that the spillage remains to a more confined area.

This way, birds such as sparrows can look for these seed concentrated areas specifically, and kick around the soil to have as many as they can find.

This will clean up some spillage in your lawn and avoid any wild sprouting.

8. Regular Cleanup is Important!

Lawns require daily cleaning to avoid weeds.

To avoid the sprouting of any bird seeds, you can simply, clean up the spillage before they sprout.

To do this, you may need an outdoor vacuum cleaner or a blower. This way, the seeds will be off the lawn before they germinate, preventing any wild plantations in your backyard.

If you’re looking for a vacuum, you can check out this brilliant post aboutUS-Based Vacuum Cleaners!

Alternate Solutions

Make the mess look deliberate.

Although some may be perfectionists when it comes to their lawn looking absolutely spick and span, there may be another way for those who would prefer more low maintenance strategies to making their lawn look tidy.

To those I say: Accept the mess! And let your bird seeds grow wild!

If you place your bird feeders at the far end or a cozy corner in your lawn, and plant some wildflowers just beneath the feeder? The sprouting seeds might just add to the wilderness effect and make your lawn look both put together and wild at the same time.

The effect is a beautiful stark contrast to a manmade lawn and a wild jungle corner. Trust us, try it and you won’t regret it!

To create a ‘wilderness corner’, you can plant: Day lilies, clematis, lupines, dahlias, mint or even lemon balm for a more pre-planned natural effect.

Keep Reading!

The aforementioned strategies are a sure-shot way on how to keep bird seeds from sprouting in your lawn. Whether you choose a manual cleanup, or an automatic seed catcher, it’s up to you.

Either way, preventing the germination of bird seeds in your lawn will just require some time and care. Remember that the gardening and maintaining process is not one of haste, effort is always required for the best results.

In the meanwhile, if you are also exploring options in figuring out which feeder is best for hummingbirds in particular, then read our post here.

Best Bird Feeders for Hummingbirds: The 13 Top Rated Feeders

Are you a hummingbird lover? Make this adorable little bird visit your garden by adding one of these top-rated feeders to your backyard.

By David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I’m the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I’ve become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I’ve learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

David A. Swanson

Bird Watching USA

My name is David and I’m the the founder of Bird Watching USA! I started Bird Watching with My father-in-law many years ago, and I’ve become an addict to watching these beautiful creatures. I’ve learnt so much over about bird watching over the years that I want to share with the world everything I know about them!

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