How To Keep Birds From Eating Tomatoes In Your Garden

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

A juicy ripe tomato in your garden is a sign of a job well done. You have likely waited very patiently for months for your tomatoes to ripen in order to feast on them. This makes it all the more tragic when you go to your garden to pick tomatoes only to see that birds have savagely feasted on your pride and joy. In order to avoid this heartbreak, you will want to know all the ways to keep birds from eating tomatoes in your garden.

In order to keep birds from eating tomatoes in your garden, consider installing cages or netting around your tomatoes and other vulnerable plants. You can also create row coverings, or even relocate them to your greenhouse if you have one. You can try to scare the birds off with shiny objects, wind chimes, or even statues that resemble owls and other predators.

Birds are great to look at from afar, but they can also be quite a nuisance in some cases. They can wreak havoc on a vegetable garden, especially later in the season as everything begins to ripen. As vegetables emerge from their blossoms, you should do everything you can to protect them from these flying pests. Keep reading below to read about 12 creative and effective ways to keep birds from eating your tomatoes.

12 Ways To Keep Birds From Eating Tomatoes In Your Garden

1. Place Cages Around Your Tomato Plants

One of the most popular and effective ways to keep birds away from your tomatoes is to install cages around the plants. Cages are very popular structures for tomatoes and are often used to help keep heavy and bushy plants, usually the determinate varieties, from sagging and snapping under the pressure of growing weight.

These cages can also be effective at keeping birds away from tomatoes. When you place the cage around each plant, it prevents birds, especially larger species, from getting close enough to peck at your tomatoes. Keep in mind, however, that if smaller birds are the culprits, they might be able to sneak into the cage and do damage.

2. Install Bird Netting

When smaller birds are the issue, you might need to install netting in addition to (or instead of) a wire cage. If you already have cages around your plants but find birds are getting to them, you can use bird netting around these cages to create a foolproof barrier.

Netting is also an excellent option for those who grow indeterminate, or cluster and vine tomatoes. These plants can’t be kept in cages, but you can easily set up four wooden posts around the plant area and use a staple gun to enclose the space in netting. This will keep out birds as well as deer and other animals that love grazing on ripe tomatoes.

3. Put Them In A Greenhouse

If you are fortunate enough to have a greenhouse, you might want to consider placing some of your tomato plants in the greenhouse for protection. A greenhouse is a fantastic way to keep your most prized vegetables safe from all sorts of dangers, including birds.

As long as your greenhouse closes on all sides, there is no way birds can get in and help themselves to your tomatoes. Greenhouses are usually prime real estate, so consider using this space only for your heirloom and other treasured varieties of tomato.

4. Hang Bird Feeders On The Other Side Of The Yard

In addition to blocking birds from the tomatoes, you can distract and attract them to a different area of your yard. One way to keep birds on the other side of your yard from your garden is with bird feeders.

You can set up one or more bird feeders far away from your garden. While this might, in theory, bring birds to the yard, it will also keep them away from the garden. By giving birds exactly what they want (food), they are less likely to go through the work of locating and pecking away at your tomatoes.

5. Row Coverings

You can also try using row coverings if you plant your tomatoes in rows. This method works particularly well for those who plant indeterminate tomatoes in a row, almost like wine vines.

Row coverings are great for all sorts of reasons. You can use them to keep insects and other pests away, as well as protect them from foul weather. Row covers are great if you want your plants to have a controlled environment, which is critical if you live somewhere with unpredictable weather or with many hungry birds.

6. Pick The Tomatoes Early And Often

Another tip to help keep your birds from eating the tomatoes in your garden is to pick them before they are ripe. Birds are much more likely to go after ripe tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes have higher sugar content, more fragrance, and are more colorful.

These attributes all tend to attract birds. If you pick tomatoes a bit early, then birds are less likely to go after them. In most cases, your tomatoes will continue to ripen normally even after they are picked. You might even want to consider choosing varieties of tomatoes that do this to ensure this option works well for you.

7. Purchase Decorative Wind Spinners In The Garden

Windmills and wind-spinning devices are also effective ways of keeping birds away. Birds are scared of movement, especially strange and unfamiliar movements. Use windmills or different wind spinners to spruce up your garden and also keep the birds away from your tomatoes.

8. Distract Them With Birdbaths

Another distraction method to keep birds awa y from your tomatoes is a birdbath. Just like with a bird feeder, consider placing a birdbath far away from your garden. Birds get hungry, but they also love water.

If you have a birdbath and a bird feeder close together, but far from your vegetable garden, you should be able to keep your tomato losses to a minimum. This is also a great way to enjoy birds in your yard without having to deal with so many of the negatives.

9. Purchase A Scarecrow

It might be a bit old school, but a scarecrow not only scares crows, one of these can scare away most birds. Scarecrows have worked for more than one hundred years to keep birds out of fields and gardens.

You can have fun with the scarecrow and dress him or her up in different seasonal outfits. Or take a more classical approach, and go with a traditional scarecrow to give your garden an old country living type of vibe. Either way, a scarecrow should definitely help mitigate your bird problem.

10. Put Reflective Objects In The Garden

Shiny objects, especially those that move, tend to be highly effective at keeping birds away. You can hang old CDs and DVDs, or use other reflective garden artwork. There are usually reflective pieces you can find at garden supply stores for this exact purpose.

Birds are easily spooked by reflective surfaces. If you don’t want something as large as a scarecrow, consider installing a few shiny objects near your tomatoes to keep the birds away.

11. Hang Wind Chimes

Wind chimes provide soothing sounds and ambience to any outdoor space. They are also great at keeping nearby birds at bay. Wind chimes actually work in two ways to keep birds away from your tomatoes.

For one, they tend to move in the wind. This movement can scare off the birds. But what’s more, is the sounds. The sounds wind chimes make will often scare the birds away from the area, keeping your tomatoes safe to grow another day.

12. Purchase A Life-Like Statue Of A Owl Or Other Predator

Lastly, you can think about buying a lifelike statue of one of a bird’s predators. One of the most popular statues is that of an owl. You can also try a hawk or even a snake statue. Birds know the silhouettes of these creatures and usually do their best to avoid them at all costs. For best results, however, make sure you move around the statue from time to time.

Final Advice On Keeping Birds Away From Your Tomatoes

Birds are fun to look at from your window, but they can cause havoc in your garden. They particularly love eating ripe tomatoes. Before your tomatoes ripen, take steps to keep birds from eating them.

You can place your tomato plants in cages, or surround them with netting. If you have a greenhouse, consider putting your most prized tomato plants in the greenhouse. You can also distract the birds with bird feeders and a bird bath far from the garden. Use a scarecrow, an owl statue, or shiny reflective objects to scare them away.

Related Guides:

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey