How to Keep Birds From Digging Up the Flower Pots on My Deck

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Things You'll Need

  • Toothpicks

  • Chicken wire

  • Duct tape

  • Bird repellent

  • Visual scare devices


Do not attempt to trap, shoot or kill a bird unless absolutely certain the species is not protected by the Federal government.

Birds dig up flower pots looking for food.

Gardeners place flower pots on their deck to add color and a touch of nature to the setting. While keeping beautiful flowers and herbs right outside your door is an inviting prospect to many people, sparrows, robins and other birds find the prospect inviting as well and oftentimes dig up flower pots on decks in search of seeds, worms and other types of food. Combating hungry birds can be daunting for many gardeners, but some simple additions and exclusions to the flower pots can help keep birds from digging up the plants and soil within.

Step 1

Stand toothpicks upright in the soil. The pointed ends make birds less likely to land and peck at the soil.

Step 2

Cover the top of the flower pots with a wire mesh, such as chicken wire, that allows access to sunlight and rain but prevents the birds from being able to reach the soil. Cut a hole in the wire for the stem of the flower plant and secure the mesh to the pot using duct tape or another adhesive.

Step 3

Apply a bird repellent to the pot. The Illinois Department of Public Health suggests using a sticky polybutene gel product on the edge of the pot to discourage birds from landing. Birds also avoid methyl anthranilate, or the extract of grape flavoring. Apply methyl anthranilate directly to plants and soil.

Step 4

Position pinwheels or other moving devices in the pots to scare away birds. Flashing lights, flags and balloons are other options offered by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Try another visual scare device if the current one is ineffective for seven days.


Brad Chacos

Brad Chacos started writing professionally in 2005, specializing in electronics and technology. His work has appeared in, Gizmodo, "PC Gamer," "Maximum PC,",, "Wired,", and more. Chacos is a frequent contributor to "PCWorld," "Laptop Magazine" and the Intuit Small Business Blog.