How do I stop the galahs, cockatoos or other birds ripping up my lawn? We get this question a fair bit actually and usually from those with kikuyu lawns. But why do that they do it and how do you stop them?
Let’s start by looking at why it’s occurring in the first place.
First reason you might want to look at is whether there is an abundance of grubs or beetle larvae within the soil that they like to feed on. This is usually birds like magpies or crows that do this.
For the most part the birds are actually a blessing here as they will help to keep the grubs under control and in limited numbers. When these grubs get out of hand, they can do quite a bit of damage, so the birds are doing you a favour and the damage the birds themselves cause is usually minimal.
Another cause of bird activity or birds ripping up your lawn is the lawn itself. Birds like cockatoos and galahs have a purely vegetarian diet and they feed off seeds and vegetation.
One particular delicacy they enjoy is the starchy underground runners beneath your lawns surface, particularly those in kikuyu lawns. The problem is they need to dig around and rip at the grass roots to pull them out.
Now you can leave them be and your lawn will recover and survive just fine. That’s our first recommendation. But if they have become more than just an inconvenience and they are terrorising your lawn and home destructively, then there are some things you can try to keep them at bay.
A common method many people look at is the use of fake predator birds like owls or hawks. Birds can be smart and figure it out very quickly, so to improve the deception look at moving the owl every few days. Also, best to not put it in an obvious position as real owls do not like to be seen too easily.
This fake owl also has eyes that flash and it makes a hooting sound when the motion sensor is activated.
There are also some irrigation products with motion sensors available as well.
Motion activated sprinklers can detect bird movement on the lawn and quickly jet a stream of water at the target area. The sound of the sprinkler turning on combined with the water will frighten them away quickly and harmlessly with only a couple of cups of water required before it turns off again.
There are products you can spray on your lawn that the birds won’t like the taste of. They usually contain the active Aluminium Ammonium Sulphate like this one here by Multicrop called Scat.
The active provides a bitter taste that the birds don’t like but it is completely safe and won’t harm the birds. You can also source alum and mix it up with water yourself, with one teaspoon per litre the advised mix rate.
Other spray mixes we have seen people try include weak black tea and wasabi, all with mixed results for effectiveness.
We are yet to see a method that is 100% effective, but hopefully one of these methods or a combination of all of them will work for you.