Bird-Friendly Netting for the Home Garden

 Bird-Friendly Netting for the Home Garden

It is horrible to see birds hanging lifeless in nets, hopelessly entangled in plastic rags. Many gardeners use bird netting to protect their plants, but unfortunately most of the bird nets available to protect vegetables and berries are death netting and should never be used in the garden. Fortunately, there are bird-friendly options that will keep your garden and birds safe.

As a general rule, there are only two types of netting that are safe for birds: fine netting, which has holes smaller than your finger, or netting that is so narrow that birds won't get tangled up in it.

Let's take a look at what makes netting safe for birds and eight great nets you can use in your garden.

Why is the right network important?

Most bird nets you can buy are made of flexible plastic with large holes, and they are very dangerous to wildlife. Birds and other animals will try to penetrate the holes and become entangled in the web. Broken wings, injured legs, torn skin, and suffocation are common outcomes. Even if the birds do not suffer physical injuries, the stress of being captured (even for a short period) can be fatal.

To prevent birds from entangling, choose netting where:

The maximum holes on the grid are 5mm x 5mm.
The net is narrow so that the birds do not get tangled.

Benefits of safe nets for birds

In addition to keeping birds safe, choosing the right bird netting has many other benefits:

Durable Good quality bird netting will last for a long time.
An increase in biodiversity. A healthy garden will be full of birds, and we must do what we can to attract them. However, with the wrong network, it is difficult to lure them into a deadly trap.
Better for the Environment: The majority of bird nets are composed of non-recyclable plastic, although appropriate nets may be used repeatedly. Poorly constructed bird nets tear too easily, and non-biodegradable plastic clogs landfills and can endanger even more animals.
Protects most of the birds. The safety net protects all animals, not just birds. Bats, lizards, snakes, possums, and other animals will also get entangled in poor quality nets.

Disadvantages of bird-friendly netting

Unfortunately, there are some downsides to bird safe netting:

beloved. Good quality, wildlife-safe nets can be expensive, depending on the source.
Hard to reach. Most stores sell nets that aren't safe for use in the garden, so you really have to find the right ones
several bird nets that are beneficial to wildlife are constructed of feathers since it is prohibited to install nets with apertures greater than 5 mm in several locations around Australia.  The two companies that are checking out are Polygro and Bunnings, but thankfully they are starting to become readily available all over the world.

8 bird-friendly nets for your garden

In our opinion the disadvantages do not outweigh the advantages. We went through many years of birds eating the berries before we found a good, safe net. Now our berries are well preserved, and birds are thriving in our garden.

1. Roll netting

Many bird-friendly nets come in long rolls that can be easily rolled over and around the berries. They will come in different heights and lengths, though a common size is around 10m by 10m (33 by 33 ft).

Many manufacturers sell netting in rolls but remember that it must pass the "finger test" to be safe for birds and other wildlife! Also, be sure to pin the edges down so the netting stays tight, as birds are more likely to get tangled up when the netting is loose and floppy.

If you have a large section that you want to cover, consider purchasing garden netting that comes in extra large rolls that are usually configured for your specific operation.

2. Tree Bags

If you only have one or two trees, consider wrapping the entire tree in a large mesh bag. The advantages of individually wrapping each tree or shrub are:

Great flexibility in where you can plant.
The time you tune in to the pollination and harvesting needs of different plants.
No need to deal with heavy nets and cages all over your garden.
Fruit Saver has some really cool nets, plus they make a variety of bird-friendly nets.

3. Fruit bags

Instead of covering the entire tree, why not place a mesh bag over the fruit on the branch? This is especially useful if you have a low-yielding shrub or mulching areas that are difficult to reach with a large netting.

4. Heavy duty safety fence

Sometimes called "ice fences," you'll often see safety fences around construction sites or on roadsides. This is a sturdy plastic fence with 2cm to 3cm (1 inch) holes, but the birds won't get tangled because the plastic is so tough.

Although it usually comes in bright orange, you can sometimes find it in green, and it's readily available at hardware stores like Home Depot. It usually comes in rolls that are either 50 feet long or 100 feet long and 4 feet long, and works great on crates or frames.

5. Elk fence

Real elk fencing is similar to safety fencing, but is between 1.8 m and 2.2 m (6–8 ft) high. Again, the holes don't pass the finger test, but the hard plastic is very safe for birds.

You should be careful when shopping for elk fencing because many products with labels like this are very weak and very dangerous to wildlife. Make sure you get original stuff like this here. You can sometimes get it for free from your local fish and wildlife office.

This is what we use in our teepee style frames around our berry bushes and it works great.

6. Poultry nets

More commonly called chicken wire, poultry netting is made of flexible metal wire and is very easy to handle. It is also readily available from garden centers, lumberyards, and hardware stores. We recommend 1-inch eyelets as this will keep most birds out, and it comes in a variety of heights and lengths to suit whatever project you're working on.

Again, poultry netting does not pass the finger test, but it is tough and very safe for birds.

7. Insect trap

Insect nets are used to prevent insects from infesting crops, but they also deter birds. Sometimes called floating row cover at garden centers, it comes in a variety of sizes depending on your needs.

Remember that this net will prevent pollinators from getting to your flowers, so timing is important when placing it.

8. Heel protection net

Hail net is used to protect solar farms, gardens, and car sales places from hail storm damage, and it will also protect shrubs and trees from birds. Plus, you get the added bonus of protection from hail that can be very harmful to your crops.

Birds and garden

Birds are symbols of health and biodiversity, and we love having them in our garden. But it is disappointing that they eat all the berries and make holes in the apples. We've tried many different ways to repel birds, but solid bird netting is the best way to protect valuable crops and enjoy the joy of birdsong while weeding.

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