Outdoor Setup

One thing I learned last summer is that birds eat succulents. I had decided to put the few succulents I had at that point outside; within a day, some were completely gone, and others had scars and large chunks missing.

At first I couldn’t figure out what was going on, so a stakeout was in order. From inside, looking through my sliding door, I started seeing birds visiting my planters. At first I didn’t think they could be the culprits, but then I saw it – sure enough, they were chomping on my plants.

I did some research into methods of keeping birds away without using a physical barrier. Unfortunately, birds are tricky. They don’t respond to some of the sprays that keep animals like deer and squirrels away (these lovely sprays have a rotten smell meant to mimic the scent of decay, which tricks animals into thinking predators live nearby). One possibility I encountered was using cayenne pepper, but then I read that it can be damaging to animals who inhale it.

In the end, I decided to go the physical barrier route. I didn’t want something that looked haphazard, so I designed a cover to go with a Terrain table that I had fallen in love with, and my always-helpful dad built it.

This is the final product:

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The funny thing is, there were no plant-eating birds this summer. Isn’t that typical? Still, I found myself looooving this cover. Not only does it keep general debris like leaves and branches out of my collection, it protects the plants from the abundance of hail we have had this summer. And, as a final bonus, it keeps most bees out. I realize keeping bees out sounds strange, as gardeners most of us love bees! However, they carry aphids and spider mites, two big pests of succulents that can wipe out an entire collection.

So, basically, this thing is pretty fantastic.

Of course, since purchasing the table I’ve accumulated so many plants that it now holds less than half, so I have to prioritize which plants get the protection of the cover. If that table wasn’t so darn expensive, I’d add another in a heartbeat.

Hopefully I can figure out what to build/buy for the rest of my plants by next spring when things go back outside!

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2 comments

  1. Awesome blog! Hope your “project” is going well thee days. I just planted out a bunch of sedums, ice plants and sempervivums…and was mystified as to how they were slowly being eaten by an unknown entity. Just like you, I performed a stake-out…and it indeed was the birds! House finches, to be precise. I’ve thrown some plastic mesh fencing over them and have attached some long strips of aluminum foil in hopes that the plants will at least be able to establish themselves. If not, I guess I’ve learned a valuable lesson: always check to see if plants aren’t just rabbit and deer proof, but bird proof, as well! Too bad I can’t put a nice mesh frame over my rock garden like your setup. Ah, well. Best wishes, L.

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