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How to Clean Up Bird Seed on the Ground?

how to clean up bird seed on the ground
Why is it important to know how to clean up bird seed on the ground? If you just installed a bird feeder in your yard then you probably noticed that birds are not clean eaters. After just a couple of days, you will see that quite a lot of birdseed is scattered on the ground.

Because of how small bird seed typically is, cleaning it up off the ground is borderline impossible. If you have a grass lawn, cleaning bird seed gets even more difficult. However, it does get somewhat easier if you know the proper techniques, which you will be learning in this article.

Step-by-Step Guide

Using A Rake and Vacuum

using a rake clean up bird seed

What to prepare:

  • A garden rake
  • A shop vac
  • A garbage bag
  • Gardening gloves

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Weed out the sprouts

If it has been a while since you placed your bird feeder, and you haven’t cleaned underneath it yet, most of the birdseed must have sprouted. If this is the case, then you need to put on your gardening gloves and start pulling out the sprouted bird seed. Toss the weeds into the garbage bag to keep them from re-growing.

Step 2 – Rake the grass

After you have pulled out the weeds, grab your gardening rake and lightly rake over the grass underneath the feeder. What the rake does is loosen the birdseed in the grass, allowing them to go to the surface. Do not rake so harshly that you pull out the grass.

Step 3 – Vacuum the loose birdseed

After loosening the birdseed with your rake, you can now use your shop vac to suck them up. Make sure to do a couple of passes over the grass to make sure that you pick up all the spilled birdseed.

Using Mulch

using mulch clean up bird seed

You can use garden mulch to prevent the spilled bird seed from sprouting. The birdseed can also improve the mulch.

What to prepare:

  • Mulch – Just enough to cover a 3-foot radius area around the base of the feeder with a 2-inch layer of mulch. This will be the key to how to keep bird seed from falling on the ground.
  • A garden rake
  • A shop vac

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Clean around the base

You need to do a bit of preliminary cleaning so that you don’t have to deal with as much birdseed later. Use the rake to loosen the birdseed that has gotten into the grass. And then vacuum the birdseed that pops up to the top.

Step 2 – Lay down the mulch

With the base prepared, you can start laying down the mulch. Lay down the mulch around the base of the birdfeeder. Cover at least a 3-foot radius around the base of the feeder so that it can catch as much of the falling birdseed as possible.

Step 3 – Turn over the mulch every week or so

After a week or so has passed, use a shovel or a garden fork to turn over the mulch. This will put the spilled birdseed underneath to prevent the sprouts from receiving any sunlight so they will not grow any further. This will also keep the birdseed moist, making it possible for them to decompose faster.

Move the Feeder Every Month

prevents bird seed sprout weed

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Leave the bird feeder in one spot for about a month

Bird feeders are not necessarily permanently mounted in place. So, install your bird feeder in place for about a month. You do not need to clean underneath it quite as much for the time being.

Step 2 – Relocate the bird feeder to another place

After a month or so, uproot the feeder from its original place and then install it in another area in your yard. This will give the spilled birdseed enough time to properly decompose and not pile up on top of each other. In addition, this will deter wild animals from going into your yard because the feeder seldom stays in one place.

Why Do You Need to Clean the Birdseed?

how to keep bird seed from falling on the ground

There are various reasons why you need to clean the birdseed from your feeder that fell on the ground, other than having to look at the litter and the grown seeds. Here are some of them:

Prevents wild bids from getting sick

When birdseed falls on the ground, it will get wet. Unfortunately, not all seeds that get wet will germinate. Some will get moldy. Now, guess what happens to a wild bird who eats moldy bird seed? They can get seriously sick, and maybe even die. Cleaning the spilled birdseed is the responsible thing to do.

Prevents wild animals from going into your yard

Birds are not the only animals that love eating bird seed. Rats, mice, raccoons, and other rodents also love them. In addition, if you live in bear country, they are also known to eat seeds. If you do not want to garner unwanted attention from the local wildlife, clean the spilled birdseed often.

Prevents bird seed sprout weeds

What do you think will happen to birdseed that falls on the ground? If the local wildlife does not get to them first, they will start sprouting and growing. It would somehow be great if the seeds that grew were all sunflowers, but typically, birds throw away the millet seeds. And millet is a type of grass and not a particularly pretty one at that.


If you have a bird feeder in your yard, then you should also know how to clean up bird seed on the ground. There are many reasons why you need to clean the birdseed, not the least of which is getting wild birds sick.

Although cleaning spilled birdseed is a bit of a chore, it is something that you need to do. Not only will you preserve the look of your yard, but you will also be protecting the local wildlife. So, even if it is a bit hard to do, you still need to clean the spilled birdseed that is on the ground. Your birds will thank you later.

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