How to Protect Your Vegetable Garden After Planting Seeds


Keeping the birds and other creatures from making snacks out of your newly-planted garden can be half the battle of raising vegetables successfully. Unfortunately, there is no foolproof way to protect emerging seedlings completely, but there are ways to increase the odds of more plants making it to yield time. Some old-time favorites that give mixed results include scarecrows, plastic owl statues and aluminum pans tied with twine left flapping in the wind. Probably the most effective way to protect a new garden is the use of floating row covers. These are made of a fine synthetic mesh that allows most of the sun's rays and water through but keeps birds and flying insects out.

Step 1

Stretch a floating row cover, doubled over for two-layer protection, loosely over each newly-seeded row. Cut it at the end to the desired length, if necessary.

Step 2

Secure one side with garden staples, using a rubber mallet if needed. Place staples about 6 feet apart.

Step 3

Pull the mesh across the row, smoothing out any folds. Let the material lie slightly loose. If it's too loose the material may rip in windy conditions.

Step 4

Staple the other side into place parallel to the first set of staples and 3 or 4 feet away.

Step 5

Water your plants through the mesh without removing it. Remove staples from one side as needed to weed or to check on emerging plants and re-staple when finished.

Tips and Warnings

  • Store row covers in a dry place free from rodents. Row covers are ideal bedding material for mice and other rodents. Some row covers are rated for frost protection while others are simply used for protection. While a row cover can raise the temperature beneath a few degrees, only those rated for frost protection should be used to protect against early season cold. Row covers do not protect against underground pests.

Things You'll Need

  • Commercial row covers, one for each row in your garden (can be cut to fit)
  • Garden staples
  • Rubber mallet
  • Seeds
  • Water
  • Mulch


  • NRCS: Floating Row Covers
  • Eagle Heights Gardens: Floating Row Covers
  • Colorado State Extension: Using Floating Row Covers

Who Can Help

  • Oregon State University Extension: Gardening with Compost, Mulches and Row Covers
Keywords: garden pest control, birds control, row covers

About this Author

Bobbi Keffer attended Kent State University, studying education but soon found her true love to be in the garden. She prides herself on her frugal skills, re-using, recycling, and re-inventing her whimsical style in her home and garden.