Real Gardens

Garden Flags and Bird Feeders: Failures and Fixes


img_4063-001I’ve complained before about the hassle of bird feeders in my tiny townhouse garden, where the shit-stained baffle isn’t doing the job of keeping squirrels away as these world-class gymnasts simply vault from anything nearby to the feeder. I then complained that hummingbird feeders are too much of a commitment for me.

Finally, I gave up and declared that my garden is NOT for the birds after a neighbor complained about the flocks attracted to the feeder hanging out and crapping from nearby branches over her car.

So this year, the old hook held up a cheap basket of petunias that looked amazing for months, with just a bit of trimming and only two feedings. Next season I may get more adventurous in my plant choices, but maybe not. I’m fine with cheap, common annuals in colors I like.


But I DID find a way to feed some birds with this simple thistle feeder hanging a few feet from my porch, for prime viewing of the goldfinches at the feeder and the mourning doves below it. It works because squirrels don’t like the stuff.

The feeder puts on a great show for my cats, too. Like me, they live on the porch half the year.


Look, it holds up to five finches at a time!

Next, the flags. All last winter I experimented with dyeing and sewing garden flags to hide an unsightly view, and you last saw the “Garden Flag Reveal!” in April when the flags looked like this:


But just two months later they had turned into this:


The fading was fast and furious, even though I’d used Procion dyes, the most colorfast ones I could find. Tie-dyed T-shirts are one thing; garden ornaments in full sun are another. And the wind didn’t help.

So in the goldfinch photos above you see flags that I sewed from cheap sheets, taupe-colored to match the shed. And this time, I secured them at the bottom so the wind doesn’t flip them over. The sheets may fade, too, or be brought down by a blizzard. By spring, I might be ready to abandon flags forever – if my coop will allow a bit of lattice instead. Sure would be easier, and better looking, too.

And this winter I’ll try my hand at dyeing things that won’t be hanging in the sun – scarves!

Posted by on December 23, 2016 at 7:14 am, in the category Real Gardens.
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11 responses to “Garden Flags and Bird Feeders: Failures and Fixes”

  1. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    I like your attitude and try to embrace it. Making lemonade and all that. So far, the coop rules have led to my learning to tie-dye! Susan

  2. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    I like your ideas! Susan

  3. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    Thanks, Anne. I strung a second clothes line along the bottom of the banner and simply attached the fabric to it with safety pins.

  4. Garden Rant Garden Rant says:

    My first choice is lattice and we have a task force exploring rule changes that might allow it. Susan

  5. Beth Urie says:

    Perfect before/after shots! Perhaps your creative spirit will continue to enjoy this conundrum … fun watching!

  6. Marcia says:

    Happy Holiday for those who take pride in having bird poop on the car:

  7. Paula Smeltzer says:

    Your goal was to block the site line next door. You already have poles in place, why not add a few more in the middle and use wire in an X pattern and grow scarlet runner beans or Malabar spinach, (maybe both intertwined). This will give you a living “Lattice” for the summer and by leaving the vines thru the winter the birds will have a perch and some protection from the winter weather.

  8. anne says:

    Your sheet flags look awesome with the autumn colors! How did you secure them at the bottom, did you weight them with something?

    My big birdfeeding revelation this winter was the sunflowers I was too lazy to tear out at the end of the season. I have a line of sight from a window, and it’s been fun to watch all kinds of birds wrestle the seeds from the old flowerheads. They don’t even see the cats watching them.

  9. […] Garden Flags and Bird Feeders: Failures and Fixes originally appeared on Garden Rant on December 23, 2016. […]

  10. The sparrows drove away all the other birds, so this is the winter of no bird feeders. I do try to plant natives they can dine on, though. Re squirrel-proofing feeders, you might try welding a slinky onto the pole. There are some hilarious videos online of squirrels attempting to get past them. Boing!

  11. Tibs says:

    When I saw your first photos of flags I thought you had washed a lot of tea towels and hung them out to dry. Was surprised that you would be allowed to hang laundry with all the regulations in your community. Sorry. Could you have folding moveable lattices?