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How can we plan for the ground we have underneath our current bird feeders such that bird seeds won't grow?

Situation

We currently have bird feeders setup in our lawn. These feeders attract: finches, Morning Doves, Cardinals, Blue Jays, and some squirrels. They are working great, but there is a large amount of feed that ends up on the ground. While most of it is eaten by the squirrels/doves/finches, it does end up causing plant life to grow from the seed that lands on the ground.

Goal

We'd like to be able to cover the ground in a way that would stop the growth of these plants from dropped seed. Preferably with a ground covering plant with a possible barrier put between the plants and the dirt.

Requirements

  1. Seeds used for bird feeding won't germinate on the ground because birds fling them out of the feeders.
  2. Ability to have plants that will thrive even when seeds and birds might be above/on them.
  3. Low maintenance.
  4. We like to keep it more natural and use little to no artificial barriers, unless needed.

Location

We are located in western Maryland, so we need something that can survive four seasons.

Comments

We are completely open to yielding some of our requirements (except #1) within reason. We've considered even putting a cement pad there, but that is not really keeping with a natural feel to our environment. We are not looking for someone to design it for us, but the questions we're asking is mostly, "How can we go about planing it? Are there some tips from experiences that would help here."

Picture

Four bird feeders attached to a pole with a dirt circle underneath

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    I've had the best luck with just lawn grass; anything that sprouts is mowed off and doesn't colonize the lawn.
    – Jurp
    Oct 23, 2022 at 22:10
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    Once established, we find pachysandra and creeping myrtle both do well at preventing other stuff from sprouting by shading it out - but since I haven't actually tried them under a bird feeder, comment, not answer.
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 23, 2022 at 23:44
  • Thank you both! I did try just using normal grass too but it seem to get overrun some. I’ve considered clover instead. As my yard has a ton of it already. I’ll look into pachysandra and creeping myrtle.
    – Avogadro
    Oct 24, 2022 at 0:03
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    Creeping myrtle can easily get invaded by grass and/or weeds. Oct 24, 2022 at 2:47

2 Answers 2

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Two ideas.

  1. Packed dirt, such as is used as flooring in Third World rustic houses.

  2. A barrier such as several layers of cardboard, topped with gravel.

But personally, I would just keep the area mown, as mentioned in a comment.

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I pay extra for a no weed bird seed mix that does not have millet. The composition appears to be hulled sunflower seeds, cracked corn and some other seeds. Worth paying extra for

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  • I agree that no hulled millet would be ideal. I definitely find that is the culprit for many of my weeds! However, it is also the most desired seed for many of these birds. I have considered trying to ween them off of it.
    – Avogadro
    Oct 24, 2022 at 13:10
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    In my experience it's one of the least desired seeds - that's why so much ends up uneaten on the ground. I assume it's cheap for the makers of seed mixes, so they put it in as filler...
    – Ecnerwal
    Oct 25, 2022 at 0:14

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