School of Life Sciences, JMS Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton

©2018 by Buzz Club. Logo created by Ross Napier

Strawberries rock!

This project is OPEN for 2020

Strawberries are a very popular plant, with delicious fruit, a long cropping season and strong association with lazy summer days.  Unfortunately we are not the only ones with a taste for strawberries, and birds can cause a lot of damage to a crop as they feed.

A few projects from Sussex University in previous years have used strawberries.  Feedback from Buzzing Balconies participants suggested that bird damage can be such a problem for some gardens to put them off growing strawberries altogether!


Birds are fantastic garden visitors and we don't want to do anything that might hurt them, so we need safe deterrants against avian avarice.

Netting plants is a common anti-bird strategy (but can be expensive and tricky to put up), but some of our volunteers have also suggested a crafty home remedy using painted stones to trick birds.  Birds have excellent colour vision and learn quickly, so it might be possible to train them to leave your strawberries alone.

Does it work?  Join in with the Buzz Club to find out!

Name:            Strawberries rock!

Year(s):           2019

Focus?           Pest control

Status?          Open

Project lead contact:

Linda Birkin, and Janine Griffiths-Lee

Project summary

We love birds, but birds love strawberries. Can we keep them away from our plants with a little safe, crafty trickery?

Let us know if you are interested in Strawberries Rock! 🍓

Your strawberry rocks can be as realistic as you like, or just plain red / green!  Rocks here painted by Summerwood after school group.

Taking part in the project

To be a part of 'Strawberries rock!' you will need:

  • At least one strawberry plant *.

  • Enough strawberry-sized rocks to have at least
    three per plant.

  • Acrylic paint (either red or green); easily be found in
    large supermarkets, online or in craft shops.

  • Small paint brushes (unless you use spray paint).

  • Craft varnish / clear nail varnish

* This can be an existing plant or a new plant.


You can use more than one strawberry plant if you are able to but you need to number them to keep track! 

Participants will be split randomly into two groups.  One group will paint their stones red, and place them around their plant(s).  One group will paint their stones green and place them around their plant (this is the 'control group', and it is very important to have this to compare to, or we can't work out if the red stones work or not!)

We would then like you to count the strawberries on your plants (ripe and unripe) once a week, and record the numbers on your data sheet.  Plus, record if you pick any!

That's it!  The project is open now, and you can start when you want. The painted stones must be in place before the plants start to make fruit.

Red strawberries from last year, planted at the Lymington & Pennington allotments (2019).