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How to Secure a Bird Bath (So it Doesn’t Tip Over)

After bird feeders, bird baths are a popular backyard addition for attracting birds. A common consideration when getting a bird bath is making sure it has solid footing and won’t tip over, so we’ll cover how to secure a bird bath in this article.

To keep a bird bath secure and in place make sure it’s on level ground by digging a foundation before installing it, fill the foundation with sand or gravel, and place it level over the foundation or on a flagstone to evenly distribute weight.

Before securing your bird bath and stabilizing it you’ll also want to make sure it’s set up in the best place possible. Installing your bird bath somewhere that is safe and attractive to birds is just as important as keeping it upright.

How to secure a bird bath so it doesn’t tip over

Keeping your bird bath upright is important to keep the birds safe, but also to avoid accidentally breaking it! Once it’s in place, you want it to stay there, so start by installing it correctly. These tips will work for installing a pedestal bird bath.

If you have ever placed a bath or other solid garden ornament on soil you may have noticed one side tends to sink into the ground. Placing the bath on material such as soil that compacts easily will result in it leaning to one side. The key is ensuring your pedestal is level so the basin sits evenly. To avoid the lean, first set down a foundation layer.

To build a stable foundation for the bird bath, clear all vegetation from the area where you want it to sit. Dig a hole wider than the base of the pedestal.  The depth of the hole needed will vary. Two to three inches may be fine for a lighter bath while four or more inches is ideal for a heavy concrete bath.  

Once the foundation is dug, you have two choices, depending on the type of pedestal your bird bath has:

  • You can fit the pedestal inside this hole and surround it with sand or gravel to about 1 inch lower than the ground line. Fill it the rest of the way with soil until it is level with the ground. This may be a more secure choice for lighter plastic baths or baths with a small footprint. 
  • To install above ground, fill the hole in with sand or small gravel. Ensure the area you set up in is level. If it’s not, fill in dips with gravel and place a paving stone to set the bird bath on.

Many popular baths are made from heavy materials, which take extra care. For example, you may be wondering how to level a concrete bird bath. These baths can sink into the soil unevenly over time more quickly than lighter materials, but they last longer. Additionally, bricks or flagstones can become uneven over time from freezing/thawing and heavy rains. 

To set these straight place concrete blocks level in the hole you dig for the foundation, then fill in gaps with gravel or sand. Ensure the top of these blocks are below ground level. Place your flag stones on top of this foundation and place the bird bath pedestal before installing the basin.

After the the bird bath has been installed you might find the ground shifted a little. To get things back in place, remove the bird bath again and lay out sand or gravel until it’s sitting right.

If you want to go a step further and ensure no shifting of the ground at all – you can fill the hole with a quick drying concrete, just try to level off the top as much as you can before it dries. Then add a thin layer of gravel or soil if you need to further level the surface.

Try these tips to further stabilize your bird bath:

  • If there is a hole through the center of the pedestal of the bird bath, a metal rebar can be anchored in the foundation pit you set up and the bird bath can be fitted over this. This is one of the best solutions if you have issues with animals pushing your bath over. 
  • You can also group stones around the bath for aesthetic appeal and added weight, maintaining the pedestal at level.
  • Check whether the bird bath is truly laying flat by taking a look at the water levels on all sides of the bowl. These should be evenly distributed when checking the depth of the water.

What can I put in a bird bath to anchor it?

Once your bath is placed on solid ground, you may ask how to keep the bird bath from tipping over. Cats and other animals sometimes jump on the basin, causing it to separate from the base or break. To help keep everything in place, you can fill the basin with stones to evenly distribute weight.

Alternatively, fill hollow pedestals with sand to stabilize the bird bath. This material is especially useful because it closely packs empty areas and is able to shift as it moves.

Avoid placing large, heavier weights like bricks in the basin. These will make it difficult for birds to bathe themselves and the uneven weight may damage your basin over time.

Lastly, consider if you want the basin to be removable when you purchase the bath. Do you want to be able to take it off for cleaning or filling? If you don’t intend to remove the basin of the bath, you may want to purchase a bath where the basin does not separate, or at least has a “snap and lock” mechanism to further keep it secure on the pedestal.

Why do you put stones in a bird bath?

Bird baths are a beautiful garden feature, but they often have smoothed sides. Some designs are also too deep in the center or other areas for birds to comfortably use them. A solution is to place stones in the bottom of the bowl.

The stones allow birds something to grip onto if they have trouble getting a footing on bowls that are very smooth. Stones can also help to make the water level more shallow. Many backyard birds, especially small ones, fear going into water that is too deep and prefer water that is “wading” level.

How much water do you put in a bird bath?

Water that is too deep will not be usable by birds. Unlike water fowl, song birds cannot float on the water’s surface, so ensuring it is a comfortable depth is very important.

Most bird baths get deeper in the middle, so it’s okay to have water filled between half an inch and an inch at the rim of the bird bath and up to two inches at the deepest point. Remember to change the water every other day or so. Letting it sit will provide an environment for harmful bacteria and possible algae, which is not healthy for birds to sit in.

Remember that bird baths that are deeper than 3 inches are difficult for birds to use. Filling them up with water all the way will also put song birds at risk of drowning. To avoid this, keep water to no deeper than a couple of inches and add stones as described above.

Another thing to keep in mind is how shallow the bath is. Too little water will not attract birds. Part of this is the visual appeal: it’s easier for birds to identify good water sources when they ripple or move. The surface of very low water will not create this attractive effect.

Best place to put a bird bath

When picking a place for your bird bath, you will need to find somewhere that meets a few specifications. This will ensure your bird bath is in a safe location that will also attract birds:

  • Set up on level ground.
  • Keep the bath at least 6 to 10 feet from bushes or shrubs. Birds are smart, so they will avoid a bird bath if there are possible havens for predator animals like cats nearby. They don’t want to be surprised when they are wet and vulnerable to attack.
  • Place your bird bath near a tree for shade and a little cover for security.
  • Make sure the bird bath can be seen by the birds – keep it within their field of vision. From their point of view you want it visible from above when they fly over and from any areas they are active in your yard such as feeders.
  • Don’t place it too close to bird feeders. This is to prevent seeds from falling in the bird bath, but it also has to do with how birds interact with their environment. As animals that defend their territory they’re also wary of staying out of other birds’ areas. So if a bird is using the bird feeder, it may decide to defend the bath from other birds. Likewise, some birds may be more wary of using the bath if they perceive it to be within the territory of the feeder birds.

Finally, don’t forget to put a bird bath somewhere that is easy for YOU to see. The biggest appeal of these installations is the birdwatching! So make sure it’s within view from a window or patio. You will also be able to notice quickly if it is dirty or needs refilling. 

bird sipping water

Should a bird bath be in the sun or shade?

Ideally a bird bath should be placed in partial or full shade. This keeps water cooler for birds. Sunlight and heat also promote mold and algae, which you do not want growing in your bird bath!

Avoid using shrubbery as shade because this is where predators may hide. Even cats loose in the garden can cause havoc for birds with enough cover. Ensure your source of shade is close enough for birds to retreat to, but not ideal cover for these little hunters.

No matter where you place it, work at keeping the basin clean and refresh the water regularly. Having readily available water is very important for birds and following these tips will lead you to a stable bird bath that birds will be happy to use. After putting down the foundation layer and stabilizing the bird bath, it should stay upright all year long.