Birdhouse DIY From Gourds How To

You guys, this birdhouse DIY project has been a long time in the making!

It started when I asked our good friend who is a landscaper and pro-gardener if he’d grow some gourds for me. I wanted to dry a few to have in my shop for the fall.

That idea also turned into this birdhouse DIY. I’m covering the entire how-to here, including growing and drying your own gourds. It’s a great project to get you into the spring spirit!

The only basic tools you’ll need for this is a drill and a round drill bit.

If you don’t want to grow your own, you can find dried gourds for sale in the fall easily enough. I’m also linking to some available online at the bottom of this post.

If you are going that route, you can skip down this blog post to “How to clean gourds” for detailed instructions on transforming them into birdhouses.

how to grow birdhouse gourds

So my friend planted a few gourd seeds in his garden and we were all shocked when they turned into this!

Growing gourds on the vine

He and his wife were calling it the Jumanji Vine because it grew so big! It was cool to see (really, isn’t it beautiful?) but it did invade the rest of his garden.

To grow gourds, you need a strong trellis. If they grow along the ground they are more prevalent to rot. And because the gourds are heavy, they need strong support.

giant vine of gourds growing

Look how cute they are when they start growing and taking shape.

gourd growing on the vine

when to pick gourds

He harvested the gourds at the end of the season when the plant died back. The vine will start to dry out and turn brown. These gourds took several months to grow to maturity.

And he got an abundance!

After picking the gourds, you have to let them dry (more on that below) if you’re planning to use them for decoration. The process all takes a long time so we weren’t able to use any last Fall.

But earlier this year they were ready and my friend suggested turning some of them into birdhouses.

how to dry gourds for a birdhouse DIY

To dry out your gourds, let them sit in a well-ventilated area. You’ll know they’re ready when they are light to pick up and you can hear the seeds rattling inside.

However, my friend noticed that although they were very well-ventilated, some of them were beginning to rot, which will happen to some.

To help prevent more of that, he drilled a small hole in the bottom of each to allow airflow inside. It helped, so he drilled a couple more holes into the bottom of each. He says if he were to do this again, he would drill the holes in the bottom from the start.

Once the gourds are dried, it’s time to prep them for your birdhouse.

drilling then entrance hole

entrance hole drilled into birdhouse gourds

As mentioned, we drilled three holes into the base of the birdhouse for airflow.

Additionally, if you are planning to make your gourds into birdhouses, this helps rainwater drain out. If the birds have a nest inside it will help keep them safe.

To create the entrance hole on the front, my friend used a hole saw. You can use a different sized drill bit depending on the size of your gourds. You can also make them larger if you want to attract larger birds.

It’s easy to customize to the type of bird you’d like to attract.

You could also turn your gourd into a bird feeder by making two larger openings, one on the front and one on the back of the birdhouse (similar to this), and fill it with birdseed.

how to clean gourds

how to dry and clean gourds

At this point, my friend handed the gourds off to me to prep the rest. Although I like the natural look of these as they were, I did need to clean and sand them.

The best way to clean them is to use a mix of bleach and water.

You absolutely want to do this outside and take all the safety precautions. Have safety glasses, gloves, and a mask ready.

I filled two buckets with water and added about a cup of bleach to each.

how to clean gourds

The gourds will float even after you submerge them under the water. You will get splashback when pushing them under – safety glasses are a must.

To keep them under I used a towel dipped in the bleach mixture and placed that over the gourd. I let each gourd sit in the solution for about 30 minutes.

When I removed them from the solution, while they were still wet, I sanded them with a steel wool sponge. The outer skin comes off very easily at this point. But it is very messy.

cleaning gourds

After the skin was all sanded off, I left them to dry for a day.

sanding the gourd

drying out gourds

When the gourd dries, it will lighten considerably. In the photo above the one on the left is still wet and the one on the right is dry.

When the gourd was dry, I used sandpaper to gently sand the entire thing. Including the rough edges around the opening.

Each one will come out differently depending on the color variations and black spots – which some will inevitably have.

birdhouse DIY from gourds

At this point, you can opt to leave them natural or paint them and add some decorations. I did a mix of both because I like both looks.

Additionally, if your gourd is too spotted and it doesn’t have a pretty natural look, painting will cover that up.

DIY birdhouse painting ideas

For my birdhouse DIY, I experimented with a few different painting and decorating ideas.

First, I painted several of them green. I used regular acrylic paint because I planned to seal them later for outdoor use.

painted birdhouse diy gourds

I used a deep shade of green paint on a few of these. Before painting, I wrapped foil around the stems to keep them natural. It took 2-3 coats of paint to get full coverage on the gourds.

I wanted a floral design on my gourds but I am not an artist so I had a few ideas to get the look easily.

I bought a few rub-on transfers featuring hydrangeas and vines to try out.

rub on flower transfers

These are so easy to use. You literally just press them onto the birdhouse and rub them with a stick (which was included with these) until it’s transferred fully to the birdhouse.

gourd birdhouse decorating ideas

I tried the transfers on both natural and painted gourds.

painted birdhouse ideas

My second idea was to create a sunflower around the opening. For this one, I printed out sunflower petals onto cardstock to use as a stencil.

sunflower petal stencils

Trace each petal around the opening with a pencil. Next, use yellow paint to fill it in.

birdhouse diy painting ideas

It will take two or three coats of yellow to get good coverage over the green. Once I had that done, I went back and mixed the yellow paint with a bit of brown paint and went over them again to get more variation in the petals.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. Paint is risk-free crafting, you can always paint over it.

birdhouse diy painting ideas

And here’s one more that I painted a door and little window boxes on each side. I used brown paint to resemble wood. I added more transfer flowers to this one to make it look like a fairy cottage.

gourd birdhouse diy cottage

DIY hanger for gourd birdhouses

To create a hanger for my birdhouses, I used metal floral wire. I used a large piece to wrap it around each stem several times. Pull it snug to get it tight.

how to attach a hanger to a gourd birdhouse

To be sure this would hold securely, I also added several drops of Krazy glue around the wire. I didn’t want to chance it falling out of a tree filled with baby birds.

I considered wood glue, but that doesn’t come in clear. Hot glue wouldn’t work outside because it would melt in the heat.

Alternatively, you could drill two holes through the top of the gourd and string a hanger through it that way. Eye hooks could also potentially work on these.

Sealing simple birdhouse diy gourds

Finding a sealer that checked all the boxes I wanted proved to be the most difficult. I was looking for something that would be strong enough for outdoors, have a matte finish, be non-toxic, and be available in a spray.

When I couldn’t find something that hit all four of those, I opted for this spray sealer. It had everything except the non-toxic part. And it was priced very well, under $10/can.

There were far more options available with a gloss finish but that was one point I wasn’t willing to compromise on. Especially considering I wanted some of the unpainted gourds to retain their natural finish.

It does smell terrible, so this needs to be sprayed outside while wearing all the protective gear. Once the coating dries, the smell dissipates.

outdoor spray sealant matte finish

Aren’t these cool?


Hang it in a safe place outside and watch to see what types of birds show up! You can also add a few dabs of peanut butter inside to help attract them.

Decorating and hanging the birdhouses is a great activity to get the kids involved in too. Outdoor projects are always harder to come up with in winter, but this one will help get them out into nature to birdwatch!

I love a pretty wooden birdhouse too but these have that natural element that adds something extra. I hope our feathered friends enjoy their new home!

This fun project was a great way to pass a dreary winter afternoon! I’m looking forward to making more. In the meantime, I’ll be bringing these in to sell at the shop.

I hope you found some ideas to make your own simple DIY birdhouse. Let us know in the comments!

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