Beginners’s Guide to Making a Scarecrow

Scarecrows have been used to protect crops for thousands of years.

A good scarecrow will keep the birds away from your garden and provide a nice decoration for your yard.

A poor scarecrow, on the other hand, might frighten neighbourhood children, or fall apart in bad weather and make a mess.

In this guide, we will teach you how to make a great scarecrow that will not only repel birds but also last a long time and look great.

Tools required

For the scarecrow itself, you can let your imagination run wild.

Here are some items that may come in handy:

  • Old clothes and shoes
  • An old hat
  • Pillow cases
  • Pantyhose or tights
  • Stuffing material such as newspaper or straw
  • String or twine
  • Chicken wire
  • Markers/texters to draw on a face

You’ll also need some kind of solid material to create the frame. Old pieces of timber or fence posts work well for this.

The following tools will be beneficial. Note that you can make do with just a section of these.

  • Hammer and nails
  • Scissors
  • Mallet
  • Drill and screws
  • Staple gun
  • Step ladder
  • Protective gear

Step 1: Choose a location

scarecrow 1 | Gardening

A key thing to consider when placing a scarecrow is what it’s supposed to scare and therefore where it is best located.

You need to think of the overall goal of having a scarecrow. For most people, it’s to protect fruit or vegetables from birds.

For the best results, a scarecrow should be placed in the middle of a field, or area where you are trying to scare off birds.

Placing a scarecrow in an ideal location is important. It should be far from trees and other tall objects that might make it difficult for birds to see.

It should also not be placed in an area that is prone to high winds or bad weather, as this can cause the scarecrow to fall over or become damaged.

If possible, try placing it somewhere where neighbours will not complain about its presence.

In order to choose a place for a scarecrow, consider the following:

  • Location
  • Weather
  • Neighbours

Step 2: Pick a size

Choose the size of the scarecrow by considering how tall the crop or surrounding grass is and how big the scarecrow needs to be in order to scare pests away.

In most cases, the best size for a scarecrow will be similar to an adult human.

Not only does this help replicate a human that may otherwise be scaring off the birds, but it is the easiest option in terms of finding clothes to use for its construction.

Step 3: Gather your materials

scarecrow 2 | Gardening

When you are choosing materials to use for a scarecrow, the key things to consider are:

  • How much it will cost.
  • How easy it is to obtain the materials
  • How long it will last
  • How visible it is

The choice of material for your scarecrow will depend on what is available to you and how much time you want to spend making it. This guide should be useful for anyone considering how to make a scarecrow out of paper, wood, or fabric.

Paper: Making a scarecrow from paper is probably the most difficult option. It will also produce the lightest scarecrow which has the advantage that it may not require as much ballast to keep it steady in breezy conditions. Note that paper pulp is extremely flammable so it may not be advisable to use this method if you live somewhere with a high fire risk.

Wood: A wooden scarecrow should last for several seasons. Using treated wood will reduce the risk of rot, but may have toxic effects on birds and other wildlife that come into contact with it.

Fabric: Cloth or felt are probably the easiest materials to work with when making a scarecrow. These materials are relatively light which makes them easy to handle and carry, but they may not last as long as a heavier material such as wood or stone.

Step 4: Add stuffing to the body

Start by stuffing pantyhose or tights with your filling of choice. Do this for legs and arms.

The pantyhose can be stuffed with paper or straw or even other lightweight old clothes or fabric.

Insert the stuffed legs and arms into the pants and shirt. Tie up the end of the arms and legs to keep the stuffing in place. Cut a small hole in the crotch of the pants for the timber frame.

Step 5: Insert wood frame

Insert a long piece of timber into the crotch hole, then at the height of the arms, attach a perpendicular piece of timber to form the arms.

Fasten with screws as it is important this part of your scarecrow is sturdy.

Add more padding to the body.

Step 6: Create the head

The head can be made from an old white t-shirt or pillowcase.

Fill it with stuffing and tie it off at the bottom.

Step 7: Add the boots and hat

Use glue of a staplegun to add a hat to your scarecrow (big straw hats work best).

Find some old shoes or boots to attach to the bottom of the legs.

Gloves are a great addition, too. Find some old gardening gloves and attach them to the end of the arms.

Step 8: Add hair, eyes, and other finishing details

Use paint or markers to add the finishing touches, including eyes, nose and mouth.

Step 9: Erect your scarecrow

Find a suitable spot for your scarecrow and use a mallet to hammer him or her into the ground.

Keep in mind that the scarecrow will need to stand up to the weather so the more sturdy, the better.

Scarecrow making tips

Tips for making a scarecrow:

1. Use straw or hay to fill the body, not fabric or paper that will decompose.

2. Stuff the pant legs with hay or straw, use an old garden hose, a broom handle or other long item as the arms.

3. Use old boots or shoes for the feet, if you don’t have boots on hand you can use plastic bottles.

4. The head can be made of wood or plastic, but you should paint the face on rather than using fabric that will decompose in the weather.

5. The hat is optional, but if you choose to add one make sure it is sturdy and won’t blow away in the wind.

6. Make sure to give your scarecrow a name!

Photo of author

Steve Kropp

Based in Melbourne, Steve's passion is vegetable gardening, and he’s been writing about it for almost 5 years. He also loves all things DIY and is always looking for a new project. When not working on his own garden projects or blogging, Steve enjoys spending time with his family, cooking meals with produce harvested from his garden, and coaching his son’s footy team.


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