Many gardeners and farmers, both amateur and professional, spend a lot of time tending to their land and growing delicious crops, vegetables, herbs and flowers, so it can be disappointing to watch your hard work being enjoyed by local flocks of birds.
How can you put a stop to it? Unlike smaller pests and insects that can be taken care of with pesticides, it can be very tricky to keep birds away. If you’ve noticed that your flowers or crops in your organic veggie garden have holes in them, it may be time to build a scarecrow.
History of scarecrows
Scarecrows have been around for a long time — in fact, scarecrows date all the way back to Egyptian times when they used lifelike figures to ward off crop-eating crows.
Interestingly, scarecrows have historical meaning wherever they’ve been used. For example, scarecrows in Germany were designed to look like witches to encourage the coming of spring. In medieval Britain, young kids would dress as scarecrows and patrol fields to scare away birds who were known to eat crops.
If you’re not sure exactly what type of birds are flying around your garden, consider buying a bird field guide.
What you need to make a scarecrow at home
To make your scarecrow, you’re going to need a few different items. You may have many of these at home already. You’ll need some old clothes so you can dress your scarecrow once they’re finished. This can be a pair of old pants, a shirt and maybe a jacket and wide-brimmed hat. The hat is important because it makes it more difficult for the birds to interpret whether the figure is a real person or not.
How to build a scarecrow
Step 1: Make the scarecrow body
The first thing you’re going to do is build the body of the scarecrow. Take both the 4-foot and 7-foot poles and place them in your work space.
Next, using a hammer and nails, put the 4-foot pole half a meter down the 7-foot pole and hold it perpendicular to make a cross shape. Making sure that the 4-foot pole is in the middle of the 7-foot pole, take a nail and hammer it in. This will give you the frame of a large human. If you don’t have a hammer or nails, you can also use wood glue for this step.
Step 2: Put on your scarecrow’s shirt
Next, you’re going to put the shirt on. Some people have color preferences, but the most important thing is that the shirt is big enough to cover the upper section of the spine you’ve created using the wooden poles.
To put the shirt on, start by sliding the right sleeve through the left arm of the spine. Next, pull the right sleeve all the way in so it’s right in the middle of the spine. This should give you the space you need to put the left sleeve on the spine. Then, button the shirt up and tie it at the bottom with some wire. Your scarecrow should now have a V-shape of a body that looks, at a distance, like a large human.
Finally, tie the ends of both arms with wire so that the shirt, while still baggy, securely remains on the scarecrow, even if high winds hit.
Step 3: Prepare the scarecrow’s pants
Take some wire and tie it around the ends of the legs of the pants. Next, take straw and stuff it down inside the pant legs and right up to the waistline so the pants look full.
Finally, take some more wire and attach the pants to the bottom of the shirt using the wire you used to seal the bottom of the shirt in the previous step.
Step 4: Stuff the shirt
Now it’s time to stuff the shirt. You can use straw or hay, leaves, wood clippings or even old rags — the goal is to fill out the scarecrow by strategically stuffing the shirt so it looks as realistic as possible. Depending on your preference, you can make your scarecrow look like it has huge shoulders or even a pot belly.
Start with the sleeves. Once they’re full, begin adding your stuffing into the torso of the shirt and right up to the neck and shoulders.
Step 5: Make the scarecrow’s head
Take your burlap sack and stuff it with the same filling you used for the body. You can mash the filling around until you have the size and shape of a head within the sack.
Holding the slack end of the sack in one hand, use some twine to tie around the end of the “head” to keep the filling in place.
Finally, take the head and stuff it onto the top of the 7-foot pole on top of the shirt’s neckline. Some people opt to take a permanent marker and draw a large, scary face on the scarecrow to make it even more realistic.
Step 6: Plant your scarecrow
Choose a spot in your garden or field where you see the most activity from birds and where your scarecrow will be clearly visible. Drive the end of the 7-foot pole into the ground. Depending on how hard the ground is, you may need to dig a post hole about a foot down to make sure the scarecrow stands securely. As a final touch, add a hat to the top of your scarecrow’s head.
What you need to buy for making a scarecrow
These burlap sacks are perfect for building your scarecrow’s head. You can also add them inside the shirt of your scarecrow to give it more structure and durability.
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This hay is meant as animal feed but is soft and pliable, so you can easily mold it into the shape you want for your scarecrow’s head and body.
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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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