My garden is my pride and joy. I love looking out at it while sipping a cup of coffee on the back deck, admiring all the hard work I’ve put into it and the bounty that it continues to produce.
However, there is nothing more frustrating than watching invaders like birds pecking and digging up the seeds that I have just planted.
One of the best ways to discourage birds and other invaders from tearing up your garden is to build a scarecrow. There are hundreds of different styles, methods, and designs you can incorporate – and of course, scarecrows make cool-looking lawn ornaments in the fall, too!
Consider learning how to make a scarecrow 35 ways – you’ll have a ton of fun doing it and you’ll be left with a finished project that is both functional and usable.
How Do Scarecrows Work?
Scarecrows are quite simple in theory and design. They are decoys or mannequins, usually in the shape of a human, that are placed in fields or gardens to discourage birds and other animals from feeding on seed and growing crops.
They are used all over the world and are incredibly effective at keeping critters away, especially when they’re designed and dressed like humans.
Scarecrows do have their limitations, of course. They aren’t as common in larger fields, like massive plots of corn or wheat. That’s because they can be difficult to work around with machinery and they have varying success in such a large setting.
Some birds simply don’t mind human presence and will return to the garden regardless of the presence of a scarecrow (that’s where one of the other strategies I’ll tell you about below might work best).
Almost all birds will get used to the presence of a scarecrow after a while, so you may find it helpful to add things like tin pans that will flash in the sunlight or bang against each other in the wind – the constant, unpredictable movement and action will keep birds away.
What Kind of Animals Do Scarecrows Work Best On?
You can use scarecrows to scare off any kind of bird, but some gardeners report that they work best with certain species of birds like crows and geese. They don’t do much to ward off larger animals, like deer, who figured out the gimmick quite quickly!
How to Make a Scarecrow 35 Ways
1. Classic Scarecrow Design: My Way
This method is one of the easiest scarecrow design methods. You’ll need the following supplies:
- 2 long narrow boards, both two to four inches wide (one should be 5 feet long and the other should be 7 feet long)
- A dozen or so nails
- A pair of pants and a long-sleeved shirt
- A 2×2 ft piece of burlap
- Several small pieces of felt
- An old hat
To start, gather up all the old clothes. You can dress your scarecrow however you’d like, but of course, you’ll want to use clothes that you don’t mind wasting. You probably won’t be getting them back!
Then, select the location in the garden where you’d like to erect your scarecrow. Build the frame by nailing the shorter board horizontally about three-quarters of the way to the top of the larger board. Cut a hole in the seat of the pants, then slide the pair of pants up and over the bottom of the long board.
Next, you’ll pull the jeans so that the bottoms are 8-10 inches from the bottom of the board. Nail the back of the jeans to the board to hold them there. Stuff the legs with straw.
Put the shirt over the horizontal board (I’ve found that a button-down shirt works better for this than a slip-on). Raise your scarecrow into an upright position, then hammer the board several inches into the ground. Tuck the shirt into the jeans, stuff with straw, and make sure the shirt is nailed into the back of the board.
Next, roll a bunch of straw into the piece of burlap. Use twine to secure the edges of the burlap so that it forms a “pocket.” Then, you will use another piece of twine to secure the ball to the top of the scarecrow board. This will serve as the head of the scarecrow.
You can cut the pieces of felt to form the eyes, nose, and mouth of the scarecrow. Then just glue those to his face. As one last finishing touch, put a hat on top of the scarecrow’s head and secure it with twine or glue.
You can even add a pair of boots, if you’d like!
2. Pumpkin Head Scarecrow
I absolutely love the idea of using a pumpkin for the head of a scarecrow. It’s fun and festive without being too creepy – as many scarecrows are!
You can get ideas on how to build it here.
3. Spooky Scarecrow
I don’t love being scared, but if spooky Halloween decorations are your thing, you may want to build this spooky scarecrow for your lawn.
Here is the tutorial.
4. Slouching Scarecrow
Scarecrows usually stand upright, but if you’d like yours to be relaxed, you can follow this tutorial to make one for your porch.
5. Scarecrows in Love
Want to make a scarecrow pair? Follow these tips!
6. Family of Scarecrows
This fun tutorial will teach you how to make an entire family of scarecrows. Cluster them together for a hospitable feel or spread them out all over your garden and lawn!
7. Cheerful Scarecrow
This bright and sunny scarecrow is a great way to spruce up your porch or garden. You can find tips on how to make it here.
8. Painted Scarecrow
You’ll only get a scarecrow head with this method, but it’s a cute craft that will look great on your porch. Here is the guide.
9. Tomato Cage Scarecrow
Make the most of those tomato cages you have lying around to build this fun scarecrow. You’ll be able to keep your country decor traditional – and functional, too.
Here are the instructions.
10. Clay Pot Scarecrow
You can even use old clay pots or planters to make scarecrows! They can be as large or as small, as fancy or as sedate as you’d like. Here are the instructions.
11. Scarecrow Wreath
This scarecrow wreath is far from traditional, but you’ll love how it looks on your porch!
12. Tin Can Scarecrow
This is a fun way to repurpose some old tin cans – and to create an attractive, functional scarecrow for your home and garden.
Find the full list of instructions here.
13. Scarecrow Paper Bag
Have some extra paper bags lying around? This craft is one that you can easily do with the kids – plus, it can serve double duty as a puppet, too.
Here are some tips on how to make it.
14. American Gothic Pumpkin Scarecrows
I adore this American Gothic-esque display of pumpkin-headed scarecrows – and you can easily build it yourself at home! Just use hats, dresses, overall, and wooden tomato stakes, then prop Ma and Pa up on your front porch.
Here’s a tutorial.
15. Mooning Scarecrow
This scarecrow idea is absolutely hilarious! You’ll have everybody on your block in tears when you create this funny project. Here’s how to do it.
These owls are absolutely adorable and easy to make. You can use them to scare away smaller critters in the garden or just use them as decorations in your home or on your porch.
Here are some tips on how to make them.
17. Tiny Scarecrow Garden Buddies
These miniature scarecrows are easy to make, and can be popped into your garden easily for some whimsical bird scaring!
Find the detailed instructions here.
18. Wolfman Scarecrow
This is another scary scarecrow you can make – one that’s perfect for your Halloween decor. Here is the guide you can use to make your own.
19. PVC Pipe Scarecrow
Don’t have any boards lying around but have tons of PVC pipe? PVC pipe is a great choice when it comes to making scarecrows because it’s sturdy and functional.
Here are tips on how to make a scarecrow out of PVC.
20. Rake and Leaf Scarecrow
These scarecrows can be made with rakes you already have lying around! They are absolutely adorable and come together in just a few minutes.
View the instructions here.
The outfit of the scarecrow is really what pulls it all together. Find the instructions here.
22. Moving and Chiming Scarecrow
I love how this scarecrow is cute and also functional – it moves and makes noise so it will keep all kinds of birds away.
View the instructions here.
23. Fabric Banner Scarecrow
This tutorial is perfect for the artistic type. View the instructions here.
24. Coffee Can Scarecrow
I feel like I always have about a million coffee cans lying around – but this tutorial puts them to good use! You can easily make a coffee can scarecrow that will use up all of your old materials and create a lovely craft at the same time.
Here are the steps.
25. Scarecrow Candles
Again, this is an idea that’s more decorative than functional – but it’s still a super cute idea you’ve got to try!
Here are the steps.
26. Scarecrow With Pillowcase
Have some old pillowcases lying around? Use them to make a few scarecrows! This guide is simple and easy to follow.
27. Jack o Lantern Scarecrow
This jack-o-lantern scarecrow is perfect for fall. Plus, you can stuff it with fallen leaves!
Here is a tutorial.
28. Popsicle Stick Scarecrow
If you have little kids, this popsicle stick scarecrow is a craft project that they’re sure to love.
Here are all the steps you need to take.
29. Burlap and Balloon Scarecrow
This is a great scarecrow for indoor use, where you won’t have to worry about the balloons of your scarecrow popping. You can give your scarecrow some serious heft by giving this idea from Thrifty Northwest Mom a try.
30. Garden Harvester Scarecrow
If you want to make a truly lifelike scarecrow, consider this option by Our Fairfield Home and Garden. It looks just like a woman working in her garden!
Here are the steps on how to make it.
This scarecrow is another teeny tiny one that is fun for kids to make – and will fit in nicely into your garden. Here are the instructions.
32. Decorative Scarecrow
Another scarecrow design to decorate your garden – yes please! Follow the instructions here.
33. Dancing Scarecrow
This dancing scarecrow is festive and cheery – a far cry from some of the scarier scarecrow ideas I’ve listed!
Here are some tips on how to make it.
34. Seated Scarecrow
Here’s another fun seated scarecrow tutorial for you to follow.
35. Fabric Strip Scarecrow
If you’re a crafter who always has a ton of extra fabric scraps lying around, consider making this fabric strip scarecrow by The Budget Decorator.
Not only is it adorable and thrifty, but the scraps will blow in the wind and keep critters out of the garden. Here are the full steps to take.
When All Else Fails…
If bird-scaring is your main priority and the scarecrow ideas above don’t work for you, don’t fret. You can always try alternatives like sonic devices, wind chimes, or planting alternative food sources.
Even if you aren’t interested in using a scarecrow to keep birds out of your garden (or if the birds don’t seem to mind the new addition!), you can still make them just for fun, or as a homeschooling activity.
These scarecrow crafts are not only fun to make, but they’ll help your garden look lovely and festive for the autumn season.
Rebekah is a high-school English teacher n New York, where she lives on a 22 acre homestead. She raises and grows chickens, bees, and veggies such as zucchini (among other things).