How to Build A Scarecrow for Your Garden

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Some gardeners would argue that today's high-tech bird-scaring devices offer little advantage over the traditional scarecrow. After all, scarecrows have been watching over crops for more than two-thousand years. And while their effectiveness at deterring hungry birds may be open for debate, there is no denying that scarecrows do add a certain whimsy to the garden. Here are some simple directions on how to construct one of your own.


Building Your Scarecrow

Materials List:

  • one 10-foot long 1 x 4 board and a saw. This will make 1 scarecrow frame 6 feet tall with an arm span of 4 feet. The final height of your scarecrow (from head to ground) will depend on how deep you dig the hole for your post. If you want a taller scarecrow you'll need a longer board.

  • handful of 1 1/4 inch galvanized nails and a hammer

  • tape measure and pencil

  • scarecrow head: a large pail, a plastic milk jug or paint can, a pumpkin, a pillowcase or burlap sack stuffed with straw or newspaper.

  • scarecrow clothing: shirt, pants, skirt, boots, hat, gloves, vest, jacket, scarf, etc.

  • body stuffing: hay, straw, old towels or bed sheets, shredded packing paper or shredded leaves.

  • twine, nylon string, or small gauge wire and scissors
  • box of large safety pins

  • post-hole digger or pointed shovel

  • cornstalks and hay bales (optional for fall decoration)

Construct the frame: Using a saw, cut your 10 foot board into two sections, one 4 feet long (for the arms) and the other 6 feet long (for the main post). Measure 2 feet in from one end of the main post and mark it with a pencil. Center the shorter board across this mark and nail it to the main post to form a cross. This will be the frame of your scarecrow.

Tip: Depending on the arm span, you may find it easier to dress the upper body of your scarecrow (e.g. slip the cross piece through the shirtsleeves) before assembling the frame.

Attach the head: Paint or sew on desired facial features before attaching your scarecrow's head to the post. A bucket or pail can be hung over the top of the frame and secured to the post using wire or hooks. Heads made from stuffed pillowcases, nylon stockings, or burlap sacks should be eased over the top of the post and closed off at the bottom by wrapping wire or string around the main post.


Get Them Dressed

Shirts: Put on the scarecrow's shirt (vest, jacket, dress, overalls, etc.) using the wood on each side of the main post as arms. Button the shirt and tie the cuffs and waist closed using string or wire wrapped around the frame. Pack the shirt full with as much stuffing material as possible to form the scarecrow's upper body.

Pants: To put pants on your scarecrow, slip the main post through one leg, while the other hangs free. Use large safety pins to attach the pants to the shirt, or secure them with a belt after stuffing. Tie the pants off at the ankles with string and fill them with stuffing, and tuck the shirt-tail into the pants to prevent the stuffing from falling out.

Skirts: If a skirt is a part of your scarecrow's wardrobe, simply slip it on over the bottom of the post. Secure the top of the skirt to the post with string or safety pins and let the bottom hang freely. If you want to give your gal some hips, slip a hoop fashioned from a wire hanger under her skirt.


Accessorize: Adding some finishing touches to your scarecrow will really bring out its unique personality. Finish off the arms and legs with gloves and an old pair of boots or shoes. Top off the head with a gaudy hat or a wig made from an old mop. Add glasses, aprons, suspenders, jewelry, bandanas, and scarves-whatever you can find and spare. Have fun with it!

Set it into the ground: (Get a helper for this.) Use a post-hole digger or shovel to dig a hole that is approximately12-18 inches deep to support the post. Set the post in the hole, and have your helper hold the pole steady while you back-fill the hole. Tamp the soil as you fill the hole to create firm support for the post.

Building a scarecrow.

About The Author: Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at

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