Building a scarecrow can be a fun project to take on with kids, or simply be a way to inject a little personality into your plot. The truth of the matter is that scarecrows are not always really all that successful for scaring crows – or any other birds.
If you do have a big problem with birds eating seeds, berries or fruits or destroying plants in your garden, then using physical barriers like a fruit cage or polytunnel is often best. These are really far better options than a scarecrow. They will obviously protect your plants far more effectively over time, and can also offer a range of other benefits.
But a scarecrow can sometimes work for a while, and in any case, you can have a laugh building one. Building a scarecrow can be a family project, or just a way for you to give your creativity free reign. To give you some ideas and help you work out how to create a scarecrow that might actually work, here are our top scarecrow building ideas and tips:
Use Natural and/or Reclaimed Materials
Firstly and most importantly, the entire idea with a scarecrow is to use natural and/or reclaimed materials that you already have lying around. You do not need to head out to buy anything to make a scarecrow. It is very likely that you already have a wealth of options to create your garden feature.
Your first job then, should be to look around your home and garden, to see which materials you have which could be useful. Finding the different materials you need to make your scarecrow can be a game – send your kids on a scavenger hunt to find all the parts for a scarecrow’s body and head. Or simply collate some materials and get creative – finding ways to use whatever you have.
Natural Materials You Could Use For Scarecrow Building
No matter how large or small your garden may be, it is likely that it contains far more natural resources than you might think. Use your imagination and you will find ways to use a huge range of natural items from your garden when scarecrow building. Some useful scarecrow building materials that you might be able to source in your garden include:
Fallen or pruned branches and sticks.
Bendy whips of willow or other wood. (As arms, or woven into wattle or wicker structures)
Straw/ bracken/ dried grass clippings/ wood chips/ soil etc.. (To fill other elements and make scarecrow bodies and heads.)
Rocks or stones (to weigh down elements and stop things blowing away).
Nettles or other plants for fibres (to make twine to tie things together).
Feathers, seeds, cones and other smaller natural items – to decorate your scarecrow and give it some personality.
Pumpkins, squash, gourds or other produce you have grown. (As heads for your scarecrow.)
Long grasses/ other foliage (scarecrow ‘hair’)
These are just some of the many options to consider. You might also use natural dyes in decorating your scarecrow and giving him or her a face… to give just one more example.
Reclaimed Materials for a Scarecrow
As well as making full use of natural materials from your garden, you should also think about how you can use items and materials that might otherwise be thrown away. Of course, old clothes are top of the list. But a scarecrow does not necessarily have to look human. You can be really creative and make all sorts of monsters if you wish – or try for an eerie replica of a person. The choice is yours and the only limit is your own imagination.
Here is a list of just some of the reclaimed materials which have been cleverly turned into scarecrows for gardens:
Old clothes, accessories and boots/ shoes.
Old bedding/ other reclaimed fabrics.
Plant pots/ planters.
An old rake/ brush/ broom/ hoe…etc…
Old fencing/ mesh panels.
Though these materials are just the beginning. Raid your recycling pile and hunt about in the back of cupboards, in your garage or garden shed and you are sure to find plenty of other interesting things that you could use.
Make Sure Your Scarecrow Moves
There are a few things you can do to make it more likely that a scarecrow will actually do its job. One of those things is making sure that your scarecrow has a moving element. Something that will blow around in the breeze can make it more likely that birds will steer clear. An entirely static scarecrow might often actually become a perching post, rather than a deterrent.
Light fabrics which flap, or foliage/ grasses which blow around in the wind could help to keep birds slightly warier.
Consider Scarecrows That Make a Noise
Adding elements to your scarecrow which make some kind of noise can also help make them more than just a decorative feature. Clanking cans, elements that tap together, or wind-chime type elements could help deter birds from becoming pests in your garden. Irregular noises made when the wind blows could help you to protect the plants in your plot.
Make Changes To Your Scarecrows over Time
The movement and noises are all about making sure that the scarecrow does not become a familiar fixture to the birds in your garden. Birds tend to be freaked out by something that is new. But will quickly become used to the new addition. Once they become used to it, it is less likely to keep them away.
So making changes to it over time – moving an arm, adding a new hat, or making a small amendment or addition could help to make it somewhat more effective. Moving or altering the scarecrow over time could also be something fun to laugh about with your family. Did someone move/ alter the scarecrow… or did it do it on its own!
The most important thing when making a scarecrow is not really whether it works or not, but how much personality it has. So have some fun seeking out the natural and reclaimed materials to use, and creatively combining them to create your scarecrow character. A scarecrow is often more of a sculpture or work of art than an actual practical addition to your garden.
We’d love to hear about your own scarecrows. What have you used to make your scarecrow? How did you make it? Share your ideas and how well they have worked in the comments below.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.