How to make a scarecrow: dos, don'ts and creative ideas

Emma-Louise Pritchard
·8-min read
Photo credit: David Burton - Getty Images
Photo credit: David Burton - Getty Images

The aim of a scarecrow is to do exactly as its name suggests: scare crows and other birds away from vegetable patches, crops and allotments. Here, we look at how to make a scarecrow using a traditional design and more alternative scarecrow ideas. We also explore the dos and don'ts of scarecrow-making, what materials to use and the important factors you must consider before you start.

As well as looming over allotments, it is also common to see scarecrows popping up in rural towns and villages as part of a scarecrow competition, often to raise money. This is a great way to bring the community together and encourage families to get creative.

4 things to think about before making a scarecrow

1. Reuse, reuse, reuse – The beauty of making a scarecrow is that you can put your old, pre-used items to good use protecting your well-maintained veggies. Everything you need to make a scarecrow can be reused and you shouldn't need anything new. Old clothes, broom handles, twine you've already used in the garden, old CDs – they are all scarecrow gold. If you are in need of a particular item, ask a friend or head down to the charity shop.

2. Wildlife – Consider wildlife and habitats when making a scarecrow and be sure not to put anything in or on your scarecrow that could fall off and become harmful to animals, for example plastic filling or sharp objects.

3. Your neighbouring allotment plots – If you have an allotment surrounded by other plots, consider the aesthetic presence of your scarecrow and how it will go down with your neighbours.

4. Where will you put it? – Scarecrows should be placed near vulnerable plants on your vegetable patch but you must also remember that they will need to be moved to stay effective. Birds get used to scarecrows after a while and will not be put off by them forever.

Photo credit: Ingrid Perlstrom / EyeEm - Getty Images
Photo credit: Ingrid Perlstrom / EyeEm - Getty Images

How to make a simple scarecrow?

When thinking about how to make a scarecrow, it depends on your chosen design. Scarecrows can come in all shapes, sizes, characters, themes and appearances so deciding on what you want your end result to look like is the best place to start. Keep scrolling for a wealth of scarecrow ideas below.

Once you've got your scarecrow idea, split your design into five separate elements. This will help you decide what you will need for each step and how best to bring it together. We asked the National Allotment Society to talk us through how to make a scarecrow:

1. Start with the framework: Your scarecrow will need support to keep it upright. You can use old broom handles, branches and fence posts but watch out for rusty nails that could cause harm or splinters.

2. Move onto the fixings: Think about how you will attach the different parts of your scarecrow to one another. You can use garden twine, cable ties, thin wire, raffia or duct-tape. You can also use a hammer and nails.

3. What will the body look like? Any old piece of clothing can be used and stuffed with straw, twigs, plastic bags, shredded paper, or worn out fleece and netting from your allotment plot. You can also make a body out of plant pots, boxes or old bottles.

4. The all-important head: When it comes to adding a head to your scarecrow, painted plastic plant pots, water bottles, stuffed hessian sacks and old footballs are potential materials. Don't forget to add a hat, too! An old colander looks great as a headpiece.

5. Accessories: Garnish your scarecrow with extra shiny, noisy things to help deter the birds. These could be old CDs, tin foil, bottle tops or tin cans. Don't forget your imagination!

8 scarecrow ideas to inspire you

A TRADITIONAL SCARECROW – We love how much effort has gone into the face of this traditional scarecrow. Using old gardening gloves to make hands is another great touch.

Photo credit: Daniel Knighton - Getty Images
Photo credit: Daniel Knighton - Getty Images


A SCARECROW WITH PROPS – This busy scarecrow has a gardening fork and watering can as props.

Photo credit: Malcolm Pritchard
Photo credit: Malcolm Pritchard

...AND GLASSES – The maker of this gardening scarecrow has used old wire to form glasses and add character to the face.

Photo credit: Malcolm Pritchard
Photo credit: Malcolm Pritchard

A SCARE-CROW – This clever design has turned the scarecrow into the exact thing it's trying to scare: a crow! The maker has used black bin bags to create wings. The shininess will also help deter birds.

Photo credit: David Woollett | National Allotment Society
Photo credit: David Woollett | National Allotment Society

A BROOM SCARECROW – Using an upside down broom to create the face and frame is a great idea.

Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images
Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images

A FRIENDLY SCARECROW – How happy and cheery is this scarecrow? The oversized head is really fun and you can rest assured that it's a fake crow on top of his hat. That will act as another good deterrent.

Photo credit: Daniel Knighton - Getty Images
Photo credit: Daniel Knighton - Getty Images

AN EMBROIDERED SCARECROW – The face of this scarecrow has been embroidered to create character.

Photo credit: Richard Baker - Getty Images
Photo credit: Richard Baker - Getty Images

A GRETA SCARECROW – This scarecrow maker has gone to great lengths to recreate Greta Thunburg, complete with sign and plaits.

Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images
Photo credit: MARCO BERTORELLO - Getty Images

A HALLOWEEN SCARECROW – Using vegetables to protect vegetables! This maker has used a pumpkin design for the head of his stumpy scarecrow.

Photo credit: Noam Galai - Getty Images
Photo credit: Noam Galai - Getty Images

How do you make a scarecrow head?

Here are a few ideas for how to make a scarecrow head:

  • Stuff an old pillow case, an old pair of tights or a hessian sack with straw or old plastic bags and then decorate the outside with a face. You could draw or sew on a face or attach other objects that resemble eyes, a nose and a mouth.

  • Draw a face onto an old football and attach that to your frame using wire.

  • Draw a face onto a used large plastic water bottle. Turn it upside down so the top forms the neck and can easily be attached to the frame.

  • Use a plant pot to make a head and fill it with straw, grass or flowers to create hair. Draw or paint a face onto the pot.

  • If you want to get extra crafty, make a paper mache head at home and paint it however you like. Then attach it to your frame, no stuffing required.

  • Don't forget to pop an old hat on top!

How do you make a scarecrow out of paper?

Paper is not the best material for an outdoor scarecrow as it will easily get wet and will not withstand the elements. Scrunched up paper and newspaper might make good stuffing though, if the outer-layer is hardy enough to stop it getting waterlogged.

Making a scarecrow out of paper is a great craft project to do with children if you plan to keep the paper men indoors. They make great decorations for harvest festivals and are a creative way to teach children about self-sufficiency and growing your own fruit and vegetables.

To make a 2D paper scarecrow simply cut the shapes you need out of different coloured paper (a circle for the head, oblong for the body etc). Stick them together using staples or glue.

How do you make a scarecrow movable?

To make a scarecrow move in a basic way, you are relying on the wind to do the hard work. The most simple way is to hang things off your scarecrows arms that will move in the breeze, like old CDs. The light reflection will also help scare birds away.

For a slightly more advanced moving design, attach the head with a sturdy spring so that it can bob around in the wind. The spring must be kept short to restrict movement enough so that there is no risk of it sagging and breaking. This option requires a light head. A football, for example, might well be too heavy.

How to you make a scarecrow without straw?

If you don't want to stuff your scarecrow with straw, either because you don't have access to any or you are allergic, there are plenty of alternative materials you can use to stuff your scarecrow with. They include:

  • twigs (be careful they aren't too sharp)

  • old plastic bags

  • shredded paper, newspaper and cardboard (this needs a hardy outer-layer which won't let water in)

  • old clothes

  • used netting from your allotment

  • leaves, grass and garden clippings

How do you make a scarecrow costume?

Your scarecrow's costume depends on the character you are creating. If your design is of a general human figure then any old clothes can be stuffed, padded out and attached to the frame. Make sure old clothes are big enough to be stuffed.

If your design is more specific – like a farmer or a film character – find clothes to match their persona. You could die old clothes to get the right colour or even head to the charity shop and see what you can find. As previously mentioned, avoid buying anything new to adorn your scarecrow.

If you'd rather not use fabric, you could paint a box with a clothing design or pattern.

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