Scarecrows in the Garden
By: Julie Day
As long as there have been farmers, there have been birds trying to eat their crops. And throughout the ages, farmers have tried to come up with ingenious ways to scare them off. Nowadays, scarecrows are familiar sights, not only in gardens but in autumn decorations, with no end to the cute (or scary!) possibilities.
But do they really work? Here’s what you need to know to make and use scarecrows in your yard or garden.
From ancient Greek wooden sculptures of Priapus placed around the garden, to the German bootzamon or “boogeyman” (often accompanied by his wife, the bootsafrau), scarecrows have always been familiar figures in gardens, orchards, and vineyards. And in some cultures, scarecrows were actually live people, hired to shoo the birds away!
In modern gardens, we most often see the typical stuffed human-shaped scarecrow, perhaps accompanied by an assortment of rubber snakes, owls, and foxes. Because they don’t actually harm the birds, they’re popular in organic gardens, where the idea is to scare birds away from the crops while still allowing them in other parts of the yard to eat insects and grubs.
Do Scarecrows Really Work?
Like deer and rabbits, birds are wary but adaptable. While they will steer clear of anything that looks suspicious or out of place, if it stays put for a while, they’ll get used to it, and eventually you’ll find them roosting on it!
A basic scarecrow, placed in your garden and left alone, is likely only to be effective for a few days. So in order for your scarecrow to work, it needs to be ever changing. You can accomplish this by:
- Changing up your scarecrow’s wardrobe from time to time.
If you’re also using rubber snakes and the like, keep them moving too, so the birds will be fooled into thinking they’re real.
How to Make a Scarecrow
You can make a basic human-shaped scarecrow from scraps you probably have lying around the house. To make a scarecrow, you’ll need:
- Accessories: To keep the birds guessing, add some changeable accessories to your scarecrow. Aluminum pie pans, old CDs, and strips of plastic can be tied to the scarecrow to flash in the sun. Wind chimes, bells, spoons, or sticks can be dangled to clack and ring in the breeze. Wheelbarrows, bicycles, garden tools, hay bales, and other accessories can also be added and removed.
Where to Install Your Scarecrow
Now that you’ve made your scarecrow, where should you put it? By now you should know the answer: Everywhere! Keep your scarecrow moving and changing. Give him a garden project with some tools, or sit him on the fence, or move him from one end of the garden to the other, every couple of days. The birds will be suspicious of this garden where it seems like someone is always working!
- How to Make a Scarecrow Without Money or Actual Skill (Blog con Queso)
- How to Make a Scarecrow (Helium)
- Organic Gardening 101 (article)
- How to Prevent Deer from Damaging Plants in Your Yard (video)
- How to Use Deer Repellents in Your Yard or Garden (article)