Add a scarecrow to your garden this fall. ATTRIBUTION: jeff_golden (Flickr)

Since the start of the agriculture age, hungry birds looking to feast have always been a problem for farmers. Some of the first recorded scarecrows in history were set up along the Nile River of ancient Egypt to protect precious wheat fields from flocks of quail. Scarecrows are known throughout the world, although they go by different names. For example, in Scotland, a scarecrow is referred to as a tattie-bogle. Not all scarecrows have looked like your typical American version. In pre-feudal Japan, scarecrows known as kakashi were put in the rice fields to scare off birds. These scarecrows consisted of dirty rags, sticks, and noisemakers like bells mounted to a pole and lit on fire.

Why should you have a scarecrow? There are plenty of reasons:

1. To Keep Birds Away

Newly planted vegetables are often a temptation to various species of birds and small mammals. A scarecrow works by providing the garden with a “human” that frightens these creatures away. However, the wildlife may become wise to your ruse, so it’s important to change the scarecrow’s clothing and location on occasion.

2. To Act as Decor

Scarecrows, along with pumpkins, mums, and other fall décor, can add vibrant color and creativity to your yard. Many people use scarecrows as a type of fall décor that can be hung from a post, sat on a chair, or positioned on a stake. Place a scarecrow near the entrance of your garden to act as a whimsical greeter.

3. To Entertain

Add a scarecrow to your garden to get a good laugh from family and friends. Make your scarecrow resemble someone you know, or have your scarecrow do something unconventional, such as ride a bike. A scarecrow can also be set up upside-down, like it’s doing a handstand, or dancing with another scarecrow.

4. To Create a Scene

Create an awe-inspiring fall scene in your garden with scarecrows and other fall décor. For example, set up a small wagon with a scarecrow driver, surrounded by blocks of straw, pumpkins, and a black cat. Another option is a façade of an old cabin with a scarecrow sitting in a rocking chair on the porch, surrounded by pumpkins and corn stalks.

5. To Make It Spooky

Make your garden extra-spooky this Halloween season by incorporating scarecrows into your décor. Instead of a normal scarecrow face, switch to a jack-o’-lantern with a spine-chilling cut-out face. Hang some realistic bats from trees, and have fake rabid animals coming out of nearby shrubs.

6. To Stay Organic

Many gardeners use scarecrows to avoid having to use harmful chemicals in their gardens to keep birds and other critters away. Scarecrows act as a natural deterrent to many creatures, including birds and some small mammals. However, the scarecrow can be put in a location where birds can still reach dangerous insects in other parts of the garden if desired.

7. To Use Up Old Items

Do you have old pieces of wood, clothing, and other items laying around your home or shed? Use them to create a fall scarecrow scene in your backyard. Unused bales of hay or straw can be used to stuff your scarecrow, while small pieces of canvas, felt, and other materials can be used to make the head and features.