Your outdoor Halloween décor would hardly be complete without that spooky effigy: the scarecrow. Even in a bustling urban neighborhood, the good-spirited haunts of a scarecrow are yours for the making.

by Jeff Joyce

I’ve been building scarecrows for my home in Buckhead for the past 13 falls. They are fun to build, easy to maintain and much more creative than store-bought plastic decorations. So whether you are planting a winter garden or making sure the little ones have a spirited house to visit on Halloween, a scarecrow is one of my favorite fall essentials. Building your own scarecrow is easy with a few supplies from around the house. (If you want the easy way out, construct one that sits.)

You’ll need:

• A long-sleeve shirt, the rattier the better
• A pair of old jeans, work pants or overalls
• A pillowcase, burlap sack, medium-size pumpkin or large gourd for the head 
• Duct tape
• A crossbar for arms; a broomstick will do nicely
• Some type of stuffing; straw is classic, especially if you don’t want feet and hands, but it’s easier to use plastic grocery bags or even bubble wrap (avoid newspapers and towels as they hold moisture)
• If you want a scarecrow that stands, you’ll also need a long pole to provide height and back support, usually a two-by-four; a broomstick will do for shorter scarecrows
• Old boots for feet (optional)
• Old work gloves for hands (optional)

For a standing scarecrow:
Place the vertical two-by-four stake in the ground. Place the pants on the stake. Tie off the cuffs. Stuff.  
Place the horizontal stick through the shirt. Secure the stick to the horizontal stake with duct tape then stuff and button up.
Insert the tied-off cuffs of the shirt into the gloves and attach them with pins or small clips. Tuck the shirt into the pants.
Tuck the cuffs of the pants into the boots.
If you’re using a pumpkin or gourd for the head, prepare it as you would a jack-o-lantern. If you use a pillowcase or burlap for the head, draw or paint the facial features prior to stuffing it. Attach it to the shirt with safety pins.

If you opt to take the easy way out, your scarecrow can sit on bales of hay or in a chair.

When the season is over, store him in a dry place for use again next Halloween.

Make sure that when you are done, you buy lots of candy. Your house will now be a popular destination for little ones and their parents wanting to get just a little closer to that spooky thing lingering in the shadows.

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