Home and Garden

How to keep cats out of the garden

The silhouette of a cat on a yard fence.

So the neighbourhood cat keeps digging in your garden. Should you worry?

Probably — a little. Cats are carnivores and their feces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in herbivore manure.

Luckily, there are several eco friendly solutions that will help to keep cats out of your much loved vegetable beds and away from your growing food.

Cats prefer to walk on soft soil and will avoid prickly surfaces. Make your garden beds into a less inviting litter box with the following prickly solutions:

  • Cover the garden in twigs, placed a couple of inches apart throughout the bed.
  • Push pine cones or other prickly yard trimmings down into the soil around your plants.
  • Lay chicken wire over the beds. Alternatively, upcycle the mesh produce bags from onions or potatoes by spreading them on the garden and anchoring them with twigs. Increase the hole size around your budding plants if necessary.

Use scent to keep the cats away

  • Interplant in the garden. Cats dislike the smell of rue, lavender and pennyroyal, Coleus canina and lemon thyme — so plant a few of these throughout the garden space. As a bonus, interplanting will attract pollinators and can help to avoid pests too.
  • Cats steer clear of strong citrus scents. To ward off unwelcome fur balls, throw peels directly on the garden.
  • The scent of human hair deters cats. Empty your brushes onto the garden and reclaim your territory! (Stay away from moth balls though — this is a commonly cited suggestion — they are toxic to cats and humans).

Wash well to deter garden cats

If your visitor has a favourite location, try washing the area well with a hose (or water from your rain barrel!) to remove the scent or urine spray. Cats tend to choose the same spot repeatedly — removing their previous stake on your garden will go a long way towards preventing reoccurrences.

Mix up a batch of cat-away spray

Rumour has it that this magic combination of strong scents is unparalleled kitty repellent:

  1. Combine 1 tsp of black pepper, dry mustard and cinnamon in a spray bottle with a few drops of citrus essential oil and a crushed garlic clove.
  2. Fill to the top with water.
  3. Apply to your garden beds.

Create an outdoor litter box

Cats love mint, honeysuckle and catnip. Why not plant a small, separate, cat-friendly garden that includes a variety of these plants? Place a small sand box nearby. You’ll still have to clean up and properly dispose of your cat’s waste, but it might help keep kitty — and her business — out of your veggies.