One of the questions that I get asked most often is about how to keep cats out of flower beds. Some gardens seem to attract every cat in the neighborhood, while others get left alone.
There are several things you can do to make your flower garden less attractive to cats, and other strategies to actively discourage them. We will discuss your options in detail here and help you solve your cat problem for good.
You will probably need to try several of these strategies, especially if the cats have been hanging around for quite a while. Cats are creatures of habit, and they can be stubborn, so you need to be persistent in dealing with them.
How to Keep Cats Out of Garden Beds: Encourage Them to Go Elsewhere
One of the most effective ways to discourage cats immediately is to spray them with water. A one-time spray will not solve the problem, but it takes care of the immediate behavior. For a long-term solution, install motion-activated sprinklers.
Whenever the cats come into your flower beds, the sprinkler will be activated. You can move the sprinklers around and cover the entire garden. The cats will quickly get the message.
If the cats respond by moving to a new spot in your yard, you can move the motion detector sprinklers again until they leave the yard. Since cats do not like water, this method can be handy. If you do not want the expense of motion-activated sprinklers, just spray the cats with a hose every time they go near the garden.
Use Cat Repellents
Some people swear that the best way to get rid of feral cats is with an ultrasonic repellent. There are several types of cat repellents on the market that are effective. Ultrasonic Cat repellents work by emitting a high-pitched sound that irritates cats, dogs, and other animals, but that we cannot detect and does not harm human ears.
This ultrasonic device might be the right choice for you if you do not have any pets. If you do have pets, this repellent will hurt their ears and is not the wisest choice to get rid of unwanted animals. It will discourage cats, dogs, raccoons, birds, and other animals from coming into the area. One device will cover a small yard, or you can get solar models that you install in the garden area.
Another repellent option is a chemical repellent. These are available as a spray or in granular form. The spray needs to be used daily outdoors to remain effective, while the granules are longer lasting and are probably the best cat repellent for outdoors. These repellents use essential oils that cats find unpleasant, without being unpleasant to humans. Regular use will keep most cats out of your yard.
How to Keep Cats Out of House Plants
A spray repellent works well for keeping cats away from plants and will remain more effective longer indoors. Spray your houseplants and the soil around the plant daily, or whenever you see the cats have returned to the pot.
The last repellent option is a special mat or mesh cloth that you place on the ground around the plants in your garden or flower bed. These are a commercial solution, but the home remedy of putting chicken wire on the ground in the flower beds works just as well. The best option would be to put chicken wire or these mats on the ground before you plant your flowers.
If your garden is established, you can cut the chicken wire or mats to fit between and around plants. The mesh is unpleasant when the cat tries to dig in the dirt and encourages them to go elsewhere without harming them.
How to Keep Cats Out of Garden Beds: Smells Cats Hate
What plants repel cats? One strategy is to use plants that cats dislike. To repel cats, be aware that they hate the smell of rue, lavender, lemongrass, pennyroyal, lemon thyme, geraniums, and coleus canina. By adding these plants throughout your flower garden, you may be able to ban the cats naturally.
Cats also dislike the smell of citrus, so you may achieve some success by saving your lemon, lime, orange, and grapefruit rinds and sprinkling them around the garden as a homemade cat repellent. They will eventually break down into compost but can discourage cats while their scent lasts.
Give Cats an Alternative
If you do not mind the cats in the yard, but want to keep them out of the garden, you may find easy success by providing a more attractive space for them. Plant a small garden of catnip away from your flower beds and give them a small sandy area to use as a liter area.
Don’t use this strategy unless you do not mind having the cats in the yard. It can sometimes backfire and draw in more cats in the long term.
Plant Cat Repellent Plants
One of the best and easiest ways to keep cats out of your plants is to plant cat repellent plants that you like but they don’t. Plant one or more or a combination of lemongrass, geranium, lavender, rue, and pennyroyal to discourage cats from entering areas where you don’t want them to roam. They add color and a nice scent to the yard that you will find pleasant but the cats will avoid.
How to Keep Cats Out of Mulch
Cats are very particular about some things. They do not like to walk on spiky surfaces that poke and prickle their paws. How to keep cats from pooping in flower beds or digging in plants is to add material that is uncomfortable for them to scratch around in.
One effective way to keep cats away from plants is to use a prickly mulch material like pine cones, rough stones and rocks, or a thorny ground cover. You can also put plant spikes between plants or plant plastic forks with the tines side up mixed in the garden area. These kinds of materials keep cats from finding a comfortable place to lounge and encourage them to move to softer, more amenable spaces.
How to Keep Cats Away from Plants: Use a Fence
You may already have a fence and are finding it to be no help in keeping cats away from plants. In fact, many cats will lounge on the fence. However, you can make that fence very uncomfortable for cats and discourage them from using spikes on the top of the fence.
You will find commercial products designed to make this an easy project. The spikes attach to the top of the fence with tape, glue, or screws.
Avoid Attracting Cats
You may have habits that are drawing in cats, without realizing it. Food smells from pet foods, trash cans, or a recently used grill can draw cats to the area. Keep food indoors, or clean up outdoor foods immediately, and keep your trash tightly covered.
Avoid providing shelter for feral cats by keeping your house, shed, and garage tightly closed, including areas under the house or porch. Also, keep the yard clear of brush that might attract mice or provide shelter for cats.
Cats mark their territory with urine, so wash fences, doors, and walls that may have been sprayed with an enzyme-based odor neutralizer. The odor not only marks the territory of one cat but may also draw in more cats.
All of these strategies are effective in keeping cats away from plants, but you may need to use more than one to be completely successful. Cats, like people, have their likes and dislikes. What works for one cat may not work for another. However, if you stay diligent, you will succeed in keeping cats out of your flower beds or vegetable garden.
Watch the cats in your flower beds carefully and try to determine what motivates them. Are they scratching in the dirt? Try chicken wire and a remote sandbox. Are they looking for a comfortable place to relax? Try an uncomfortable mulch. Watching the cats behavior may tell you which strategies to try first.
We hope these strategies help you find a solution to your cat problem. Give them a little time; cats can be stubborn. By making them uncomfortable, you can help them move along to a different spot or hopefully, out of your yard completely.
If you have a better strategy, please let me know. Help us spread the word about these cat repellent strategies by sharing this article on Facebook, Pinterest, and other social media. We can all learn from each other.