Having a garden in your home is a common fixture in American households, and for good reason. Gardening not only gives your front yard an aesthetic appeal; it also increases home value to up to 20% (a helpful boost if you plan to sell your home in the future), lifts your mood, and helps in combating mental health disorders.
Unfortunately, having a garden means a free-for-all playground for Fido and Kitty. Cats particularly like marking their territories (in this case, your garden) with urine and feces to ward off other cats. If you have a vegetable patch or flower beds, their excrement can contaminate your plants with parasites that can transfer to you once you eat your own produce.
Thankfully, there are ways to make sure your cats leave your precious garden alone. Here are five ways:
Cats have about 200 million smell receptors－four times more than the average human. This means that they are highly sensitive to items that have strong smell, such as citrus and essential oils.
Take advantage of this information by scattering some orange and lemon peels all around the garden; preferably underneath the bushes or places where cats use as an entrance. Aside from their scents, these leftover peels can be used as organic fertilizer for your plants.
Another ingredient you can use would be black and cayenne pepper. You can either sprinkle them directly on the soil (don’t worry, they won’t harm your plants) or dilute it in water along with a few cloves of garlic. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and dampen the mulch with it.
You can also use essential oils, vinegar or ammonia if you have some in your pantry. Dilute a few drops of the substance in water and put it in jars. Strategically bury these jars in different areas of your garden, making sure that the rim is exposed.
Do remember that the effects of the scent repellents mentioned above can be gone in a week or two so they must be replaced frequently. During rainy seasons, they may have to be replenished every other day since the rain and wind can easily whisk away the smell.
Also, not all scents can work for every individual cat. Your pet may scurry away once it smells a whiff of ammonia yet remain unaffected with lemons. Experiment on what works for your pet.
Cats (and a few dog breeds as well) love to dig around in search of rodents or preys underneath the soil. This habit can cause problems especially if your plants are still in germination phase (meaning, they’re still a seed).
You can make this act a tad more difficult for your four-legged friends by adding a few rough, sharp objects in your mulch. Cats and dogs love to sink their paws in soft soil. Once they feel sharp rocks, pinecones or pebbles that could seriously hurt them, they would avoid digging in that area.
You can also go to the other side of the spectrum. Instead of adding dry objects, make your soil mushy and moist all the time by adding manure or tiny amounts of clay. Cats get annoyed with wet mulch since the soil sticks to their paws. Pretty soon, they’ll leave your garden alone.
While planting cat-specific poisonous plants can immediately remove the invasion problem, this plan can surely backfire if you yourself own a cat. Besides, having a poisonous plant just to ward off animals, be it of neighbors or not, can be pretty harmful to the said pets.
There are, however, recommended plants that can considerably ward them off but not kill them. Examples of these plants include marigold, rue, lavender, and pennyroyal. One particular plant species, the Coleus canina, is known as the “Scaredy cat plant” because of how effective it is to shoo cats away.
Aside from making your garden extra colorful, this plant also emits scents that can drive your cat away from your vegetables. You can also use this plant as some sort of “fence” that would separate your front yard to the main road. It ensures that your cats (and possibly even dogs) remain within your area.
Gone are the days when plastic bottles, CDs, and scarecrows are used to scare cats, dogs, and even birds away from your garden (although a few gardeners still use these age-old tricks). Thanks to technology, motion-sensor devices that can detect animal movement can now be used to chase them off your property.
For this one, you can either use an ultrasonic device which emits a sound frequency that can only be heard by cats but not humans; making them momentarily stunned or annoyed or motion-activated sprinklers that can chase off cats with water once they detect their movements nearby.
Most brands that offer these products ensure that the sound and water they release would not seriously harm your cat.
Finally, if you can’t scare them off, just offer an alternative. Grab a portion of your garden and transform it into an outdoor litter box. Surround it with cat-seducing plants like catmint and catnip along with some toys, food, and litter.
But remember to always clean that area and fill it with as many distractions as possible so that they won’t find your garden more interesting than that place.
I'm Ann Katelyn, Creator and Chief Author of Sumo Gardener. Since I was a child I've always been fascinated with plants and gardens, and as an adult this has developed into my most loved hobby. I have dedicated most of my life to gardening and started Sumo Gardener as a way to express my knowledge about gardening with the hope of helping other people's gardens thrive.
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