Keeping Kitties Out
Paul James offers some tips for discouraging cats from fouling your plant beds.
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Is your garden bed more than just a rose garden? It can also be potty paradise for neighborhood cats. Felines are territorial: Once they mark their spots, it's hard to break the pattern – and that's especially true in well-tended gardens.
Mulch is a wonderful thing for your roses, but it's a giant invitation to a cat, because it's a lot like a litter box. If you're having problems with cats in your garden, Gardening by the Yard host Paul James offers some diversionary tactics that might come in handy.
One deterrent is a spiky mat (figure A) you can find in garden supply catalogs. To apply it to your garden, just bend down its tabs and stick them into the soil through the mulch. Pick spots that seem to be the cat's favorites.
The problem with these devices is that to cover a big area, it'll cost you. A less expensive option? Bird netting (figure B). Lay it on top of the mulch and it does essentially the same thing the mat did – provide an unpleasant scratching experience for a cat.
A similar option is chicken wire. Cut pieces that fit snugly around the plant and slide them into place (figure C). Add a layer of mulch, which will weigh the wire down and act as a camouflage.
Other problem areas
Cats don't limit their snooping to the rose garden. A crawl space or open area beneath the porch also provides the perfect cover for the animals.
You could always close off a space like this, but if that's not an option, natural scent repellents (figure D) – sometimes in the form of a granule mixture – are the way to go. They smell like something the cat doesn't like (such as black pepper oil), but Paul finds them only marginally effective because they have to be reapplied often, especially after a rain.
Your veggie garden might be another favorite cat hangout. Unfortunately, it's not quite the place to lay chicken wire, and off-the-shelf scent repellents are a no-no.
Luckily, there's another repellent that's extremely effective – citrus peels (figure E). Cats are averse to the smell of citrus, so the next time you peel an orange or lemon, throw the rinds a few inches apart into your veggie garden. Replenish the peels as their scent begins to fade.
Another natural repellant is vinegar – cats hate the way it smells. You won't be able to use this in your garden (it's an herbicide, as well), but it's great to spray around the garden perimeter. Use a store-bought 5 percent acidic or apple cider vinegar (figure F), and reapply after it rains.
Cat Scat (31-954) - Gardener's Supply Company
under-deck cat repellent (Critter Ridder) - Havahart
Master gardener Paul James takes questions about gardening from his audience.