How to keep cats out of garden beds

Updated February 21, 2017

Cats are delightful pets, but they can be nuisances if they use your flower bed or vegetable garden for digging, as cats' waste can kill plants. Cats are stubborn and determined and are hard to deter once they've made up their minds, but some simple and safe barriers or repellents may discourage them from making unwanted visits to your garden bed.

Install a barrier to make it more difficult for cats to enter garden beds. Bury a piece of wood lattice in the soil, then plant flowers or vegetables in the spaces. The wood will discourage cats from digging. Alternatively, lay concrete reinforcing wire in strategic places in your flower bed.

Use unpleasant scents to deter cats from your garden beds. You may need to try a variety of combinations before you find one that works. Scatter orange or lemon peels around the flower beds. The odour may deter cats, and the peels will eventually break down and enrich the soil. Run the peels quickly through a blender to chop it into bits. Some cats may be discouraged by a spray made by soaking chopped onions or garlic in water. Strain the liquid, then use it in a spray bottle. A sprinkle of cayenne pepper may keep kitties away, or fill baby food jars with ammonia and place the jars in strategic areas.

Lure cats away from your garden beds with a patch of catnip. Plant the catnip in a corner or a hidden area of your garden. Most cats will be attracted by the catnip and will choose that area over your garden beds.


Try planting marigolds in your garden beds. Marigolds add bright colour, and some cats may not like the smell. Install motion-controlled sprinklers in your garden beds, as cats don't like showers.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood lattice
  • Concrete reinforcing wire
  • Orange peels
  • Blender
  • Onion or garlic
  • Spray bottle
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Baby food jars
  • Ammonia
  • Catnip plants
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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.