How To Keep Cats Out Of Garden Beds


How To Keep Cats Out Of Garden Beds

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We all know how frustrating it can be when cats decide your beautiful garden beds seem like the perfect place to dig and do their business.

As a fellow gardener and cat owner, I’ve had my fair share of experiences with Fluffy ruining my flowers or vegetables. But over the years, through trial and error, I’ve discovered some simple yet effective solutions to keep cats away from garden beds.

In this article, I’ll share the best tips and tricks I’ve learned to deter cats from gardens, including using repellents, setting up barriers, and even training methods.

My goal is to help you protect those lovely plants you’ve worked so hard to grow. A green thumb is no match for a determined cat, so arm yourself with the knowledge to safeguard your garden.

Let’s get started with some of the top deterrents that have worked wonders in my own garden!


When it comes to keeping cats away from garden beds, deterrents are your first line of defense. The goal is to make the area around your plants unappealing and uncomfortable for cats so they want to avoid it. Here are some of the most effective cat repellents I’ve used:

Coffee Grounds

Cats hate the smell of coffee grounds. Simply sprinkle some fresh grounds around the perimeter of your garden beds. You can even mix used coffee grounds into the top layer of soil. The strong aroma will deter cats from digging or snooping around your plants. Reapply after rain or watering.

Citrus Peels

Another scent cats dislike is citrus. Save your orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime peels and place them around your beds. I like to scatter peels near plants that are most tempting to cats. The bright smell reminds cats of citrus spray deterrents.

Pipe Cleaners

This low-tech option involves poking pipe cleaners into the dirt among your plants. The rubbery wires will move when stepped on, frightening cats away.

Pipe cleaners are harmless to plants but unpleasant for sensitive paws.

Motion-Activated Sprinklers

For the high-tech route, install motion-activated sprinkler deterrents. These devices detect movement and shoot out bursts of harmless water when cats come snooping.

I highly recommend the ScareCrow brand. Cats learn to avoid the areas after getting startled by the sprinklers.

Scent Repellents

Look for cat repellent granules made with predator urine scents, like coyote or bobcat. Shake-Away is an excellent commercial option.

Sprinkle around garden beds to make cats feel unsafe. Reapply after rain. The granules smell unpleasant to cats but not to humans.


In addition to deterrents, barriers can be extremely effective for keeping cats away from your plants. The goal is to physically block access so cats can’t enter garden beds.

Here are some barrier ideas that have worked for me:

Decorative Fencing

Installing a fence around your garden is the ultimate barrier against roaming cats. Opt for decorative fencing made of wood, metal or plastic to enhance the look. A fence with posts too wide for cats to squeeze through works best.

Wire Mesh Screens

For a less expensive barrier, cut hardware cloth or wire mesh sheets to size and place them over the soil in beds. Weigh down the edges with rocks. The rigid mesh prevents cats from digging but allows water and sun to penetrate.

Gravel Mulch

Spreading a 2-3 inch layer of gravel mulch over the soil deters cats from digging. Small pea gravel works best. The coarse texture is uncomfortable for cats to walk on. Just leave space around plant stems.

Raised Beds

Elevated garden beds with at least 12 inch high walls prevent access by cats. Build your own with wood, stone or bricks, or purchase pre-made beds. An added benefit is the beds prevent back strain!Barriers take a bit more effort but provide sturdy protection. Use deterrents like repellents in combination with barriers for the best results.


In addition to deterrents and barriers, a bit of training can reinforce the message that your garden is off limits to cats.

Here are some humane training methods I’ve used successfully:


Make sure your cats get plenty of active playtime every day. Set aside 15-20 minutes for interactive toys like wands and laser pointers. This allows cats to satisfy their natural hunting curiosity outside so they’re less tempted by the garden.

Indoor Plants – Growing a few tempting cat-friendly plants like catnip, oat grass and cat thyme indoors can distract cats from your outdoor garden. Give cats access to these plants in pots so they have an approved place to nibble greens.

Positive Reinforcement – Reward cats with treats when they move away from the garden on their own. Offer praise and petting too. This positive reinforcement helps them learn which areas are off limits. Stay patient and consistent.

Deterrent Training – Use motion-activated water deterrents periodically so cats learn the garden is an unpleasant zone. The brief startling bursts of water teach cats not to associate the area with fun or food.

With some diligence, it’s possible to have both a flourishing garden and happy cats. Follow these tips to redirect cats’ attention while protecting your plants.

A multi-pronged approach works best for both you and your feline friends.

Keep Your Garden Safe from Cats

We’ve covered a lot of ground on effective ways to keep cats from destroying your beautiful garden beds. From smelly repellents to physical barriers, you’re now armed with knowledge to protect your flowers and veggies.

The key is being vigilant and consistent, especially during the peak growing season. Try combining several deterrents for maximum impact.

And don’t forget to give your cats ample attention and approved plants to nibble. A little effort goes a long way toward sustaining a cat-friendly garden oasis.

I hope these tips help you relax and enjoy your garden without worrying about cats wreaking havoc. No more coming outside to find your prized plants dug up or dead.

Here’s to a lush, flourishing garden protected from curious cats but still welcoming to their human companions. Let me know if you have any other questions! I’m always happy to chat gardening and cats.


What is the most effective commercial cat repellent for gardens?

I’ve had great success using Shake-Away cat repellent granules. The formula mimics coyote and bobcat scents to trigger cats’ natural fear of predators. Just sprinkle around the perimeter of beds.

Will coffee grounds hurt my plants?

Coffee grounds are safe to use around most garden plants. The grounds add nitrogen to the soil as they break down too. Just avoid direct contact with plant stems and leaves.

How often do I need to reapply deterrents like citrus peels?

Plan on reapplying citrus peels and other scent deterrents about once a week, and after heavy rain or watering. Consistency is key so cats don’t get used to the smell.

Can cats jump over garden fencing?

To be safe, install fencing that is at least 5-6 feet tall with posts too wide for cats to squeeze through. This will deter all but the most agile cats.

Will pipe cleaners harm my plants?

Pushing pipe cleaners into the soil won’t harm plants. Just avoid piercing stems or leaves. Remove and replace pipe cleaners periodically as they degrade.