5 Easy Ways to Keep Cats out of Your Yard and Garden

By Mary Hunt

December 28, 2020 4 min read

If you've ever suffered the annoyance of outdoor cats ruining your yard and garden, help is on the way! Consider any of these options to quickly send them on their way without harming them.


Cats naturally seek out bare soil to use as their toilet space, making gardens their favorite outdoor litter box. This causes damage to plants; gives off a seriously unpleasant odor; and makes for very unsanitary conditions.

Because they don't like the smell, you can use coffee grounds to deter cats from using your garden as a litter box. By regularly sprinkling used grounds (either wet or dry) in and around your garden, cats will eventually decide to find a new bathroom spot.

If you prefer to work with dry grounds, do this: Spread the wet, used coffee grounds on a baking sheet in a thin layer and place them in a 250 F oven until dry.


Place a layer of chicken wire in areas cats are drawn to in your yard or garden. You can lay the wire right on the soil or mulch before you plant and use wire cutters to create openings large enough to accept plants. Or skip the plants, and sow seeds.

Why is this a great cat deterrent? Cats hate walking on the chicken wire so much that they'll steer clear of the wired areas.


Cats hate to get wet, so this harmless option is super effective. This is quite possibly the best way to keep stray cats away. Devices such as the Costway Scarecrow sprinkler use motion sensors to detect the presence of animal intruders and then shoot a blast of water at the animal.

Search stores and online for a motion-activated animal repellent that is solar-powered. These things run from about $30 to $70, depending on their features. Solar power will make it convenient to place one anywhere that it will receive sunlight.


Coleus canina is a super choice in plants to deter cats from using your yard for their community litter box. Also known as the Scaredy-Cat plant or Piss-Off plant, strategically planting this around your yard will repel feral and other cats. While Coleus canina has a lovely purple flower, if touched, it gives off a strong, stinky smell. Keep that in mind as you decide exactly where to plant.


Another option, if you decide planting-to-deter is your method of choice, is lavender. These plants both look beautiful and have a lovely fragrance. And for some reason, cats do not like lavender. The strong fragrance of lavender will also help to repel gnats and mosquitoes. Plant these beautiful bushes along the perimeter of your yard to keep cats away. Should you go with the tall variety of lavender, a good option is to plant it around the perimeter to discourage cats from jumping to get into the garden.


Along the lines of "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," build an outdoor litter box. Choose an area at the back of the yard or garden to place a large, plastic bin. Cut an 8-by-8-inch doorway. Now fill it with sandbox sand. This will give them a more attractive place to defecate than your flower bed. Because cats enjoy privacy and a clean place to do their business, this will keep them pooping where you say they can and at the same time protecting your yard and garden. Meow!

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living.

Photo credit: lumix2004 at Pixabay

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