Plant-Eating Animals: Keeping Cats and Dogs Out of the Garden

Updated on April 24, 2019
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Billy Haynes is a content writer and founder of HD Writing Co. He has an interest in many things and experience in writing about even more.

Keeping Cats and Dogs Out of The Garden
Keeping Cats and Dogs Out of The Garden

Below is a list of plant-eating animals discussed in this article and ways to keep them out of the garden:

  • Cats
  • Dogs


Cats are among one of the more common animals that end up in gardens. This is because cat owners often allow them to run around outside. This is annoying for gardeners for various reasons, from cleaning up after stray cats, to repairing damaged gardens after cats run through them.

Cat in the garden
Cat in the garden

Signs of Cats in the Garden

Other than simply spotting cats around the yard or property, or laying in the garden some signs include:

  • Finding cat poop in the garden bed.
  • The smell of cat pee in or around the garden.
  • Broken plants after spotting these four-legged felines.

How to Keep Cats Out of the Garden

Luckily there are some proven ways that have helped keep cats out of the garden, or the yard. Some of them may seem more common sense, but some are less known techniques, let’s take a look.

Cat Repellent Methods

Chicken Wire

Create an unpleasant surface for the cats to dig by covering the garden and applying a thin layer of soil on top.

Large Pebbles or Rocks

Used for covering bare ground, it reduces the cat’s ability of covering their, waste.


Surround the garden in trellis to increase perimeter height. It also reduces the amount of space the cat can safely land.

Cat Repellent Plants

Thorny Bushes

Cats try to avoid bushes with thorns for obvious reasons, they hurt. Some plants with thrones include: Roses, Holly, Blackthorn, and Hawthron bushes. If you’re cat problem is really bad, trimmings from the bushes can be mixed in the garden mulch or fertilizer and used in the garden bed.

Citrus, Mint and Spices

You can make sprays at home that work at repelling cats, made from your garden plants. To make this spray, combine citrus fruits, aromatic plants such as mint, and pepper extracts. Spray areas you do not want cats to use as their personal bathrooms.

Be Careful

If your neighbors have pets you should be cautious about which products and/or plants are used, as certain ingredients and oils not only deter animals, but can be fatal to them.


Because of the strong scent produced by lavender plants, when grouped together they can be successful at warding of cats. Then as they grow, you can harvest them to use in your recipes too.

Natural Cat Repellent Methods

Lion Dung

Got lions in your area? Probably not if you’re in the United States, but you can purchase fertilizer pellets that have been soaked in lion dung. Although odorless for humans, cats can detect it and find it a major threat.

Something to Keep in Mind

You may want to check local laws prior to using lion dung as it could impact nearby wildlife.

Owning a Dog

If you have the means of owning a dog, it can be a good way to deter cats from roaming in your yard. By having the scent of dogs in the yard, cats are less likely to spend time on your property.

Cat Repellent Products

I Must Garden Dog and Cat Repellent

Still can’t seem to get the cats to stay away? It may be time to step up to using products. There are many cat repellent products available on the market, but one I remember my parents using with success is the I Must Garden Dog and Cat Repellent.

This product worked to repel the neighborhood strays, but it is also naturally safe for pets and humans, and it’s environmentally friendly too. It is simple to apply the granules, simply by spreading around the area you want to be protected using the shaker top.


Similar to cats, these four-legged animals can cause damage to your garden too. Dogs may simply run through the garden, not realizing it’s not just extended ground for their pleasure. Others may determine there are plants and/or fruits that they enjoy eating. Either way, a gardener never wants a dog in the garden, especially larger ones.

Dog in the garden
Dog in the garden

Signs of Dogs in Garden

Without actually seeing a dog, there is one key way to determine they are visiting: poo. The gifts left behind by dogs are typically larger than that left by cats. The exception is toy breeds.

Other signs include:

  • Damaged plants
  • Eaten fruits
  • Paw prints

How to Keep Dogs Out of the Garden

Eventually in gardening, you are likely to encounter a situation where you need to keep dogs out of the garden. Various factors are inviting for dogs, from the soft soil to dig and lay in, to the newly growing seedlings or produced fruit catching their interest. Below are some methods that could help in these situations.

Dog Repellent Methods


Similar to cats, you use trellis to create a barrier around your garden to deter dogs. Other fencing types can also be used. This is a more direct way to protect the garden, but not always the most aesthetic approach.

Water Sprinkler System

If you have a water sprinkler system, you’re in business. If you don’t, it’s time to invest! Dogs, cats, and various other critters hate getting wet. When you witness animals in your garden, one sure fire way to send them running in a hurry (safely and humanly), is to turn your sprinkler system on. After a few times, dogs will remember and likely find a dryer part of the yard to wander in.

Dog Repellent Plants

Add Spices

If you do not want the appearance of fencing around your plants, as this can hide them, adding various spices to your garden or around the lawn is another option. Dogs have a much stronger sense of smell than humans, meaning they are more sensitive to scents. This is one reason dogs do not care for spicy stuff.

Sprinkle the garden with spices, such as crushed peppers that you have dried out. No pepper plants? Using crushed red pepper flakes work too.

Using mustard powder with the dried pepper can increase the benefits, as well as deter insects.

Rose Bushes

Dogs avoid being poked, as we all do. By planting rose bushes around the garden, you can help deter them away. They also learn quickly, so they know not to go through them.

Alternatively, you can use branches you prune from rose bushes, laying them around the garden. This creates a barrier of thorn-covered sticks that do not hide your garden from view.

Natural Dog Repellent Methods


Because oranges are bitter, dogs usually do not care for them. You can shave the orange peel, like if you were zesting it. Then sprinkle this around the garden. Additionally, you can squeeze the juice from the orange and use this in your water. However, keep in mind oranges are high in natural sugar and may attract certain pest in high concentrations.

Coffee Grounds

Be Careful

Coffee grounds can be poisonous to cats and dogs due to their caffeine content. If the animal ingests enough, it could be at risk of caffeine poisoning.

Another option that dogs do not care for due to being bitter, is used coffee grounds. They are also great for fertilizing the garden, so this is win-win. They do not wash away as easily as crushed pepper or mustard powder, making them a great option to test out.

*Note: You can combine oranges and coffee grounds for a more potent combination. Let the used coffee grounds soak up the orange oil/juice then spread in the garden.

Dog Repellent Products

Solar Brite Eyes

This is a great product for reducing, and possibly eliminating dogs in your garden. It works by charging throughout the day with solar panels, then through the night two red LED lights shine to give the appearance of critters lurking around, which work as a decoy.

The author has a friend who broke down and invested in the Solar Bright Eyes. They claim it has also helped deter other night visitors, including raccoons and rabbits, and at less than $20, it beats losing plants to various pest.

Have you had issues with cats or dogs in the garden?

See results

If yes, did you successfully use any of the mentioned methods?

See results

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Billy Haynes


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