Cats and plants do not go well together. Since cats are free to roam throughout the neighbourhood, visiting felines are a common sight in many gardens – but they are not always welcome. Not only do cats eat precious plants, they use your garden as a toilet, ruining the soil with their infertile faeces. But there are many solutions for keeping cats out of your garden, including cat deterrent plants.
Which plants repel cats?
Cats won’t generally be repelled by plants as such, but they can be deterred by the scents or textures of particular shrubs. By carefully placing these plants at entry points you can cut down on cats wandering into your garden. Mixing them into borders can prevent cats from climbing over your flowerbeds, where they dig and disturb plants and seedlings.
Cat deterrent plants
1. Scaredy cat plant (Coleus canina)
The scaredy cat plant was bred in Germany specifically as a garden pest repellent. It emits an odour when animals brush past and can be effective against cats, dogs, foxes and rabbits. Unfortunately the smell of dog urine it gives off is so strong that it is unpleasant for nearby humans too. It’s easy to grow, likes the sun and is drought resistant, but will need protection from the frost during the winter months. It grows best in dry soil, which is ideal as cats usually avoid damp patches anyway. You can expect it to grow no taller than 2 feet and have beautiful blue or purple flowers.
2. Lavender (Lavandula)
Luckily, lavender comes with a scent that’s nice for us but unappealing for felines. These purple flowers are evergreen, so they act as a year round deterrent. Choose the tall varieties and plant them at the front of your borders as cats won’t jump over if they can’t see where they’ll land.
3. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)
Another fragrant option is rosemary, a herb that’s great for cooking as well as keeping cats at bay. It likes dry soil and a warm climate, but is also evergreen.
4. Rue (Ruta graveolens)
Rue is a shrub that kitties are adverse to. Plant it outside and sprinkle some of its leaves on the patio or inside if you need to warn cats away from these areas. But be careful since rue is poisonous, so always use gardening gloves when handling. If eaten it can cause nausea, vomiting and convulsions.
5. Pennyroyal (Mentha pulegium)
Also known as pudding grass, pennyroyal is the smallest of the mint family. But unlike a lot of mint, this variety is a deterrent for cats as it gives off a very strong spearmint fragrance. Once used in Roman cooking, pennyroyal has also had medical uses (despite the oil being poisonous) and served as a pest deterrent for early settlers in America.
6. Curry herb plant (Helichrysum italicum)
Cats don’t like curry. This spicy plant grows into a thick bush that releases its odour when animals brush past, offending the creatures with both its smell and coarse texture. You may want to use this one sparingly, however, as it is seen as a weed by many due to the harmful effect it can have on other flowers.
7. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and thyme (Thymus citriodorus)
Citrus is well know to ward off felines, so plant some lemon varieties to help with your natural defenses. Lemon balm produces white flowers in the summer and is great for attracting honey bees. Lemon thyme is an evergreen shrub that needs lots of sun and good drainage. It has pink flowers in late summer that attract bees and butterflies.
8. Thorny bushes
Cats won’t tread on uncomfortable surfaces, so covering exposed ground with spiky plants can be a great natural way to keep the kitties off. Grow thorny plants like roses, perennial geraniums or pyracantha over any bare soil in the flower beds. You can also make a spiky wall out of hedging like blackberry, hawthorn and holly to prevent cats from even entering your garden.
How to use plants to deter cats
Place some of these plants around the boundaries of your garden to ward off cats passing through the neighbourhood. Others work well around the front of flowerbeds as they stop cats climbing in to mark their territory. Cats spread their scent through urine and faeces as a reminder that they can visit this spot again, so preventing this is crucial for keeping them out. Cat deterrent plants ward off cats and physically stop them from digging up the flowerbeds to use as a litter tray. Layer mulch and pebbles around your plants to make it even harder for cats to dig the soil up. It’s also worth putting some of the plants in pots, so you can move them around if you see cats entering via another route, or if they come across the patio.
Using plants that attract cats
As well as deterring cats through planting, you can direct them to specific areas with attractive plants and so control their impact on the garden. Cats are attracted to catnip (Nepeta cataria) – hence the name – mint and honeysuckle, so simply plant these in the places you’d prefer cats to visit.
Our bestselling Pestbye Cat Repeller would make a great companion to deterrent plants to boost your defenses against feline invaders. Simply place it in your flowerbed and it will emit high frequency pulses whenever cats come near to send them running!
George works in the Primrose marketing team. As a lover of all things filmic, he also gets involved with our TV ads and web videos.
George’s idea of the perfect time in the garden is a long afternoon sitting in the shade with a good book. A cool breeze, peace and quiet… But of course, he’s usually disturbed by his energetic wire fox terrier, Poppy!
He writes about his misadventures in repotting plants and new discoveries about cat repellers.
My multi-award winning garden, Driftwood, is located by the sea in Sussex, on the coast between Brighton and Eastbourne. Over the years it has seen 14500 visitors and raised £76000 for charity. Last year it featured on BBC Gardener’s World and was a finalist in Gardeners’ World Magazine, Garden of the Year Competition too. Every year it is a challenge to create a variety of garden rooms that looks a little different, so the many returning visitors see something new and fresh. In order to create a flexible and fairly easy to change garden, I’ve always used terracotta containers of all sizes. I’ve probably got a collection of over 150 now. I’ve never been keen on plastic ones, they just don’t look at home in the garden, whatever the colour. OK I hear you say, the advantage is that they are not as heavy as the real thing, but there really has never been any competition for me, despite the weight! Now roll on the years, I’m 64 this month and I’ve been forced to reconsider how I create a different look in the garden this year. I’ve been using a trolley in recently to move containers around , but even that has started to get more difficult, especially in a garden on a slope with several steps to negotiate.
So, this year I decided I needed to try and ease the burden, by investigating some lightweight pots that still looked like terracotta. The obvious place to check on line was Primrose, as they seem to stock everything anyone could need for the garden, and I have purchased quite a few things from them over the years.
Two areas of the garden that rely very heavily on the use of containers, are these central steps in the garden and the patio area at the back of the house, which resembles a wall of plants on either side, like corridor of plants!
On investigation, I found what looked like the perfect solution! The fibre clay containers seemed to fit the bill perfectly for the steps, as I needed to find ones that were the right size to sit perfectly on the brick steps. They look absolutely at home, even before they have been filled with annuals for the summer season. These containers are all 30 cm tall and will work well, creating the waterfall effect I need to achieve. Look at last years results to see what I aim to create.
On the other hand, at the back of the house, one of the features I had within the wall of flowers was an old Victorian wooden cart which sat under a large potted camellia. On moving it to tidy up last month, it disintegrated and I’m left with the 2 axles and a side panel. I therefore needed to fill a large space, so two fibre clay containers, the tall one 64 cm tall and the lower one 37 cm tall. They look amazing in the space already . Granted, these are so big they will probably never be moved but all the others are perfect for ease of movement each year as needed. I also needed 3 troughs to sit on tiered shelving as part of this area of the garden. The 3 from Primrose fitted perfectly, which will also make life a lot easier. Just imagine how they will look when we open the garden gate to our first visitors on the 11th June. The garden is open 14 times for public days this year but also by arrangement from 1st June until 3rd September. If you live around Sussex, or are planning holidaying in the area this year, why not come and visit the garden yourselves. Full details can be found at www.driftwoodbysea.co.uk
Look out for the next blog this Summer, so you can see what the containers look like when our visitors view them in the Summer.
Geoff Stonebanks lives in Bishopstone, near Seaford in East Sussex and spends all his time gardening and fundraising for Macmillan Cancer Support. Using his multi award-winning garden, Driftwood, he has raised over £76,000 for various charities in 7 years, £40,000 of that for Macmillan. The garden, which first opened to the public in 2009 has featured on BBC2 Gardeners’ World, Good Morning Britain and in many national and local media publications. In his spare time, Geoff is also the National Garden Scheme’s Social Media & Publicity Chair as well as an Assistant County Organiser & Publicity Officer in East & Mid Sussex.
Before starting my job as a Marketing Executive at Primrose, I spent four years working as a domiciliary care worker. It was during these years I learnt about the phenomenal difference a garden made to my client’s lives, and how important it is to have a wheelchair friendly garden. I spent many hours wandering my clients’ gardens hearing about the progress they had made and learnt a lot about gardening myself from their advice. I’ve seen first-hand how watching a garden grow improved the mood of my clients, and I’m sure all gardeners can agree there is nothing more satisfying than seeing the results from all your hard work when flowers bloom, fruit appears or the bumble bees come stumbling in.
It is so important then that everybody has the opportunity to garden independently, whether you have had greenfingers your whole life or decided to give it a try for the first time. Gardening presents a huge array of benefits and the light exercise of pottering in your garden has been proven to burn more calories than a gym session – and you save on that membership fee! There has also been significant research to suggest gardening dramatically improves your mental health and self-esteem…weeding doesn’t sound so bad now does it?
However, gardening with a disability is far from easy and the lack of wheelchair friendly garden products can certainly be frustrating. I have been researching ways you can make your garden wheelchair friendly so you can adapt your garden and make the most of your outdoor space!
For serious gardeners, a greenhouse is a must. A greenhouse gives you the ability to grow plants and get results you ordinarily would not be able to, especially with the uncertainty of the British weather! It also gives you the opportunity to shelter your plants and yourself from any nasty weather meaning you get some extra time to tend to your plants, and who doesn’t want that?
Finding a wheelchair friendly greenhouse need not be difficult as long as you take proper measurements and research the greenhouse thoroughly. Don’t just take into account the space in your garden but also consider the space you need to be able to work comfortably, because you might be spending a lot of time in there.
Things to consider when looking for the perfect wheelchair friendly greenhouse:
Check the width of the doors to the greenhouse and make sure your chair will be able to fit through easily when entering and exiting.
Make sure there is no threshold (small step at the base of the greenhouse) which will be difficult to get over safely in your chair.
Height of internal shelves: make sure if your greenhouse comes with shelving that it is at a height you can reach comfortably.
If you keeping these requirements in mind it should be easy to find a greenhouse that is perfect for you, have a look at our wheelchair friendly greenhouses that also come in different colours to see if you can find the greenhouse of your dreams!
Another way you may wish to adapt your garden may be through the use of raised beds. Raised beds minimise risk by saving you from bending down to care for your plants, which would otherwise strain your back. However, make sure to thoroughly research which raised bed is going to be best for you based on your individual capability; raised beds are fantastic but they can also be difficult when you have to reach across them to tend to your plants. Think about a height that is going to work best, as well as the shape and the depth in regards to what will be most comfortable for you.
Raised beds are also a great option if you have poor quality soil due to the increased depth which makes good quality aerated soil for your plants. Isolating these plants also means you have the benefit of fewer weeds, and less pests! Raised beds are also renowned for improved drainage, which can be either a good or a bad thing depending on the situation, but does definitely mean more watering in the summer months which could become a burden.
If you have a grass garden you might find that buying some roll out garden tracking may really help you get across your garden. Garden track can help to disguise uneven grounding and gravel that typically make gardening in your chair more difficult. Clip in tracking can be extended as much as required for your convenience, or you can buy specialist wheelchair garden tracking for this purpose. Tracking is particularly good to use in bad weather too, and can be rolled up to be stored away easily until you need it next.
Finding good garden tools is an essential for any disabled gardener and there is a huge range online that have been adapted to make gardening jobs much easier; so be sure to shop around for what tools will make life easier for you personally.
In general, it’s great to have lightweight tools with wide handles. Not only will these help you with having a better grip, but it means you will be able to spend longer on gardening tasks without the tools becoming too heavy.
Without a doubt though, the most important tools when gardening in a wheelchair are those with extended arms which save you from bending too far. It’s possible to get a wide range of tools with extendable arms on the internet from grippers, sheers, weed burners and much more.
One way to save yourself from constant bending is to have a potting station in your garden so you can get on with gardening jobs such as; potting and looking after cuttings and seedlings. They are also great for storage and hiding your tools and pots you’re not currently using. Make sure to check the measurements of the workstation so you find one that is the best height for you.
It’s also worth considering using lightweight planters for planting in future, as these will make it a lot easier to manoeuvre the pot in your garden and save a lot of strain on your back when you need to re-position it. There are a wide range of lightweight planters now on the market that still have an authentic look so it’s worth having a look to find some pots that suit your garden’s style.
My last bit of advice is seemingly simple; keep your garden neat and organised! Not only will this make your garden appear tidier, but it is also very important to help prevent accidents. By having an organised garden with proper storage solutions you can give each tool a place and ensure you always know where to find it!
If you have any more advice on how to create a more wheelchair friendly garden please do get in touch, and I hope everyone enjoys their gardens now we’re entering the Spring!
Zoë works in the Marketing team at Primrose, and is passionate about all things social media.
After travelling across Europe and Asia, Zoë is intrigued by different cultures and learning more about the world around her. If she’s not jet setting, Zoë loves nothing more than curling up with a good book and a large glass of red wine!
She is an amateur gardener but keen to learn more and get stuck in!