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Home Remedies for Keeping Pets Out of Gardens

By Cindy Hill ; Updated September 21, 2017
Furry friends can wreak havoc in the garden.
Puppies of the spitz-dog and cat in studio image by Ulf from Fotolia.com

People love their pets, but our furry friends can be devastating to a vegetable or flower garden. Dogs love to dig and barrel through garden plots, oblivious to the plants they are bowling over. Cats like to use the nice light fluffy soil of a freshly dug garden as a litter box. Commercial animal repellents may be harmful to pets' health, so use safe homemade remedies to keep pets out of your garden.

Cayenne Mix and Tea

The North Dakota State University Extension Service advises that a mixture of two parts cayenne pepper, three parts powdered mustard and five parts flour, sprinkled copiously around garden areas, will keep away nearly every four-footed creature. Store the mixture in a large jug with a lid. Use gloves when applying it, and avoid applying it on a windy day so as not to inhale the mixture or get it on your skin. The North Dakota Extension also suggests that keeping your used tea bags, then tearing them open and sprinkling the tea leaves around your garden plants, will deter cats from using the area as a little box because they do not like the scent of tea.

Rocks and Diversions

One way to discourage cats from inhabiting your garden beds is to plant them a bed of their own. The North Dakota Extension suggests planting an area of catnip to divert cats away from your garden. Wheatgrass is also attractive to cats and will distract them from your flowers and vegetables. Laying large, flat river stones between vegetable garden rows or around your perennials can also deter cats, since they are seeking out a large area of soft accessible dirt for a litter box. Strong scented culinary herbs like lavender and rue may also deter cats from your garden beds.

Fencing and Wire

The University of Vermont Extension advises that fencing is nearly the only sure way to prevent dogs from running through your gardens. They suggest trying invisible fencing for your own dogs and having a serious talk with neighbors if unleashed pets from other households are damaging your gardens. Chicken wire laid flat on the ground and staked down over new plantings will prevent dogs from digging in them. The North Dakota Extension suggests laying concrete reinforcing wire down flat around your garden area because cats don't like stepping through the wires. Spraying the wire with eucalyptus oil acts as an added deterrent.


About the Author


A freelance writer since 1978 and attorney since 1981, Cindy Hill has won awards for articles on organic agriculture and wild foods, and has published widely in the areas of law, public policy, local foods and gardening. She holds a B.A. in political science from State University of New York and a Master of Environmental Law and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.