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How to Keep Cats and Rats Out Your Garden

Nothing is worse than spending your time, energy and hard earned money on your garden, only to have neighbourhood cats use it as a litter box and rats move in like they own the place. Thankfully, there are quite a few inexpensive and easy to assemble ways to keep cats and rats out of your garden.

How To Keep Cats Out Of Your Garden

  • Lay chicken wire into your soil – Cats hate strange textures on their feet, so they will avoid your garden if you embed chicken wire into the soil. Simply lay chicken wire down before your plants begin to sprout above the ground – they can usually grow in between the gaps in the wire. Do you have larger plants that need more room? Simply use wire cutters to snip away some of the squares to make them larger.
  • Lay down lattice fencing – In a similar way to the chicken wire, cats will be put off by lattice fencing. Lay down the lattice fencing before you plant your seeds, and the plants will naturally sprout around the lattice. If you need to transplant any existing seedlings or plants, simply plant them in the gaps.
  • Make the soil uncomfortable in a safe and natural way – Don’t want to embed anything into your soil? All is not lost. Lay down a thin layer of natural materials, including rough mulch, pinecones, pebbles, or rocks. Cats hate walking on these surfaces, so they will stay away.
  • Use scat mats – You can buy scat mats at most hardware stores, proving that you are not alone in your problem! These are plastic mats that are lined with flexible plastic spikes. Even though the spikes are soft, cats hate their textures, and they will avoid your garden. You can usually buy the mats in multiples, and they are easy to lay down in your garden. However, you can’t just lay them down – you need to push them firmly into the soil so that your clever clogs cat doesn’t paw it up and off the ground!
  • Add certain plants to your garden – Cats despise the following plants, and they will avoid them at all costs. Intersperse these amongst your other plants, or set planters containing them around your garden.
    • Lavender
    • Thorny roses
    • Geranium
    • Lemon thyme
    • Rue
    • Absinthe
    • Coleus canina, also known as “Scaredy Cat Plant”
  • Spread strong smelling dried herbs or scented oils – As you likely already know, cats are finicky and particular. While they hate certain textures, they hate certain strong smells even more. If you don’t want to plant some of the herbs listed above, sprinkle generous amounts of the following safe herbs and/or oils around your garden.
    • Rue
    • Lavender
    • Lemongrass
    • Citronella
    • Citrus
    • Eucalyptus
    • Cayenne Pepper
  • Install a low voltage wire – Don’t fret! A low-voltage wire won’t harm cats, it will just send a gentle message that they aren’t welcome! String low voltage about 4 inches (10 cm) away from the ground and remember to keep the little ones away from the garden.
  • Citrus peels will do the trick – Cats hate the smell of citrus, and they don’t want to get it on their paws. It’s affordable, easy and fast to scatter dried or fresh citrus peels throughout your garden.
  • Coffee grounds or dried tobacco - The scent of coffee and tobacco is revolting to cats, and they will give your garden a wide berth if you spread these materials around. Just remember – coffee grounds can be toxic to cats if they consume them, so keep an eye out to ensure that this doesn’t happen. You can pack the grounds into tea bags to prevent the cats from eating them.
  • Spray commercial cat deterrent sprays – Available from most gardening centres or pet supply shops commercial cat repellents contain predator urine. The urine of foxes and badgers is certain to repel them but ensure that the spray is made from these natural ingredients and not harsh chemicals.

How to Keep Rats Out of Your Garden

Rat
While you should be concerned about deterring cats in a safe and harmless way, you might not have the same concerns when it comes to keeping rats out of your garden. While you might initially think of insects as a problem, rodents can be the nastiest pests. Not only will they tunnel through your garden, these disease carriers will eventually want to move into your home after they colonise your garden. You need to learn how to get rid of rats in your garden.

How do you know if you have rats in your garden?

Rats enjoy living in people’s gardens because gardens provide food, shelter and fresh water on a regular basis. They see your garden like an extension of their normal territory, and they are happy to move in. Rats like living in compost piles, plants, lawns and garden beds, and once winter approaches they will be attracted to your warm home. Here’s how you can tell if you have rats in your garden?

  • You can see them – Rats travel on power lines, fences and trees, and they are usually most active at dawn and dusk.
  • Your plants start to disappear – Your most prized seedlings, sprouts, slips and plants will often disappear overnight as the rats fill their bellies. You might even notice that they have been pulled from under the ground.
  • Tunnels throughout the ground: Rats love to build complex systems of tunnels that are topped and tailed by small holes. These tunnels are the death knell for your plants.
  • Mounds start to appear: At the entrances and exits of rat tunnels you will find mounds of soil.
  • Droppings start to appear – Keep an eye out for droppings that look like grains of black rice.

How to Keep Rodents Out of Your Garden

If you already have rats in your garden you will likely need to seek the help of an exterminator, or set out your own traps. Don’t let it get to this stage – keep rodents out of your garden in the first place.

  • Destroy their shelter— Rats love to build their nests in wood piles, brush and tall grass. One of the best ways to send them packing is to destroy and dismantle these habitats. Make sure you maintain short grass, get rid of spent plants quickly, and make sure that all clippings are discarded in the trash. Turn your compost regularly, and move your wood piles on a regular basis.
  • Get rid of their food sources – While it is lovely to sit on your Sloane and Sons Garden Bench and watch the birds flit in and out of your garden, your bird feeders might attract rodents. You might need to remove these feeders for a few weeks, enough time to show the rats that their free lunch is gone. Make sure you tidy away spilled seeds and don’t store your bulk seed outside.
  • Keep an eye on your lawn grubs — Lawn grubs transform into Japanese beetles, and those are pests all on their own. To make matter worse, they attract many rodents, including rats! Milky spore and other chemical pesticides can kill lawn grubs so that you deprive the rats of this food source.
  • Improve the sanitation practices in your garden — If you store your bins in the garden, you need to empty them on a regular basis and never let rubbish accumulate. Give your bins a good rinse with a hose once a week, and clean them with a household cleanser at least once a month.
  • Seal up all holes— The rats might like your garden, but they like sheds and houses even more! Make sure that you assess all of your sheds and outbuildings for holes, and seal them with wood and metal.
  • Install mesh tubes — You can purchase flexible plastic mesh tubes at garden centres. You place these around your delicate seedlings so that rats don’t move in to dine on them, ruining your hard work and costing you time and money.

Summary

Rats and cats may be natural enemies, but sometimes it seems like they have joined forces to attack your garden! Your garden is meant to be a place of tranquility, peace and relaxation, and that’s why a cat or rat invasion can be such a frustrating experience. Thankfully, you now know how to keep cats and rats from destroying your hard work.