When Spring comes, preparing the garden beds for planting, tilling the soil happens. This will loosen the dirt to allow the roots a place to grow. When you are tilling the garden beds, there is a lot of loose dirt.
Cats love to scratch the dirt. They scratch at the litter when using the litter box as a way to hide their poop.
Nothing says “FREE BATHROOM” to a cat like loose dirt and sand. Learning how to keep cats away from the garden can be tricky. Especially if you don’t want to use chemicals.
We have 3 homestead cats, who live outside. Since they like to live outside, they were in the garden beds all the time. They also seem to invite all the neighborhood cats over for a party in our garden.
What we can be left with is a dug up garden bed, full of cat waste. I don’t need to tell you how nasty that is to think about, do I? Cat poop can be full of bacteria that isn’t good for humans and it doesn’t seem to compost down.
Things We Tried That Didn’t Work
Some things we tried to keep the cats away from the garden:
- Sprinkle cinnamon on the garden beds. But, when it rained, we’d have to do it again. And again. And again. It could get quite labor intensive as well as expensive.
- Orange peels-easy to do, and a great use of the whole fruit. But, it didn’t work for us. Again, we had to replace them each time it rained, or got scratched out of the way.
- Moth balls, beer poured around the beds just made our garden beds smell like stinky moth balls and stale beer.
- The old wives’ tale of urinating in the garden was a bust for us. Sure, my boys enjoyed doing that, but it got to be stinky. Our neighbors were not fond of this one, either.
- Spray them with a hose. This was NOT a good solution for us. I felt that this was mean to the cats, and there was NO way I was going to be out there all day, every day, waiting for them.
Using Plastic Forks to Deter Cats
We were stumped, looking for an answer to keep cats away from the garden. We had the solution, staring right at us for some time, and we didn’t even know! We “planted” plastic forks!
We had the forks in our camping box already, so it was inexpensive.
The cats went to scratch at the freshly tilled dirt, but hit one of the forks instead. It usually deters them away from trying to use the garden beds as a litter box. It truly is an easy way to keep cats away from the garden!
The best thing is that it doesn’t hurt them at all. They just don’t like the feeling of the forks on their paws. And yes, cats learn very quickly. They learn to stay away from the garden beds without chemicals, or spraying them down with a hose.
Steps to “Planting” the Forks
To “plant” your plastic forks, first plant your garden with desired seeds.
After you plant the seeds, cover them with dirt. (obviously!) Stick a fork into the dirt, about 1 inch from the seed.
You want to stick the whole fork, up to the tine end, into the dirt. This keeps it from disturbing the seed as it grows. It can even serve as a marker of where you planted!
This was easy to do. We had the forks from our camping gear already, making it a inexpensive.
I imagine that we will get a lot of uses out of the forks from this method. I know already that the cats didn’t like it. This doesn’t hurt them at all, either. They simply went to scratch at the turned soil, and when their paws hit, they didn’t like that.
It works great because the forks don’t move, unless you WANT them to. Rain won’t wash them away, and they don’t leave a lingering smell. This made our neighbors very happy! Happy neighbors is ALWAYS a plus when your homestead is in town, right?
Want to know how to keep cats away from certain areas? Plant forks where you don’t want them to be. We have a couple forks near the opening of our greenhouse as well, to deter the cats from going in.
This is also how to keep cats from pooping in flower beds. Simply “plant” some forks where you have your blossoms.
Some people may be concerned about plastic leaching chemicals into the soil. There is a slight possibility of this, but it’s very slim.
While that may be an issue, my personal preference is to take that SLIM chance over the LARGE chance that a cat’s poop can contaminate our plants. Cat urine is also high in ammonia, and that can destroy plant roots.
My biggest concern is keeping cats away from the garden. You could also find cheap stainless steel forks at yard sales or thrift stores to use. This will help eliminate the plastic all together.
I don’t have to keep the forks in there the entire summer, either. Once the plants are well established, the cats no longer seem interested in the garden beds.
I simply remove the forks at that time, and save them for next year. We have used the same forks for going on 3 years now.
Do you have issues with cats in your garden beds? What do you do to keep cats away from the garden, and out of your garden beds?
Heather’s homesteading journey started in 2006, with baby steps: first, she got a few raised beds, some chickens, and rabbits. Over the years, she amassed a wealth of homesteading knowledge, knowledge that you can find in the articles of this blog.
Learn more about Heather and the rest of the writers on this page.