Issue: March 22, 2008

How to discourage cats damaging your landscape


I read your article about how to keep snakes out of your yard in the Sunday (March 9) paper, and I need to know how to keep cats out of the yard. A section of our yard is covered with bark, large rocks, and low maintenance plants. The neighborhood cats use it for a litter box. What can we do to discourage them?

Kay A.


Cats are a problem for many gardeners. They are a difficult problem to solve. Repellents may work, but only temporarily. They will need to be applied frequently; however, they do not always work. Some areas needing special protection can be temporarily covered with chicken wire while plants are establishing. This will at least give them a chance to get their roots established without being dug up by the cats. Some gardeners have told me that they use their rose prunings at the base of special plants. The thorns on these prunings tend to discourage the cats for a while. This may be another temporary solution if the appearance of the rose prunings is not a major distraction from the appearance of the landscape. It seems cruel, but rather than harm the cats it encourages them to just look for another place that is less thorny. Some gardeners have found that some fragrant plants, especially those with strong fragrances like rosemary, are often avoided by cats and other animals. A border of plants with fragrances unpleasant to cats (like rosemary) may also be use to block them from areas you want to protect.

back to top

Marisa Y. Thompson, PhD, is the Extension Horticulture Specialist, in the Department of Extension Plant Sciences at the New Mexico State University Los Lunas Agricultural Science Center, email:, office: 505-865-7340, ext. 113.


For more gardening information, visit the NMSU Extension Horticulture page at Desert Blooms and the NMSU Horticulture Publications page.

Send gardening questions to Southwest Yard and Garden - Attn: Dr. Marisa Thompson at, or at the Desert Blooms Facebook.

Please copy your County Extension Agent and indicate your county of residence when you submit your question!