Not A Litterbox: Choosing Mulch That Will Discourage Cats From Digging In Your Flower Beds

If you are not a cat owner or lover, you may be unhappy to find that neighborhood cats have come into your yard, dug in your flower beds and garden area, and used your property to relieve themselves.

And even if you do own cats, you probably have areas that you don't want them to use as a bathroom. Not only does their activity make your well-cared-for beds look unattractive, but you don't like finding cat waste as you tend to the beds. What can you do?

There a few types of mulch that can discourage cats, because they prefer not to dig in that material. Mulch -- that top layer of organic material that helps add nutrients to the soil and that makes your garden look nice -- comes in many varieties.

Types of Mulch That Keep Cats Away

Some mulches that are heavier or have sharper edges can be unpleasant to cats, both to walk on and to dig in. Another benefit of a heavier mulch is that it stays in place longer and keeps weeds down. Here are some options to consider:

  • Stone mulch. Small rocks look great and keep weeds away but aren't appealing to cats at all. It also lasts for much longer than most types of mulch. Some tips: Keep the stone or rock really small and use a thin layer, so you don't struggle to plant in it. Rake it occasionally to refresh the look and cover any bare spots.
  • Hazelnut shells. The shells from all kinds of tree nuts, but specifically hazelnuts, can be ground up and used for an attractive but sharp-edged mulch. The shells take longer than bark dust to break down. They're more difficult to find outside of the Pacific Northwest, but worth the search.
  • Heavy wood mulches topped with pine straw. A combination of cedar and pine mulch, with a top layer of hard-to-walk-on pine straw, works for some homeowners.

Types of Mulch That Cats Prefer

Some types of mulch are very inviting to cats and will actually promote digging. Bark dust and other commonly used wood mulches are light and easy to dig, and can attract cats. You'll want to avoid using these in areas where you're trying to keep cats out.

Really like these types of mulches? You can still use them, with a few other techniques designed to keep cats away.

  • Scatter pinecones and other bristly pods from trees. These are natural, won't look out of place in the garden and will keep cats from digging.
  • Lay out branches from your pruned rose bushes. The thorns will make it impossible for cats to walk through the beds.
  • Use a commercial spray cat repellant or cayenne pepper mixture. The smell will keep cats away.
  • Plant lavender, rue and other plants that are disliked by cats. Many of these have a strong smell.

You may have to experiment with what keeps cats away. The right mulch covering your beds will discourage cats and make them look elsewhere, where the digging is easier. Talk to your landscaper about other options that may stop felines from invading your flowers.

For more information, contact Superior Lawn and Landscape or a similar company.