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I am doing a bit of work around our garden, part of which will involve surfacing a largeish area with bark mulch.

There are a lot of cats around our area, and they are already frequently in our garden. I'd like to avoid accidentally creating a large litter tray, and I was wondering if anybody could recommend some plants that may help us to deter the cats from coming in?

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3 Answers 3

Cats will also generally avoid the largest sizes of bark mulch - say, 3-4 inches in diameter or larger. They have a hard time standing on it because it is "tippy" and an even harder time scratching in it, so they tend to find other places to do their business when they can. So if you will use this size, or put a layer of the largest size bark mulch you can find on the top of what you do use, this should at least cut the behavior down.

I've used this method for years (I currently have three cats of my own) even in my potted plants, and found it nearly eliminated the litterboxing behavior. Your mileage may vary, however, because as mentioned in the other note, this is not an easy problem to solve.

Also, fist size or larger cobbles/rocks scattered throughout the planting will help as well. If you can get enough to place them no more than just a few inches apart in the mulch, then there will no longer be a large enough clear area for the cat to do their business. They also won't be able to scratch in the mulch as they prefer to do, so that will be a deterrent to the behavior as well. I've used largish cobbles as another way of keeping cats out of my potted plants. If you can cover enough of the soil with them, this can be very effective.

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Thanks for the answer, I'll give that a go. –  Paddy Apr 24 at 12:24

Ooh dear, I'm veering between being absolutely truthful or coming out with the usual PR nonsense about some plants being 'scaredy cat plants'. I think I'll opt for truth...

No, there are no plants which will deter cats from coming in your garden, and they may well view your bark chips as slightly chunky cat litter, unfortunately. There are plants they don't like much (pelargoniums) but certainly not enough to put them off coming into the garden. What they don't like are stones - not pea shingle, that's too small in size, more like cat litter, but small pebbles. Using those instead of bark will mean they won't attempt to use the area as a toilet because they're too uncomfortable for the cats to push around. Your other option is to use bark chips, but scatter bits of thorny branches over the top (berberis, holly, etc), but only if the area isn't regularly used by children.

I don't know why you're having such a large bark chipped area, there may be a very good reason, but another option is ground cover plants which spread and cover all the soil. Finally, get your own cat - it may well use the garden as a toilet at certain times of year, but will usually prevent other cats from coming in too frequently.

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Thanks for that. We might look at some gravel instead. Price is always an issue! –  Paddy Apr 24 at 12:25

You can always put some chicken wire under your mulch,they do not like too walk on it and they wont be able too scratch it.

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