How to stop cats and dogs from ruining your garden

canagan dog garden

Your passion project over lockdown is complete. Your garden has undergone a complete transformation and is now the beautiful haven that you dreamed of spending the summer in. But sometimes our pets don’t treat our gorgeous green spaces and budding plants with the respect they deserve! Cue an excited dog, or your neighbour’s nosy cat, and suddenly it’s not so picture-perfect.

That’s why we have compiled our top tips on how to stop dogs and cats from ruining your garden so you can enjoy a stress-free summer with your furry friends.

Why dogs turn destructive in the garden

There are many different reasons behind your canine companion digging in the flowerbeds or chewing on your home-grown vegetables, including:

  • Anxiety — digging can be a form of release for anxious dogs, whether they suffer with separation anxiety, fear-related anxiety or age-related anxiety
  • Teething — puppies love to chew and they’ll even munch on your plants if you’re not careful
  • Boredom — if there’s nothing else to distract them, digging can be great fun for dogs
  • Interesting smells — dogs use their noses to navigate through life. If they catch a strong or intriguing whiff under the soil, they might just try their luck at finding it

How to stop dogs from ruining your plants

Once you’ve established the root cause of your dog’s destruction, you’ll more than likely be able to find a suitable solution. Try the following:

  • Distract and entertain bored or anxious dogs with toys or puzzles
  • Teach them that plants aren’t toys through training
  • Teach them to walk along paths in the garden, as opposed to trampling on plants as a shortcut
  • Take your companion for multiple or long walks, or an energising run, as tiring them out can prevent destructive behaviour

In some cases, you may even need to invest in more extreme measures. For example, fencing off certain areas where your companion likes to cause chaos, or planting flowerbeds and vegetable patches in raised beds. You could even create a designated area where your pet can run, dig and play to their heart’s content.

How to stop your pet’s urine from ruining the grass

Not only does urine turn patches of grass a darker shade of green than the rest of the lawn, but it can cause this darker grass to grow faster too. For many pet owners, this is a real bugbear.

A dog’s urine might have an impact on your lawn because any excess protein in their diet that leaves the body when they go to the toilet contains nitrogen, which is a plant nutrient. However, too much nitrogen can actually kill grass, which is why you may also see some yellow patches of grass in the garden.

There are a few ways to prevent or deal with urine stained grass:

  • Mowing more regularly — this is likely just an optic effect and won’t necessarily make your lawn any healthier but mowing your lawn more regularly will make the light or dark patches of grass less visible
  • Feeding your lawn — many of us don’t tend to feed or water the grass in our gardens, but it can be beneficial. Doing so regularly can help even out your lawn’s colour as it will be better able to cope with wear
  • Alter your dog’s diet — if you’re seeing a lot of yellow or brown patches on your lawn, your dog most likely has too much protein in their diet. To fix this, you could consider changing their food and finding the right balance in their diet. Be mindful about the ingredients in various different foods though, and don’t compromise on your dog’s health for the sake of a pretty lawn

How to keep unwanted cats out of your garden

No matter how much you love animals, it’s normal to feel affronted by neighbourhood cats climbing over the fence into your garden and causing a nuisance. Though some felines will pass through your garden delicately, some might roll around in the flower beds, scratch at garden furniture and even use your garden as their bathroom.

There are various blooms that you can plant in your garden to deter cats, including:

  • The ‘scaredy cat plant’. This was evolved specifically to prevent animals like cats, foxes and even rabbits from visiting a garden. It emits a strong odour when the leaves are brushed past, but it’s worth noting that this scent can be unpleasant for humans too
  • Lavender fortunately smells as beautiful as it looks, but cats are averse to this. Plus, the gorgeous purple flowers bloom all year round, so it’s a win-win
  • Rosemary is another fragrant plant that can keep cats away. This herb is also delicious in cooking
  • Citrus isn’t feline friendly, so plant lemon balm. This produces pretty white flowers and, like lavender, attracts honey bees so you’ll be helping nature

That being said, planting deterrents isn’t necessarily a fool-proof way to keep felines at bay. So, you might want to try some additional methods, like…

  • Using rocks or pebbles, as cats often try to avoid walking on uneven surfaces
  • Placing pinecones or sticks in gaps that cats can sneak through — a natural way to create an uneven surface
  • Laying chicken wire under the top layer of soil in flower beds or vegetable patches, which makes the soil a little uncomfortable — but not painful — to walk on
  • Ensure any outdoor bins are completely sealed, as the smell can attract cats who are looking to rummage
  • Designating a cat-friendly area. It may be that you don’t mind sharing one area of your garden with the local cats so, instead of deterring them entirely, encourage them to visit a defined area. Catnip or catmint plants can attract cats from afar and provide a safe haven, so try planting them in one specific area

It’s important to remember that you should never harm unwanted visitors, rather just make it difficult to come in and wreak havoc. It’s also important to avoid feeding cats who visit, as this encourages them to re-appear.

Your garden is your own personal haven, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed by your four-legged friends too. With the right measures and perhaps a little bit of training, your garden will soon be the perfect space for you to relax while your companions can roam free and play.