How to Keep Cats Away From Your Yard

Published November 12, 2019
Cat sitting in backyard grass

You can learn how to keep cats away from your garden and yard. A few simple techniques can discourage cats from entering your yard or wreaking havoc in your garden.

Chicken Wire Prevents Cats From Digging

A very easy technique is to put chicken wire on top of the soil. Your plants will grow through the openings, but cats won't be able to dig. Unlike various types of plastic spike mats that can bruise the cat's paws, this method is harmless to the cat. If the cat jumps into a raised bed, the chicken wire won't hurt its foot pads the way raised spikes might. The cat will instantly realize its access to dirt is blocked by the wire.

  1. Cut the wire 1" longer and wider than the raised bed.
  2. Bend the wire so it will slip into the space between the dirt and frame.
  3. You may prefer to cut the wire the exact size needed and secure along the sides with dirt, a few bricks, rocks or pebbles.
  4. You can also use chicken wire for in-ground beds and secure with potted plants, rocks, stones, or garden statues.

Aluminum Foil Can Keep Cats Away

Cats are easily spooked, especially by noise and light. Aluminum foil provides both. It's light weight, but very noisy and shiny. You can place a few sheets around your plants, careful not to generate too much reflective heat. You can also tie a string along the sides of a raised bed or garden row and suspend aluminum foil from it by crimping one side of the long sheeting over the string. The aluminum foil will fall beneath the string and rustle under the slightest breeze.

Supplies to String Alumium Foil

  • Roll of lightweight aluminum foil
  • String or twine
  • 4" - 12" or taller stakes
  • Hammer
  • Measuring tape


  1. Measure the length of the bed or row.
  2. Measure the width of the aluminum foil
  3. Measure the height need for stakes so foil is 1"-2" off the ground.
  4. Drive stakes into the ground on both sides of the raised bed or row.
  5. Cut the string or twine long enough to tie onto each end of the stakes on each side.
  6. Remove the roll of aluminum from the box.
  7. Slowly unroll the aluminum foil with the length running along the string.
  8. Crimp the top edge of the aluminum foil over the string so the width hangs down from the string. This process will go faster if you work with a partner to hold the roll while you crimp the foil.
  9. Continue crimping the foil over the string until you've reached the end of the side of the raised bed or end of the row. Repeat on the other side.
  10. Use smaller lengths of foil to seal off the two ends the same way you did the lengths.
  11. Make sure the aluminum foil has a little excess along the line so it will make plenty of noise under the slightest breeze.
  12. Make sure the reflection of the aluminum doesn't create too much heat that could harm your plants.
  13. Another technique is to unroll the aluminum foil on the ground between rows, anchoring it on each end.
Foil across raised garden bed

Redirect Cats With a New Sandbox

Cats love to use their claws to scratch trees and to dig in your garden. The latter is usually associated with using your garden as a natural litter box. You can divert this type of behavior by providing a sandy area away from your garden to entice the cats to do their business there instead of your garden.

Using the New Sandbox

There's no guarantee that the cats will be drawn to their new sandbox, but it may be worth the effort of creating one if it keeps them out of your garden. You'll need to clean their outdoor sandbox regularly.

Gravel, Rocks and Plastic Mulch

You can use gravel or rocks in garden beds to cover the soil so cats can't dig. If you grow vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, red tomato mulch (plastic) is used to increase production and also serves as a good barrier against digging cats. Another type of sheeting is a weed blocking mulch that can serve as a deterrent.

Motion Activated Devices

You can install a motion activated sprinkler system that is triggered whenever a cat or other animal crosses in front of the sensor. Another motion activated repellent is an infrared sensor that detects motion and emits an intense ultrasonic sound/signal that only animals can hear.

Sprinkler in a yard

Deter Cats From Raiding Garbage Cans

If cats are raiding your garbage cans, chances are other animals are, too. The easiest solution is to secure your garbage so it can't be accessed.

  • Roll the bin into your garage until trash day.
  • Weight the garbage can lid with a brick, block or stone.
  • Use a better garbage can with a secure lid, like the type municipalities use where the lid is hinged, overlaps on the opposite side and must be lifted to open.

Determine Origin of Cats

Cats raid garbage cans for only one reason, hunger. If you know your neighbors, inquire if the mischievous cats are theirs or another neighbor's pets. If the cats are feral, you have the option of taking them under your wing and feeding them regularly or trapping and turning them over to local animal control, which means the cats will most likely be euthanized.

Cat Proof Outside Your Home

There are many reasons cats infringe on your space aside from seeking food. They also seek shelter not just from inclement weather but from predators. Check your property for possible hiding/sheltering areas, such as underneath a porch or deck. You can secure these areas with barriers.

Cat Hiding In Backyard

Use Repellents to Keep Cats Away

You can try any of the commercial repellents designed to emit odors cats find offensive. Howver, you may prefer a more natural method with essential oils and create your own cat repellents with a few drops on cotton balls. You can also plant herbs, such as peppermint, lemon balm, rosemary, and lavender since cats don't like these scents.

How to Keep Cats Away from Your Yard

Whether you are trying to protect a garden or landscaped yard, there are several ways you can keep cats from lingering on your property. You may discover you need a combination of several techniques to be effective.

How to Keep Cats Away From Your Yard