Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
1 rating

Monday - March 02, 2009

From: Royse City, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Diseases and Disorders
Title: Keeping dogs and cats out of flower gardens
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Do you have any suggestions to keep the cats and dogs out of my flower garden? They either just walk through it, and trample everything, or sleep on the soft blooms and squish everything. I am desperate. We live in the country and the animals are a necessity.

ANSWER:

Well, as far as Mr. Smarty Plants knows, there aren't any plants that are guaranteed to repel dogs and cats, short of planting everything in long-spined cactus.  Over the years I've read many suggestions on keeping pets out of flower beds and you can see a very good list from the Gardenweb.com forum of methods and products geared toward keeping cats away.  These include both natural and manufactured chemicals (e.g., citrus peels, coffee grounds, moth balls, etc.) and sharp and/or prickly objects (e.g., thorny branches and sweetgum balls on the soil surface or bamboo skewers sticking up in the flower bed).  The chemicals have the disadvantage of dissipating or washing away in the rain, which means that they would have to constantly be replaced.  Additionally, some chemicals, such as moth balls or cayenne pepper, have the potential to harm the animals.  The sharp and spiny objects could also injure the animals (or you) and would need to be monitored constantly to be sure that they were in place.  

The one on the list that sounds the most humane and effective to me is the motion sensor sprinkler.  There are several brands, e.g., Scarecrow and Havahart Spray Away, that function with a 9-volt battery and can detect the animal 35 feet away.  Once detected the animal is hit with a short burst of water at hose pressure.  The noise and the water effectively keeps the animal away from the area.  The sprinkler can cover an area of 1000 feet and uses very little water (Cat Wars! page about one man's experience with Scarecrow, the motion sensor sprinkler, and another electronic device called CatStop that uses ultrasonic sound to keep cats away.

 

More Diseases and Disorders Questions

Fronds turning brown on yucca in Leander, TX
April 13, 2009 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I live Northwest of Austin in Leander and have grown a spanish dagger yucca for several years. It is 8 feet tall and each spring it puts up a showy spike of blooms. The old fr...
view the full question and answer

Live oak with brown balls and brown spots in Round Rock PA
August 01, 2010 - Is my live oak sick? Brown spots are on the leaves and round brown balls are growing on the stems. Please help.
view the full question and answer

Need help with yucca palm in New York City, NY.
November 10, 2011 - I have had my yucca palm plant for almost 10 years. The bark has started to peel off although leaves seem fine. The second smaller separate yucca plant has half its bark and trunk gone. I can't see a...
view the full question and answer

Teucrium resistant to Verticillium Wilt?
April 20, 2015 - Is Teucrium frutescans, or Bush Germander resistant to Verticillium Wilt? I cannot find it on a list anywhere.
view the full question and answer

Trees failing to prosper from Denham Spring LA
December 23, 2013 - I live in Louisiana. Out of all of the native trees that we grow, there are two in particular that always struggle no matter what the conditions are in which they grow. The first one, sassafras, is ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.