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

Native firebush dying in Sun City Center FL
July 17, 2009 - I have a native firebush, it is suddenly dying branch by branch, from the inside out, I have noticed odd things look like wasps but with speckled wings on it. What could be killing it. The inside bra...
view the full question and answer

Problems with fruit of Mexican Plum from McKinney TX
May 19, 2013 - MY Mexican plum tree (about 5 years old) has small fruit on it. Some of them are severely deformed, and look rotten almost. They are bumpy and ragged looking. Or they are pasty white,rotten and dried ...
view the full question and answer

Dying non-native St. Augustine grass from Austin
May 02, 2013 - Although we all know St. Augustine grass is not a good thing, I am stuck with it and am trying to save areas that appear to have take-all fungus. I have done much reading online and have tried peat m...
view the full question and answer

Need help diagnosing a problem with Bur Oak in Plano, TX
April 28, 2010 - I planted a bur oak 8 or 9 years ago. It has grown beautifully until this year. When opening, the leaves are very small (a couple inches) and there are lots of seeds (catkins?). I would hate to los...
view the full question and answer

Agarita and Mexican Buckeye not flowering or fruiting.
December 11, 2012 - The Greenbelt behind our home has a ton of agarita and Mexican buckeye, but they never bloom or berry. The pigeon berry is very happily doing both all year. Any suggestions for helping the agerita a...
view the full question and answer

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