The Q&A Archives: My Garden's become a litter box!

Question: Hello: I've just recently planted various seeds in my flower beds which are mostly annuals (a lot of them have started sprouting to my dismay). I'm still in my first year here in south Texas and thought that you're supposed to plant seeds in the fall (being now). In any case, sprouted or not, I just discovered that neighborhood cats are using it as a litter box and trampling all over the seedlings and my tomato plants. What is the best solution for this problem? I've heard that a mix of cayenne pepper, ground mustard and flower sprinkled over the area is good, but what if it were to rain...does that weaken its affectiveness? Also, will mothballs help? Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for your help!

Answer: You can't blame cats for wanting to dig in fresh, sweet soil, but it can be bothersome to have them digging in your flower bed. Cats are creatures of habit. The key is to break that habit by making their experience in your flower bed an unpleasant one. You can put up a temporary barrier until they learn not to visit your garden, or you can place decorative stone or large pieces of bark over the soil surface between your plants to keep cats from digging. An inexpensive deterrent consists of stakes placed around your flower bed with nylon fishing line strung from stake to stake. Keep the line about 6" above the soil surface and make sure it criss-crosses every 8". Cats entering the bed will quickly exit because they'll be afraid of getting their legs caught. Once the cats associate fear with being near the flower bed, they'll stop visiting. Hope this helps!

As for seed planting, it's usually best to wait until spring. There are some annuals and perennials which will self-sow and their seeds will lie dormant in the soil until spring, but if you are intentionally planting seeds, spring is the best time to do so

Best wishes with your garden!

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