If you own a pet, dealing with their excrement is just something that has to be done, and with a bit of time and effort, they can be trained to know where to do their business so they stay in your good books.
However, if you don’t own a pet, nothing is more annoying than waking up to find some freshly deposited gifts on your manicured lawn or even worse, in your thriving garden.
Whether it be a neighbourhood dog or cat or some wandering stray, domestic animals can wreak havoc by digging up garden beds, disturbing fertilisers (especially if you are using blood-and-bone), trampling plants, killing wildlife and generally marking out your yard as their own territory.
While manure is a great way to bring some life to your garden, re-invigorating plants and adding nutrients to your soil, it’s not like dog and cat poop can be reused in the garden, simply by digging it in to the earth. Dog and cat faeces contain a multitude of parasites including roundworm, hookworm and tapeworm. The faeces can also contain parasites that cause toxoplasmosis – a disease that can be detrimental to pregnant women with weak immune systems.
Luckily for gardeners, wearing gloves, washing hands and rinsing any harvested crops are good ways to avoid infection. But how do you stop the problem at its source? Here are a few options you can try to keep unwanted dogs and cats out of your garden.
Both dogs and cats hate the smell of citrus oil, mothballs and cayenne pepper. Cats specifically dislike the peels of oranges, lemons, limes, and grapefruit, so place these around any problem spots.
Dogs, meanwhile, hate the smell of citronella oil, vinegar, garlic, pepper and chill, and even soapy water has been known to deter them. A solution of both eucalyptus and tea tree oil is also recommended as a natural deterrent for dogs.
To place these scents around your garden, use a spray bottle to spritz it around fence lines, openings and problem areas. For spices and solid scents, place them strategically around your yard. Just be careful when choosing your solution as both ammonia and mothballs can be harmful to other pets and your garden.
There are also a number of slow release deterrent granules that you can buy from nurseries and pet shops.
If you use animal-based fertiliser on your lawn, you may be inadvertently attracting dogs from all over the neighbourhood. A dog’s sense of smell is so acute, it can smell the fertilisers from miles away.
Blood-and-bone is a particularly potent fertiliser that many dogs love, so avoid it if you have a problem visitor in your neighbourhood. Surprisingly, though, cats are reported to hate the smell of the dried blood found in blood meal fertilisers, so using these in your garden may be a good way to keep the strays at bay.
Dogs and cats will get the surprise of their life when they go to do their business and a stream of water hits them. Motion-activated sprinkler systems are a great choice for deterring unwanted animals from your backyard. The shock of the sprinkler can imprint a bad memory for the animal, encouraging them to stay away. Cats are especially averse to water so it’s a great idea if your problem is of the feline kind.
To make your backyard unattractive to passing cats and dogs, there are a few things you can do. Planting rosemary is a great idea for deterring dogs because they’re known to dislike the smell.
To protect your garden further, lay down some chicken wire just beneath your soil. Dogs and cats will hate treading on the wire surface and will leave your garden beds alone. When you want to plant something new, simply use some wire cutters to open pockets in the mesh and get planting. The mesh will stop dogs from digging up your garden and will even stop rats from burrowing into your soil.
As an alternative, you can get a similar effect to the netting by filling garden beds with sharp lava rocks, old cuttings from rose bushes or thorny plants and pinecones.
Specialist ultrasound devices, bought from many hardware or garden stores, operate on high frequencies that are unbearable for cats. The sounds are not picked up by the human ear and will keep cats out of your yard.
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