Keep cats out of the garden

Cat poo in the garden is annoying enough; finding the poo adhered to the bottom of your shoe is outrageous.  For those of us extremely allergic to cats, having them suddenly appear while working on hands and knees is particularly unsettling.  Before you reach for toxic moth balls or chemical pellets to keep wondering feline at bay, try some of these flowers as borders.  They have been proven to block the egress of cats into the garden (or yard).  Plant them close so their foliage touches, making no easy path in for the cat to get in.  The listing is in order of plant height.


Lemon-thyme is a low growing herb, reaching less than a foot in height.  It can spread up to 24 inches and is planted in full sun.  Its lavender colored flowers appear in mid-summer, attracting bees and butterflies.  The aromatic foliage deters cats.  Lemon-thyme can be dug up and divided in the spring.  Spreads easily, to the point of becoming invasive if left alone.  Makes a nice sidewalk border. Image courtesy of Magnus Manske


The zonal germanium can grow to about 18 inches tall and come in a wide variety of colors for sun to partial shade.  Plant 12 to 18 inches apart.  You can clip off the dead heads, encouraging more blooms.  The flower will bloom repeatedly during the summer months. 


Rue is an ornamental herb also known as Jackman’s Blue, Herb of Grace and Common Rue.  Rue grows 18 to 24 inches tall in full sun.  You can plant rue from seed about 18 inches apart.  Rue has yellow blooms that show in mid-summer that are loved by the black swallowtail caterpillar.  People with sensitive skin should be cautious around rue.  A snapped stem can release oil on your skin, which can cause blistering when exposed to sunlight.  Because of the potential of skin blisters, you might want to consider this plant only for the area of the garden where you don’t have to step over it. Image courtesy of Kurt Stüber.

English Lavender

English Lavender is a highly scented herb growing 18 to 24 inches tall.  Plant from seed or pot 12- to 24 inches apart in full sun.  The highly fragrant lavender color blooms appear in midsummer and are appealing to birds, bees and butterflies.  English lavender does well planted in pots.  The spent flower buds can be dried for potpourri or sachets.


Wormwood, also known as Artemisia absinthium, is a sun-loving herb that can grow up to 3 feet tall.   Plant from seed about two feet apart.  Its yellow-green blooms appear in late summer to early fall.  Absinthe self-seeds, spreading quickly and has been classified as invasive.  If you snip the deadheads, you can control seeding.  The foliage is evergreen, grayish in color and aromatic. Image courtesy of David.Monniaux.