Friday, September 24, 2010

Keep Stray Cats Out of Yard and Garden

Keep cats out of your yard and garden by using humane methods rather than acts of cruelty. 

A few years ago a client of mine was having problems with neighborhood cats that would enter her yard during the night and lounge on her patio furniture, use her plant containers as a litter box and mark her flower gardens. Needless to say my client had had it with the cats and was ready to kill them. 

I offered my pest control services to remove the cats from her property without harming a hair on their furry little heads and she accepted my contract.

Stray cat on Deck Image by Sgolis

In order to permanently remove the neighborhood cats from the yard I needed to determine why they cats marked her yard as their territory. 

I took a journal and walked through her entire yard and discovered that my client’s yard was a cat habitat. 

There was overgrown shrubs with clumps of blue fescue ornamental grass that would provide shelter and bedding for the cats.  Her deck also provided protection as it was in a location where the wind was blocked and the cats could get under the deck to set up house.  Her yard was a cat sanctuary as it had shelter, reliable water source, and food source from the pet bowl that was left out overnight. 

I made a note of the tasks that needed to be completed. I was certain that if I manicured her yard by pruning shrubs, low hanging tree branches and cutting back the brush it would deter many cats.  My plan was simple; I would make her yard and gardens uninviting and I would remove the food source.

Make your yard unappealing to cats by manicuring your lawn, garden and pruning shrubs.  

Remove all of the brush and you will remove the comfortable hiding places.  

Purchase poultry netting or chicken wire. Cut it so that it fits around your plants in your gardens and your ornamental shrubs.  

Apply mulch on top of the chicken wire.  This method is affective because when cats go to dig for a place to their business the wire will annoy them.   Cats do not like walking on chicken wire and after a few tries they will learn that this area is off limits.

Remove the food source by feeding pets indoors and emptying the water bowl at night.  If you have a water fountain, shut it off at night so there is no running water.  If you have a small pond, spread a large layer of chicken wire across the top of the pond and secure the wire with hooked stakes that are pounded into the ground or set the edge of the wire under large rocks that are located at the ponds side.  

The idea is to prevent the cats from getting to your water source or foraging from your pond.  Koi fish will attract cats to your yard.  A hungry cat will move to another location when food source in eliminated.

Peppermint plant
Grow herbs that naturally repel cats.  I found that peppermint, spearmint, lemongrass, geranium, rue, lavender, garlic, onions and thyme are plants that emit a scent that is revolting to cats.  

Cats tend to avoid the areas in the yard where these herbs grow.  For an effective barrier you would need to grow these plants in several areas of your yard.  The idea is make the cats uncomfortable.  

Choose a sunny location and plant a representation of these herbs.  You may want to grow them along the fence, in the same location where the cats generally enter your yard.  You may also want to grow these herbs in containers and set them close to your patio or outdoor living space.  These fragrant herbs are an effective method for keeping cats out of your yard.

Keep cats out of your yard by marking your yard and gardens with Shake Away Cat Repellent Coyote/Fox Urine . If you treat the perimeter of your yard with the shake away for cats they will pick up the scent and will avoid your yard.  However not all cats are afraid of predator urine.  Many housecats do not have the sense of scent and thus do not fear the scent of fox or coyote.  

I have used this product and it has proven to be useful in repelling feral and woodland cats.   The best way to apply this product is to use it sparingly in yard and garden.  Shake the granular treatment on the shrubs, trees, fence post, a container, or anywhere that a coyote of fox would mark.  I apply the shake-away by marking a barrier around my yard.  The product is effective as long as it does not get wet. 

Cats keep cool on brick patio:  Image Sgolis
Another way to keep cats out of your yard and gardens is to purchase a Contech  Scarecrow Motion Activated Sprinkler.   

This cat prevention is easy to install and it gets the job done.  Cats are afraid of water and when the cat comes within 1000 feet of the scarecrow the cat gets wet. 

The scarecrow water sprinkler is a great method for keeping cats out of your yard and garden however if you are in a water restricted area this sprinkler may not be right for you.  In this case you may want to get rid of the cats by using a motion activated ultrasonic  animal repellent.  For this animal repellent you will need to install in a location where the cats frequent.  

This product needs to be at least three feet off the ground. You can mount on garden stake, the side of your garage, tree or fence post. The high frequency alarm is a good way to stop cats from marking or hanging out in your yard and garden.  This product works as long as you put them in the right location and have enough alarms to provide protection for your entire yard.  You may need two in the backyard and one in the front yard.


  • Before you implement any cat deterrents it is best to determine if the cats hanging out in your yard are stray, feral or house cats. If you have cats frequenting you yard I would suggest that you ask your neighbors if they know of the owner of the cat or cats that are camping out in your yard. 
  • I find the best way to remove cats from your yard is to make your yard uncomfortable and not welcoming to cats.
  • I did not block the entrance under the deck because of the life factor.  A cat could be hiding under the deck and I would have no way of knowing.  
  • If you suspect a cat is living under your deck you may want to set up a trap to catch the cat and then release the cat away from your yard or surrender to a no kill shelter.  
  • Never attempt to crawl under a deck, there may be a raccoon or feral cat living there and they could attack you. If you are bitten you will need to undergo rabies treatment. 
  •  Many people repel stray cats with mothballs.  This repellent is toxic to cats.  If the cats should touch the mothball with their paw and then lick their paw the cat will become seriously ill; vomiting, abdominal pain, organ failure, swelling of the brain, seizures, coma and death.  This is not a humane way of repelling cats. 


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Spring Bulb Container Tips

A spring bulb container garden is a nice way to welcome guests to your home. Container gardens are a good choice for people who have a small yard or live in apartments; you can easily grow a variety of spring bulbs to enjoy even if you have limited space.  Bulb container gardens are easy to maintain, all you need is a container with drainage, potting soil, bulb fertilizer, water and sunshine.   


Choose a container that meets your needs; ample room for your flowers to grow and water drainage holes.  You will also need a high quality potting soil and fertilizer.

Buy spring bulbs from online nurseries or from your local garden store.  If you shop online always buy the plant that has the highest rating and approving customer reviews.  Choose an eye appealing bulb arrangement for your container, some people like to grow all the same spring flowers; red tulips, yellow daffodils, fragrant hyacinths and cheerful crocus mix.  While others grow a variety of spring blooming flowers; red Impression, golden Apeldoorn and Daydream orange tulips will look stunning when grown with purple muscari or a daffodils grown with white wood hyacinths or paperwhites.

When planning your spring bulb containers consider all the growing stages of spring, such as early, mid, and late spring bulbs. For a container garden for a full season of color, you should purchase a few varieties of spring bulbs such as: daffodils, tulips, or grape hyacinth and crocus. 


Plant the bulbs at the right depth, the general rule is double the size of your bulb and that is how deep you would plant it.

Grow bulb containers indoors on a southern windowsill or you can grow with artificial lights.

Make several bulb containers and keep them over winter in your greenhouse.  In spring when the flowers begin to grow give the container gardens to friends and family as gifts or sell them at farmers market or church bazaar. Growing spring bulb containers for profit would be a great part time business. 

Learn more about growing bulbs in containers by viewing this You Tube video:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Prevent Autumn Leaf-Mold Allergies

I am allergic to autumn leaves, primarily the mold content that forms on the leaves. Spring and fall are my busy times in the yard however both seasons make me ill from allergies. 

If you suffer from allergies then beware of breathing in the fresh autumn air. The crisp autumn air with the fresh scent has particles from fallen leaves, ragweed and mold spores and these irritants are allergy triggers.

If you suffer from an allergic reaction while you are working in a yard and garden it will make your day miserable. 

Over the years I learned how to control my autumn allergies. My allergist told me to avoid outdoor  when the wind is blowing and on days where that are damp with no sunshine. 

If I must be outdoors I try to plan my activity wisely by watching the weather in my area and I note the pollen count.  I find that after there is a hard rain that I have no allergy symptoms.  The rain has a cleansing affect on the environment. 

Sometimes I work around the peak allergen days by staying inside and work on my garden designs, other times I will mask to cover your nose and mouth and I will take  a natural antihistamine to control allergy symptoms.  

Of course there is always a client that wants their gardens cleaned up on a high pollen day and then I will wear a respirator mask, spray my nose and take natural allergy medication. If you suffer from autumn leaf allergies you need to take steps to control your symptoms otherwise you will miss a beautiful season and lost income.

It is helpful to rinse your nose when you come indoors.  The rinse will remove all allergens from your nasal passages and will help your to breath better.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Growing Daffodils From Bulbs

The daffodil is a Narcissus and is a hardy spring blooming herbaceous perennial in the Amaryllis family.  Daffodils comes in many varieties and ranges in colors from yellow, white, peach and light shades of pink and bi-colors too.  Some daffodils will bloom in early, middle and late spring.  There is also a daffodil that will bloom in the summer (Summer Cheer (Narcissus Erlecheer). If you love daffodils then plant the bulbs in the autumn and enjoy them the following spring.

A few years ago I did a naturalized planting of Trumpet daffodils mixed with purple and white crocus and grape hyacinths.  The trumpet is the most popular daffodils as the flower is giant sized and looks sensational when grown in masses.  Due to the size of the trumpets; stems are 15 to 18 inches, I tossed the bulbs on my side slope and planted them where they landed.  This naturalized garden is my favorite; it is just beautiful on a sunny spring day.

Another way to benefit from the beautiful spring bulb is to plant them in containers.   Plant yellow daffodils mixed with early blooming crocus and purple grape hyacinths or red tulips.  Set the containers at your home or business entrance.   The containers in spring are eye appealing and a cheerful way to greet guests. 

Learn more about growing daffodil bulbs in containers by viewing this YouTube video:

Instructions for Growing Daffodils

Buying Daffodil Bulbs: 
Buy Dutch daffodil bulbs at your local garden center or form an online nursery. If you shop online check their return policy. If you buy locally look at bulbs make sure that the bulbs are firm, no soft spots or mold.  Big bulbs are better than small bulbs.  Bulbs with divisions are best.

Where to Plant 
Narcissus Sempre Avanti
Choose a garden site that has full sun and well-drained soil. Daffodils planted in a naturalized garden such as a meadow or fields are beautiful, however you cannot mow this area until the end of May, so choose your growing site wisely.   Daffodils are also are eye appealing when planted along sidewalks, garden path, at your entrance, along patios and around trees.

How to Plant Daffodils
Clear your garden site of weeds, rocks and sod.   Loosen the soil to ten inches. For massive plantings use your tiller to break the ground.  Amend the soil with compost or other organic matter.  Dig a hole that is double the size of the bulb.  Set the pointy side up and flat root side of the daffodil bulb on the soil. Space the bulbs by planting six bulbs per square foot. Cover the bulbs with soil.  Water the daffodil bulbs after all have been planted.

Caring for Daffodils
Care for your daffodil bulbs by watering them throughout the autumn only if there is no rain.  Allow the ground to dry out before you water.  If your spring is dry water the daffodils and fertilize in early spring with formula suitable for bulbs.  Feed the daffodils before you see new growth.  Allow the foliage to die back naturally.  When the foliage withers and turn brown then you can cut back to the soil line.  Fertilize your daffodil bulb gardens every fall with bonemeal.


The daffodil is a Narcissus plant. This plant is a hardy spring blooming herbaceous perennial in the Amaryllis family.

Daffodils must die back naturally and cutting them back too soon will decrease their ability to bloom the following spring.

Allow adequate time for the daffodil roots to grow, Plant daffodil bulbs ten weeks before a hard frost.
The daffodil flower is long-lived 30-50 years.

If you reside in area where there is wildlife you will not need to worry about the daffodil bulbs as squirrel and deer do not eat them.  However they may dig them up so check your spring bulbs throughout the winter months.

The daffodil is easy to bulb to grow, a perfect flower for beginner gardeners.  Once the daffodil is established in your yard they will bloom every spring.

Daffodils need a hard freeze and winter weather for a minimum of 6 weeks to bloom in spring. 

Daffodils can be forced to grow indoors.  Learn more by viewing this YouTube video: