What can I plant to deter cats from my yard? The tricks to keep your neighborhood's pets off your property

These plants will naturally deter cats from visiting your yard, while looking good in the process

cat in backyard
(Image credit: Getty)

Regardless of whether you are a cat person or not, there are times when they can a nuisance when visiting your yard. The most popular deterrents are high-pitched, ultrasonic repelling devices, but they can be unpleasant for humans, too. 

Luckily there are some natural solutions to your cat problem that can be implemented in less than a few hours and requires no specialist contactors. Plants. Like many animals, cats are sensitive to certain smells and textures, utilizing these sensitivities is the best way to dissuade cats from making your yard their go-to hang-out spot.

These plant and animal experts revealed some of the top cat-deterring plants for you to plant this weekend. Try out this simple solution for a cat-free yard. 

1.  Coleus Canina 

Nicknamed the scaredy cat plant for a reason, coleus canina is one of the most effective plants at deterring cats. Its unassuming appearance gives nothing away, but this plant is universally hated by cats.

'Coleus Canina plant emits a strong odor that cats find unpleasant, which can discourage them from venturing into your yard,' says veterinary surgeon and cat expert Dr. Katherine Rosalie Dench.

Although repulsive to cats the scent is barely noticeable to humans. Their appearance is hardly offensive either so they won't disrupt your modern garden ideas.

2. Lavender

Whilst most of us simply love the sweet aroma of lavender, the same can't be said for cats. Thankfully this is a low-maintenance plant for front yards that people want to plant, so it's a great coincidence that it deters our unwanted furry friends.

'The fragrant scent of lavender is known to repel cats,' says gardening expert Zahid Adnan. 'Its pleasant aroma for humans and its ability to deter pests, including cats, make it a great choice.'

Cats are sensitive animals and the fragrance produced by the purple flowers is intolerable to them. 'Lavender is known for containing linalool, a compound that cats find repulsive,' explains animal behavior expert Alex Van Der Walt. 'Growing tall varieties of lavender as borders in your garden add beauty and works as a deterrent. In fact, you can even create a homemade spray with lavender essential oil and water for an additional effect.'

Lavender is the ideal plant to deter cats from your outdoor space as it also contributes to creating a beautiful vista and expensive-looking modern front yard.

3. Thorny plants

Deterring cats is all about making the journey in your yard as unattractive as possible. One way to do this is by incorporating plants that have an unfavorable texture.

'Beyond the scent, texture plays a crucial role in deterring cats,' says Alex. 'Geraniums, for instance, have thorny leaves that cats find unpleasant. Even plants from the mint family, such as peppermint and pennyroyal, with their strong fragrances and unique textures, are excellent options.'

Expert gardener Zahid agrees: 'Cats are deterred by plants with prickly or spiky leaves. Consider incorporating plants like holly, rose bushes, or even creating a cactus garden around your yard's borders.'

Strategically placing these types of plants around the perimeter of your property will prevent cats from attempting to access your yard. A natural barrier of dense shrubs is perfect for this.

What else can I do to deter cats?

modern backyard with lawn, gravel, planting and stone sculpture

(Image credit: Greg Thomas Photography/Eden Garden Design)

Cats are drawn to soft soil and plants that they can dig a play in. In order to deter them you need to make your yard no fun for them to play in. Materials such as mulch and gravel are not where cats want to be, so utilizing them in your garden is a great way to deter them from your outdoor areas.

'Cats tend to dislike the texture of certain types of mulch, like pine cones or decorative rocks,' says Katherine, 'plus, a well-mulched garden can make it less appealing for them to dig.'

Not only will mulching have great benefits for your garden, gravel gardens seem to be having a moment in landscape design. Acting as a cat deterrent is only an added bonus.

Amy McArdle
News writer

Amy recently completed an MA in Magazine Journalism at City, University of London, with experience writing for Women’s lifestyle publications across arts, culture, and beauty. She has a particular love for the minimalist aesthetic mixed with mid-century furniture, especially combining unique vintage finds with more modern pieces. Her previous work in luxury jewellery has given her a keen eye for beautiful things and clever design, that plays into her love of interiors. As a result, Amy will often be heard justifying homeware purchases as 'an investment', wise words to live by.