Thursday Thirteen: 13 Eco & Cat-Friendly Gardening Tips
As the weather heats up, many of us are spending a lot of time in our gardens, and often, our cats share that time with us. They seem born to be "garden supervisors." Here are thirteen tips to optimize your garden for the enjoyment and safety of your cat.
- If you have a yard, you can install cat fencing that will allow your cats to enjoy the outdoors while fully contained within the fence's boundaries.
- Ban pesticides, fungicides, herbicides and all those other -cides from your garden. Cats are especially susceptible to these hazardous poisons. They often eat grass and weeds, they can pick up pesticides on their paws and fur, which they then ingest while grooming. Cats can often be seen lapping up the runoff from a watered lawn -- which could contain a cocktail of poisons.
- To keep weeds at bay, lay down Landscape Fabric atop prepared soil, then follow directions for planting. The fabric version I have lasts ten years, and it does a fabulous job of keeping weeds at bay. It takes a bit of effort to set up, but you can almost say goodbye to weeding for the next decade and obviate the need for weed killers.
- To keep pests at bay, consider buying ladybugs to eradicate aphids and other insects.
- Encourage bats to nest and roost on your property by providing bat houses.
One bat can consume 500 to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour. Bat Houses are available through Amazon or often, at a good lawn and garden center.
- Are bats too creepy for you? Installing owl boxes will provide you with additional ways to reduce the insect population, and also keep the population of rodents down: a family of Barn owls can eat 3000 rodents in one breeding season.
- Plant catmint (Look forNepeta cataria.) It's a lovely perennial with lavender blossoms and grey-green leaves that is irresistible to cats. It's drought-tolerant and withstands quite a bit of neglect and feline abuse.
- Slug Bait is one of the worst poisons you can introduce to your garden. It is not only lethal to cats, but to birds and other animals as well. Many non-toxic solutions exist (beer bait, copper, Diatomaceous Earth, etc.), so try them out. Your cat and your ecosystem will thank you.
- Avoid toxic plants in your garden. There's a list on the ASPCA's site. Lilies are probably the most common and one of the worst (even their pollen is toxic to cats). Consult the ASPCA's list before adding to your garden.
- Avoid Cocoa Mulch. Although it's less a danger to cats than dogs, a cat laying in a warm spot atop cocoa mulch will get some on her fur, and she'll lick it off while grooming.
- As you plan your garden landscape, note where the sun falls in your garden, and utilize some of those sunny areas for you cat to nap. Providing dirt or gravel to roll in with nearby catmint will keep your cat content and happy.
- Eliminate standing water. It presents two hazards to cats: 1) Cats will drink it, and it could make them very sick; 2) It provides a breeding ground for mosquitos, which can lead to heartworm in your cat.
- Always wear gloves when gardening. If you have outdoor cats (or there are outdoor cats in your neighborhood), they love nothing better than to bury their poop in a soft mound of fresh potting soil. You can't enjoy your garden when you're suffering from toxoplasmosis.