To prevent cats from damaging a garden a combination of techniques and tools, including repellents, barriers, deterrents and attractants, can be used. A variety of commercial products and homemade remedies effectively minimize cats' damage to gardens.
Some repellent solutions are based on scents known to be repugnant to cats. Scents unpleasant to cats include citrus, Coleus canina, rue and lavender, according to Better Homes & Gardens. Commercial repellents include products that contain the urine of cats' predators, such as coyote. Other scent repellents are based on capsaicin, the chemical in chile peppers.
Barriers such as an electric fence at low voltage help keep cats away from the garden, advises the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. A layer of chicken wire fencing laid on the ground prevents cats from digging, and most plants can easily grow through the wire.
Water is an excellent deterrent to most cats, according to About.com. Sprinklers that activate upon detection of intruders can be effective, as can spraying unwanted cats with a water gun or garden hose.
Cats can be lured away from the garden area or flower bed with a patch of catnip plants grown elsewhere in the yard, explains About.com. Placing a sandbox near the catnip helps entice the cats to use that area for their litter box needs instead of the garden.