Gravel is great. It hides a multitude of sins. Unfortunately, that’s not all it hides. When your neighbour’s cats make their way into your garden you may find that they use your gravel to disguise something distinctly unpleasant that they’ve left in their wake.
Gardeners use gravel for a variety of reasons. It can neaten up a well-trodden path that’s become worse for wear and make it look neat and pristine. It can add accents to your landscaping. It can be the perfect covering for driveways and makes the perfect use as a base for your patio. However, when your neighbours have cats, gravel can be problematic…
The Catveat of Using Gravel
The trouble with using gravel in your garden is that it can be extremely attractive to cats. After all, it looks almost exactly like cat litter, it’s easy to dig and allows them to discreetly bury the smelly vestiges of their visit. As versatile and beautiful as gravel can be, it can also be an open invitation for your neighbourhood’s cats to use your garden as a litter tray and take turns marking your garden as their territory.
When a cat feels at home in your garden, it won’t be shy about showing it. It can reduce your flower bed to tatters, scratch its way up your trees or garden furniture and use your climbing plants as a climbing frame.
The good news, however, is that you don’t need to choose between keeping a cat-free garden and using gravel. The kind of gravel you use can go a long way towards keeping kitty at bay!
What Size Gravel to Deter Cats?
The first thing you’ll need to consider is the size of the gravel you use. As charming and versatile as 10mm pea shingle is, this kind is especially attractive to cats. Its diminutive size makes it easy for them to dig, bury and play in while its round shape makes it comfortable for them to walk on.
You’ll need something a little bigger to prevent them from digging and playing in your gravelled areas. Of course, this means that you’ll need to strike a balance between the size of your gravel and your comfort when walking on it. A good rule of thumb is to use 20mm if you intend to walk on it and 40mm if you don’t (although the latter can be harder to come by).
But Size isn’t Everything
It’s important to remember that the size of your gravel is not the only thing you need to consider. The shape also plays an important part. Sharper, rougher, pointier pieces will keep cats away but will lock together when walked on by a human.
Look at the gravel you have and consider whether or not your would be happy walking on it bare-footed. If you think it would be painful then chances are a cat will also find it quite uncomfortable. If, however, the gravel has smooth rounded edges then they probably won’t be too fussy about strolling across it.
Treating your Gravel
To be on the safe side it may be a good idea to treat areas of gravel (especially those which have been visited by cats before) with a homemade repellent spray made from water, ground cinnamon, black pepper, mustard powder, crushed garlic and lemon oil (get full details here).
This will ensure that your gravel remains forever free of unwanted feline attention and hopefully will prevent cats from pooping in your gravelled areas.