This weekend we tackled the case of The State Of Our Planting Beds vs. The Neighborhood Cats. In my previous post seeking advice to keep cats from pooping in my garden it seemed that the winner was to lay down chicken wire which the cats cannot dig through, and therefore they will go elsewhere to do their kitty business. This creates a hassle for people who like to plant a bunch of stuff in their garden, as you have to cut a hole in the chicken wire to plant anything, but we are not big on lawn care and I figure we’ll plant some lavender and a few more shrubs and call it landscaping*.
At first I was not so big on the chicken wire because it sounded like a difficult, scratchy job, so I looked into getting cocoa shell mulch. We took a trip up to Sky Nursery in north Seattle, which had been recommended by a few people. They carry Blommer cocoa mulch, which they told us was washed several times to remove the theobromine (the part that is bad for dogs). (Looking online right now, I’m not finding much saying that Blommer cocoa mulch is safe for dogs.) We priced out cocoa mulch and hazelnut shells for the nearly 200 square feet we need, and at a depth of 3 inches, which is what we’d need to discourage weeds from growing, the price was way more than the value we place on having a nice front garden. So, we went back to chicken wire.
We needed to fight weeds as well as cats but enough mulch to fight weeds would only give cats something to dig into, so we decided to use landscaping fabric as well. We did three layers: landscaping fabric, then chicken wire held down by garden staples, then a single layer of medium bark chips (which look too big to be fun digging material). Right now you can see glints of chicken wire through the bark chips, but from the sidewalk it doesn’t look too bad. For now that will do, I’ve had enough of yard work.
Our very cool neighbors are also battling the cats, and they are saving up for hazelnut shell mulch (they have two dogs, and are understandably unwilling to take chances on cocoa shell mulch). I’ll report back on what works.
* You might ask: If I’m not going to be planting much why should I care if cats poop in my planting bed? Two reasons: there are lots of the damn cats, and the front yard is a Southern exposure. Cat poop + sunshiny heat = stench that makes you feel really sorry for the poor mailman who comes by just around 1 p.m.