How to Stop Possums Eating Your Garden

Written By:
Scott Carroll
Published On:
April 3, 2023
Possum in your garden

If you have a garden, you know the joys of watching it flourish and grow. Unfortunately, it can also attract unwanted visitors, such as possums. These cute, furry creatures may look harmless, but they can wreak havoc on your garden by eating your plants, fruits, and vegetables.

What do possums eat in the garden?

Possums are known to eat a range of foods in the garden, including fruits, vegetables, leaves, flowers, and even bark. Some of their favourite garden treats include:

  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries
  • Apples
  • Grapes. 

They may also eat nuts, seeds, and insects in the garden. Possums are opportunistic feeders, meaning they will eat whatever food they can. This is why preventing possums from accessing your garden and eating your plants is important.

Signs of Possum Damage

Possums are notorious for their destructive eating habits. Some signs of possum damage include:

  • Leaves and fruits missing from plants
  • Plants partially or completely eaten
  • Scratches on tree trunks and branches
  • Broken stems and branches

If you notice any of these signs, possums are likely the culprit.Possum at night

How to stop possums eating my plants

There are several methods you can employ to stop possums from getting into your garden; these include:

  1. Sprays
  2. Fences and barriers 
  3. Sounds 
  4. Smells
  5. Lighting
  6. Habitat modification 

Below, we’ll walk you through what is involved in each of these methods so you understand what best works for you and your garden. 

1. Sprays 

Sprays are one of the most common methods used to deter possums from gardens. These sprays work by emitting a scent that possums find unpleasant, deterring them from entering the garden.

Different types of sprays are available in the market designed to repel possums. Some of the popular options include:

  • Pepper sprays: These sprays contain capsaicin, which makes peppers spicy. Possums find the scent of pepper spray unpleasant and will avoid areas where it has been applied.
  • Predator urine sprays: These sprays contain urine from predators such as coyotes, foxes, and wolves. The scent of these predators is known to deter possums and other animals.
  • Essential oil sprays: Essential oils such as peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella have a strong scent that possums find unpleasant. These oils can be mixed with water and sprayed around the garden.

To use sprays to deter possums, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the areas where possums are entering the garden.
  2. Apply the spray to these areas, making sure to cover them thoroughly.
  3. Reapply the spray every few days or after rain to keep the scent strong.
  4. Avoid spraying the spray directly onto plants or fruits, as this can affect their growth and flavour.
  5. Wear gloves and protective clothing when applying sprays, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe use.

2. Fences and barriers 

Installing a fence is one of the most effective ways to prevent possums from entering your garden. A fence should be at least 6 feet tall and made of materials that possums cannot climb, such as metal or brick. Ensure the fence is buried at least 6 inches into the ground to prevent possums from digging under it.

Another way to protect your garden is by using netting. Cover your plants with netting to prevent possums from reaching them. Make sure the netting is securely fastened to the ground to prevent possums from crawling under it.

3. Sounds

Using sound to deter possums from your garden can be useful as well, as they are sensitive to certain noises and will avoid areas where they hear these sounds. There are a few different sound systems that you can set up to deter possums, including:

  • Ultrasonic devices: These devices emit high-frequency sounds that are inaudible to humans but can be heard by possums. The sound is designed to be unpleasant to possums and can be used to create a sonic barrier around your garden.
  • Loud noises: Possums are sensitive to loud and sudden noises, so setting up a system that creates loud sounds when possums are detected can be an effective deterrent. This could include using motion-activated sprinklers or placing objects that create noise when they move (such as wind chimes or aluminium cans) around the garden.
  • Radio or music: Some gardeners have found that playing music or talk radio at night can effectively deter possums. The noise may be enough to make them feel uncomfortable and avoid the area.

To set up a sound system to deter possums, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the areas where possums are entering the garden.
  2. Choose a sound system that you think will work best for your situation.
  3. Install the system in the areas where possums are entering, ensuring it covers the entire area.
  4. Test the system to make sure that it is working correctly and that the sound is audible to possums.
  5. Use the system consistently, as possums may become accustomed to the sound over time.

4. Smells

Possums have a strong sense of smell; they find certain scents unpleasant and will avoid them. Here are some smells that can deter possums and how to implement them in your garden:

  • Mothballs: Possums dislike the strong smell of mothballs, and scattering them around the garden can help to keep them away. However, mothballs are toxic and should not be used where children or pets may come into contact with them.
  • Ammonia: The smell of ammonia is also unpleasant to possums. Soaking rags in ammonia and placing them in areas where possums are entering the garden can effectively deter them. However, ammonia is toxic and should be used with caution.
  • Garlic and chilli peppers: Possums do not like the strong smell of garlic and the spiciness of chilli peppers. Planting these around the garden can help to deter them, and they also have the added benefit of repelling other pests.

To implement these smells into your garden, follow these steps:

  1. Identify the areas where possums are entering the garden.
  2. Choose the smell that you think will work best for your situation.
  3. Scatter the chosen smell around the areas where possums are entering.
  4. Reapply the smell every few days or after rain to ensure that the scent remains strong.
  5. Use the smell consistently, as possums may become accustomed to the scent over time.

5. Lighting 

Lighting can also be an effective way to deter possums from your garden. Possums are nocturnal animals and prefer to forage in the dark, so bright lighting can disrupt their feeding patterns and discourage them from entering your garden. Here are some tips for using lighting to deter possums:

  1. Install motion-activated lights: These lights will only turn on when possums or other animals enter the garden and can startle them.
  2. Use floodlights: Floodlights provide bright, constant lighting that can help to deter possums. However, consistent lighting can also attract other pests like insects and rodents.
  3. Use solar lights: Solar lights are a more eco-friendly option and can still provide enough lighting to deter possums.
  4. Position the lights strategically: Place them in areas where possums are entering the garden or causing the most damage. Avoid shining lights directly into the eyes of possums, as this can disorient them and cause them to panic.
  5. Use timers: If you don’t want to leave the lights on all night, use timers to turn them on and off at specific times.

6. Habitat Modification

Possums are attracted to gardens because of the abundance of food and shelter. By removing these attractions, you can discourage possums from entering your garden. Some ways to modify the possum’s habitat include:

  • Removing fallen fruits and nuts from the ground
  • Removing brush piles and other potential hiding spots
  • Trimming tree branches that are close to your roof

Key considerations before setting up your possum deterrents 

Before setting up any possum deterrents in your garden, there are several key considerations that you should keep in mind. These include:

  1. Local laws and regulations: In some areas, possums are a protected species, and harming or trapping them may be illegal. Before setting up any deterrents, check with your local authorities to ensure you are not breaking any laws.
  2. Safety: Some possum deterrents, such as mothballs and ammonia, can be toxic to humans and pets. Be sure to read the labels, use these products cautiously, and always keep them out of reach of children and pets.
  3. Effectiveness: Not all possum deterrents are equally effective, and what works in one situation may not work in another. Consider the severity of your possum problem, your garden’s layout, and the possums’ behaviour in your area before choosing a deterrent.
  4. Environmental impact: Some possum deterrents, such as pesticides and herbicides, can negatively affect the environment and other wildlife. Choose environmentally friendly and safe deterrents for other animals and plants in your garden.
  5. Cost: Some possum deterrents, such as electronic sound systems or motion-activated lights, can be expensive. Consider your budget before investing in these products, and weigh the cost against the potential benefits.
  6. Maintenance: Some possum deterrents require regular maintenance, such as reapplying smells or replacing batteries in electronic devices. Consider the time and effort required to maintain your chosen deterrent before setting it up.

By keeping these considerations in mind, you can choose the most effective and safe possum deterrents for your garden and ensure that you are following local laws and regulations.