by Matt Gibson
If you’re trying to keep snakes out of your garden, we certainly don’t blame you. Unfortunately snakes love to hang out in areas that are covered in a dense array of plants. They are drawn to spots where there is plenty of foliage that can serve as camouflage while they sneak up close enough to their prey to strike. They also prefer densely canopied areas because the coverage provides shade to cool their skins while the weather is warm. Snakes love a location that is an abundant source of food.
Unfortunately, these preferences mean that your garden is most likely a paradise to the eye of both venomous and non-venomous snakes alike. This article will cover the best strategies for keeping these reptilian rascals from making your garden their home.
So what makes your garden such a perfect habitat for snakes? Gardens are usually packed full of plants that cover the ground and provide both shade and plenty of hiding places. Most gardens also have at least one or two beds that are devoted to food production, whether that means fruits or vegetables, and some also have an herb garden. Even gardens that are completely devoted to blossoms and blooms still most likely contain plenty of plants that would make a great meal for a snake. In addition, gardens are usually a hotspot for rodents and other small critters and prey that a snake can add to their feast on if they are not in the mood for simply a light salad.
Luckily, there are steps that gardeners can take to make their yards less attractive to serpents. There are even plants you can grow that will make snakes think twice about making your garden their home—or even just a comfortable place to spend an afternoon.
Read on to learn all about how to keep snakes out of your warm climate garden, and you’ll also pick up a few steps you can take to deter these pests before they become an issue. If you’ve already spotted snakes in your garden beds, this article will teach you a few tricks to send them packing quickly in search of friendlier zones to set up shop.
Tips to Keep Snakes Out of the Garden
Mow and Tidy Up the Lawn
Snakes love nothing more than to slither through tall grass undetected. Piles of rocks, wood, and other debris have lots of crevices and crannies that make a perfect place for snakes to hide between or underneath. Eliminate this allure by cleaning up the ground in your yard, removing any and all unneeded debris, and mowing the grass regularly. Snakes are not likely to stick around your yard when every spot they can find exposes them to the elements. If they were safe and sound under a blanket of grass and debris, and find one day it’s all of a sudden clean and tidy, snakes will pack up and leave in a hurry.
Keep Hedges and Bushes Clean, Too
Small prey, such as mice and frogs, tend to seek out the shelter of hedges, shrubs, or bushes to hide from predators and relax in the shaded areas that these small, ornamental garden fixtures provide. To make these spots less of an all-you-can-eat prey buffet for snakes, clean out the dead leaves and other debris that tends to accumulate underneath bushes and shrubs. If the small prey have no place to hide, they will move on. Once your garden area is lacking small prey for snakes to devour, they will search out places that are more accommodating to their appetites.
Check Structures for Gaps or Holes
Check the foundation around your home for small openings and gaps where snakes and other tiny reptiles can slide in and start setting up homes for their families. Also check for cracks underneath the doors of your garage, tool shed, storm shelter, or other structures on your property. When cleaning up the lawn, pay special attention to clearing debris away from structures as well. Inspect the outside of your home for small holes and cracks, then seal them up for protection against any unwanted houseguests—especially the snakes that are so attracted to these nooks and crannies.
Collect Eggs Before Snakes Have a Chance
Snakes thoroughly enjoy chicken eggs, and they have often been spotted lurking around chicken coops, waiting for the chance to fill up on their favorite protein source. Once snakes have already found your chicken coop and successfully snagged a meal or two made of your chickens’ prized eggs, the snakes will keep returning to see whether another treat is on the menu. If snakes have already infiltrated your chicken house, you may want to move the coop entirely to throw them off course. Alternatively, you can be sure to always collect your eggs regularly and never give a snake the opportunity to feed again. They will eventually get tired of striking out and lose interest in hunting around your chickens and their eggs.
Mulch With Rough, Jagged Materials
No one likes stepping on broken glass or rolling around in a bed of sharp rocks or thorns—and snakes are no different. Their sensitive scales do not like to travel over sharp surfaces. Therefore, one great way to deter garden snakes is to add a top layer of a rough, sharp mulch to your garden beds that they’ll find uninviting. Use natural materials, such as pine cones, sharp rocks, eggshells, or holly leaves, and lay out a surface that no snake would choose to slither across.
Use a Nontoxic Snake Repellent
Repellents are often packed full of potentially harmful chemicals that you don’t want anywhere near the garden where you grow your food. These chemical repellents can also be a problem if you have pets, who are susceptible to harm due to exposure to toxic chemicals because of their small size and tendency to eat whatever they find on the ground. Luckily, there are some nontoxic snake repellents available on the market that will effectively deter snakes from your garden—while at the same time keeping your pets, friends, family, and yourself safe from exposure to harmful chemicals and toxins.
Granular snake repellent can be sprinkled all around the garden, along the sidewalk, and around the foundation of the house. It can also be used to create a barrier around any structure that you want to deter snakes from entering. Treat your garden and other high-traffic areas on your property with granular snake repellent once every two to three weeks until your yard has been free of snake sightings for a while.
Target Other Pests
Most snakes are predators. They survive off of small prey, such as mice, moles and rats, as well as an array of insects, including crickets, grasshoppers, snails and slugs. If your garden area is free from the small prey and insects that snakes love to eat, they will have no reason to stick around and starve. Once you get rid of snakes’ prey, they will go somewhere else in search of more abundant sources of food.
Natural Snake Repellent Plants to Keep Them Away
Luckily, gardeners have access to some of the best weapons out there when it comes to fighting unwanted garden visitors. We’re talking about the plants that have evolved to repel pests on their own in various ways, such as with strong odors or sharp thorns and leaves. The four plants we’ve listed below are great choices to keep snakes moving along past your garden. Choosing one or two of these snake-repellent plants may do the trick to prevent a snake infestation from occurring, but growing all four of these plants should do the trick to keep snakes away and send any current reptilian garden occupants slithering away in search of some new digs.
West Indian lemongrass produces a strong citrus smell that deters snakes. The pungent aroma that lemongrass creates (similar to lemon) doesn’t just work as a natural snake repellent to ward off serpents, though. It can also drive away pesky mosquitoes and even disease-carrying ticks. As if you needed any more reasons to add lemongrass to your garden arsenal, it’s also drought resistant, easy to grow, and its foliage makes it a pleasant addition to any garden.
Onions and Garlic:
Onion (Allium cepa) and garlic plants (Allium sativum) that are a member of the onion family emit a smell that is not only unpleasant to snakes, it also disorients them. Garlic, especially, is effective at fending off snakes. As they slide over a clove’s papery husk, the oily residue of the garlic gets on their skin, and this oil affects the snake in the same way slicing an onion affects a sensitive-eyed chef. Snakes react to garlic oil as if it were pepper spray. They will leave your property quickly, and likely take the memory with them as a lasting reminder of why they should not return. Society garlic, grown as a flower, is also effective because of its strong smell.
Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, the snake plant is a great garden addition as a way to keep snakes away. Just the sight of this plant’s sharp leaves and striking appearance is actually said to frighten snakes away from the general vicinity where it grows.
The marigold has a deep-growing and aggressive root system that emits a smell that keeps snakes moving along, and it has the same effect on many other garden pests, such as gophers and moles. The brightly colored flowers, strong scents and pungent aroma attract beneficial insects and pollinators, like birds, butterflies, and bees, while driving away pests large and small.
While there isn’t strong scientific evidence to support the claim that citronella repels snakes, it is commonly believed by some gardeners that it might help keep them at bay. Citronella is a plant known for its strong, lemony scent, which is widely used as a natural insect repellent, particularly against mosquitoes. The oil extracted from citronella is a popular ingredient in candles, sprays, and other products designed to ward off insects. Although its efficacy against snakes remains unconfirmed, citronella is a versatile and low-maintenance plant that can provide a pleasant fragrance and contribute to a more enjoyable outdoor environment.
Videos about deterring snakes from your garden?
Check out this informative list of plants that deter snakes:
This video reviews several popular snake repellents and lets you know which ones actually work to keep snakes and other reptiles out of your yard:
Want to learn more about deterring snakes from your garden?
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