Part of keeping a home garden is dealing with the critters that invade it. Some of them are cute and furry, while others are scaly and scary.
Contrary to common belief, garden snakes don’t always pose a threat. In most cases, a garden snake will try to avoid human contact as much as possible.
However, some snakes can be poisonous, so it’s best to ensure that your garden is snake-proof. That brings up the big question: “how do you get rid of garden snakes?”
Keep Garden Snakes Away With These 10 Tips
There are two ways to go about it. You can either kill them using recommended chemicals or use deterrents to keep them away. If you’re having a snake problem in your garden, these 10 ways should help you kick them out.
1. Tidy up Your Garden
Snakes are ambush predators by nature. A cluttered garden provides them with the perfect hiding spots as they wait for their prey. Things like compost piles, wood chip mulch, straw mulch, piles of leaves, stacks of cut grass, and firewood stacks are an open invitation to a garden snake.
Make your garden inhabitable for snakes by removing any kind of clutter. If you have to use mulch for your garden plants, go for crushed stone mulch instead of wood, grass, or leaf mulch. Crushed stone is uncomfortable for a garden snake to live in, and will, therefore, help keep your garden snake-free.
2. Get Rid of Snake Preys
Unless it’s mating season, a snake will only come to your garden to look for food or shelter. Tidying up your garden may eliminate snake shelter, but there’s still more to be done.
Even without shelter, snakes will still linger in your garden if it’s littered with animals they like to feed on. Typical snake preys include frogs, birds, lizards, insects, minnows, mice and other small rodents.
While you can’t get rid of all these animals completely, taking measures to make your garden inhabitable for snake preys can go a long way as far as keeping snakes off your garden is concerned.
Invest in pest and rodent control agents, while observing outdoor anti-rodent hygiene. This may include keeping trash cans and compost containers tightly sealed as well as ensuring you don’t leave pet food lying around the yard.
3. Get Your Garden a Snake-Proof Fence
If you reside in an area with many poisonous snakes, consider investing in a snake-proof fence. The cost of erecting one may put you off, but it’s definitely better than spending money on hospital bills due to snake bites.
To make a snake-proof fence, bury a 1/4-inch mesh wire screening up to six inches underground and build it up to 30 inches high. The fence should slant outward by 30 degrees from top to bottom. The gates should be tightly fitted, and the supporting stakes must be placed inside the perimeter. You might also want to clear overgrown vegetation around the area, as snakes can use it to climb over the fence.
A wooden fence can also cut it as long as the boards are closely fitted together. If you choose this option, ensure you snake-proof the bottom with 1/4-inch mesh or hardware cloth.
When snake-proofing your garden, keep in mind that some snakes can climb up rough vertical surfaces such as tree trunks and brick walls. To stop this, place a foot-wide metal flashing or a wooden ledge along the top outer side of the fence. With the 30-degree outward slant, snakes attempting to climb the fence will lean off the wall, lose their grip, and fall.
If building a snake-proof fence seems like too much work, or you simply don’t have the skills and manpower to do it yourself, you can hire experts to install the fence for you.
4. Seal Any Holes in Your Garden
Holes are conducive hiding spots for snakes during the cold season. Therefore, ensure you patch up any holes in your garden to keep snakes away. Even if the snakes won’t occupy these holes, chances are rodents will. And, this will, in turn, attract hungry snakes to your garden.
You may also want to repair any holes or crevices in your house’s foundation, screen doors, and garage.
5. Create Vibrations
If you suspect that your garden is harboring snakes, run any machine that produces some sort of vibrations on the ground like a tiller or a lawnmower. The vibrations should scare away any garden snake that may be lingering around.
Keep in mind that this won’t get rid of garden snakes permanently as they may return later. This is simply a measure used to keep them away long enough to allow you to work on your garden or erect a snake-proof fence.
6. Lay Snake Traps
If you suspect that garden snakes have already made their way into your yard, one of the best ways to get rid of them is setting traps. A popular way of trapping snakes is by using glue traps. But these traps may not be appropriate if you don’t want to hurt them. Alternatively, you can go for a humane snake trap to only immobilize the snakes without necessarily harming or killing them.
Before you set up garden snake traps, it’s important to contact your local animal control authorities for legal compliance. Be sure to also ask them about the safety measures to observe when laying snake traps and proper ways of handling trapped snakes.
7. Use Mothballs
Mothballs contain naphthalene as an active ingredient which repels and kills different types of pests including snakes. Place small mothballs around your garden, or mix them with cat litter before scattering them in your garden.
It’s important to note that some types of snakes are not repelled by mothballs. As such, you should combine this method with other techniques to make sure that all snakes are flushed out.
Also, this method should only be used when your garden isn’t near your home. When mothballs are exposed to moisture, they release toxic vapor that can seep into your living spaces and harm the occupants.
You should never leave mothballs within reach of children and pets as they’re harmful when ingested. Ensure that you keep the gate to your garden locked when using this snake deterrent.
8. Use Sulfur to Repel Snakes
More than often, sulfur is used as the main active ingredient for manufacturing commercial pesticides. So instead of spending money on an industrial snake deterrent, you can use this compound to keep snakes off your garden by sprinkling it around common snake entryways.
Contrary to common belief, it’s not the pungent smell of sulfur that keeps snakes away. Instead, the compound irritates the snake’s skin upon contact, deterring it from areas with the sulfur pellets.
There are some downsides of using sulfur as a snake deterrent. Apart from not being environmentally friendly, snakes that have been irritated by this product are usually more aggressive and dangerous when approached. What’s more, sulfur may not work against all snake species. But you can always combine this method with other methods above.
9. Use Cinnamon Oil and Clove Oil
Cinnamon oil and clove oil are common household ingredients you can use to make an effective snake repellent.
Essential oils have tiny molecules that can quickly penetrate the snakes’ skin, making them uncomfortable.
To make a homemade snake repellent with these ingredients, mix the oil solution with water. Put this mixture in a spray bottle and spray it around your garden.
You can also deter snakes with vapor fumigation. Simply soak pieces of cloth in the essential oils and place them strategically on your garden.
10. Install a Perch Pole
Installing a perch pole in your garden will attract natural snake predators such as owls and hawks, and this may help keep your garden snake-free. For best results, install perch poles in an open area, so hawks and owls have a good view of the snakes in your garden.
Get Rid of Garden Snakes the Right Way
While these 10 ways may help you fend off garden snakes, the ultimate goal should be to make your garden as inhabitable for snakes as possible. Doing the simple things such as removing clutter and patching up holes in your garden may go a long way as far as keeping snakes away is concerned.
So don’t wait until snakes invade your backyard. Prevention is always better – and cheaper! If the infestation is too much for you to handle by yourself, you can seek professional help from your local area.