Are There Any Plants That REALLY Keep Snakes Away?

Written by Gail Baker Nelson
Updated: February 28, 2023
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Key Points:

  • Killing snakes can upset the ecological balance, and doesn’t eliminate the reason they were in your yard.
  • It’s better make your garden an uncomfortable waste of time for snakes than using plants that have never been proven to do the job. 
  • No plant or commercial snake repellent has ever been definitively proven to keep snakes away. 
  • It’s more likely that cleaning up your yard and replanting is chasing off the prey and snakes follow the prey.

Although snakes are an important part of the ecosystem, many people fear these legless rodent and insect-killing machines. However, killing them isn’t a great option. Not only do you run the risk of killing an endangered species, but also getting hurt yourself.

If you’re afraid of snakes, or live with someone who fears them, you probably want to find ways to encourage snakes to move along.

You may even ask, ”Can strategically-placed plants can help deter snakes?”

The short answer is no—snakes follow the prey. They don’t care if that plant is smelly, spikey, or otherwise unappealing. They’re not eating it, so they’ll probably just go around that yucca plant you have growing!

Yet, there is a way to make a snakes go away! Snakes look for food and safe hidey-holes in which to rest and either lay eggs or give birth.

7 Snake Repelling Tips That Really Work

While there aren’t any plants proven to repel snakes, there are things that repel their prey and make your yard inhospitable. 

Clean up debris

If your home is surrounded by wood piles, construction waste, old refrigerators, or other things of that nature, you probably have rodents. Because you have rodents, there are probably snakes too.

Cleaning up the debris removes some of the shelter for both the snakes and the prey. This includes piles of leaves and exceptionally deep mulch. 

Keep the grass clipped short

By cutting the grass shorter, you reduce their hiding places. Snakes are inherently shy and prefer to cruise around under the cover of long grass and brush. Let’s face it, you need to keep the lawn cut anyway, so why not make sure it’s done regularly to minimize the snakes’ cover.

Consider snake fencing

Snake fencing, when installed properly, prevents at least some of the slithering sneaks from getting into your yard at all.

However, it comes with a caveat: Snakes can climb. 

If you haven’t taken steps to make your yard inhospitable and still have prey making their home in your garden, then a particularly motivated snake will likely find away over or around the fencing. Some species (we’re talking about you, rat snakes!) are exceptional climbers, so it’s not fool-proof.

Seal up cracks and crevices around your house

Really small snakes can get into some of the oddest places! Sealing up small openings where a snake might be able to slither into will help minimize the number of snakes you find inside.

Fill in gopher holes and other rodent burrows, because snakes sometimes use them for shelter.


Fill in rodent burrows

Snakes take over old rat and gopher burrows. They’re convenient hiding places that might even lead to a meal. Filling these in to deter both the rodents and the snakes.

Remove water sources, if possible

Like all animals, snakes need water. Some of them live in it, others eat things that live in water. Remove standing water, because it not only gives the snake needed water, but can potentially house prey.

Spray it with water

Snakes are surprisingly delicate and do not enjoy being sprayed by water. If you’re sure it isn’t venomous, or you can spray it from far enough away the water from your garden hose may be enough to help it move along.

But Do Any Plants Repel Snakes?

Yes, we know there are dozens upon dozens of sites that claim plants can repel snakes. However, no plants have ever been definitively proven to repel snakes.

While you can’t use plants to repel the snakes, you may be able to use them to repel the critters they eat. A few plants may repel insects and rodents—otherwise known as snake food.

Here are a few plants that people believe may repel some of the snakes’ prey.

  • Mugwort
  • Garlic
  • Society Garlic
  • Green Chiretta
  • Indian Snakeroot
  • Yucca
  • Mother-in-Law’s Tongue
  • Marigold
  • West Indian Lemongrass
  • Tobacco
  • Clove Basil
  • Jimsonweed
  • Skunk Cabbage

Do Commercial Repellents Work?

That depends on whom you ask.

Some people swear by them, but most herpetologists say that they’re probably only repelling prey. If you’re using one that seems to work, great! Just make sure you’re also taking steps to reduce or eliminate food and shelter for the snakes.

Snakes Are Good for Gardens!

While they can be a little freaky, snakes ensure that your garden isn’t overrun by pests like slugs, snails, gophers, rats, and mice. As long as the snakes in your yard aren’t venomous, you have nothing to fear. In fact, they’re probably helping you.

These legless pest control specialists don’t want to hurt you. Most of them aren’t even venomous.

The venomous snakes in North America are almost all pitvipers that tend to shun people. The only venomous species that doesn’t seem to care whether they live close to you are the copperheads.

Regardless where you stand on snakes, by following our tips you’ll be able to minimize the shelter and food available to them—and reduce the number of snakes you find in your yard.

Are There Any Other Options?

None are as reliable as removing their food and shelter.

Some people use glue traps, but they are indiscriminate and innocent animals often fall victim to them. If you think about it, they’re actually cruel. Glue traps leave the animal suffering, where it typically starves to death.

If you’re finding a large number of snakes around your home, calling a pest control or snake removal expert to help you will be much more productive than dealing with them yourself. They’ll be able to help you eliminate snakes and their hiding places—making your garden a little more of the paradise you envisioned.

Up Next…

Snakes found in your garden or yard aren’t the only species in the United States. Find out what other species are found throughout the states: 

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About the Author

Gail’s love for a very misunderstood group of animals, reptiles, led her to write about and draw them. She loves the natural world and it’s endless inspiration for her work. She is a freelance writer and illustrator, and her latest book, “Pebble Skins and Fast Walkers: What’s In a Name?” Is due out in early 2023.

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