How to Keep Garden Snakes Out of Your Yard & Garden?

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: June 3, 2022
Image Credit iStock.com/AlasdairJames
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Think You Know Snakes?

Key Points:

  • Garden snakes, also called garter snakes, refers to a family of common, non-venomous snakes.
  • Throughout North America and parts of Mexico, garden snakes inhabit a wide variety of habitats.
  • While garden snakes can be beneficial to yards and gardens, there are several ways to deter them from hanging around.

Garden snakes are native to North and Central America. They are medium-sized snakes and are sometimes also called garter snakes. These reptiles are generally non-venomous and usually found in gardens or near water. 

Douglas Athon Rossman states that garter snakes are the most common and most successful in North America in terms of distribution and quantity. They can be found in every state in the mainland United States and Canada, from the Maritime Provinces to British Columbia. They also inhabit Mexico. 

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The common garden snake measures 22 to 54 inches long, including the tail. Its base can be black, brown, or green, and its stripes are yellow. Other garden snakes can have different color patterns, including olive, orange, or red. 

If you live in an area mentioned above, we bet you’re wondering how to keep garden snakes out of your yard or garden. No one likes to hear or see a snake nearby during a relaxing summer day. Whether you’re afraid of snakes or just want to avoid crossing paths with them, we’re here to help you out!

Are Garden Snakes Dangerous?

Garden Snake or Garter Snake
Garden Snakes are not considered a threat to humans because the amount of venom their bites carry is very small.

K Quinn Ferris/Shutterstock.com

Before diving into some tips on how to keep garden snakes away from your yard and garden, let’s see if they are venomous or dangerous.

Garden snakes were considered a non-venomous species until the 2000s. Then it was discovered that their bites produced a mild neurotoxic venom that can produce an anaphylaxis response in some people. They are still not considered a threat to humans because the amount of venom their bites carry is very small compared to that of other venomous snakes.

Despite this, people should still avoid garden snakes, especially if they have kids or pets. The garden snakes are poisonous if eaten, and they can bite if they feel threatened. Garden snakes are considered a very aggressive species of reptiles. They can also carry salmonella and emit a musk that irritates dogs.

How to Keep Garden Snakes Out of Your Yard & Garden?

Snake-proof fencing

Installing snake-proof fencing might be one of the first steps to consider if you’ve noticed snakes sneaking into your yard or garden. Snake-proof fencing is usually made from vinyl or hardware cloth, and its mesh is narrow enough that snakes can’t get past it. It needs to be installed in a way that prevents snakes from climbing the fence. If you’re not sure how to handle it, you can always contact a specialist to help you install the fence the right way.

Use snake repellent

Snakes have a powerful sense of smell. Snake repellents are a very good idea to keep them out of your yard or garden.

Many commercial snake repellents are considered effective. However, you can DIY your snake repellent using natural products. One of the best products is ammonia. Snakes cannot stand its smell and won’t even dare come near it. Soak some old clothes in ammonia, put them in unsealed plastic bags, and leave the bags where you’ve previously seen snakes sneaking in. If you have a pool, pour some white vinegar around it to keep snakes away.

Don’t want garden snakes in your yard?

Garden Snake or Garter Snake
Garden snakes like to settle in grasslands, lawns, woodlands, and fields.

Charlotte Payne/Shutterstock.com

Snakes will come to your yard or garden to look for water, food, or shelter. Garden snakes like to settle in grasslands, lawns, woodlands, and fields and are always near water sources. If you live in the western part of North America, it’s important to know that the snakes there are more aquatic than those in eastern North America.

Garden snakes eat small fish, slugs, earthworms, lizards, amphibians, birds, snails, and rodents.

Keep grass under control and add plants snakes don’t like

The best you can do is assess how “inviting” your yard or garden is to snakes. Keep the grass short. This will expose snakes to predators like hawks. It will also be easier for you to spot them. Avoid overwatering the grass because it will attract frogs, worms, and snakes. Plants like marigolds, wormwood, or lemongrass are natural repellents for snakes. Planting some around the house will also help.

Remove any potential hiding spots for snakes

Check the exterior of your home and the yard or garden for hiding places, cracks, or holes. If you have woodpiles around the house, you should remove them, as snakes can easily hide in between them. Bird feeders can also be dangerous as they attract rodents, and snakes will come shortly after looking for prey.

Hair is also an amazing snake repellent

Another method to keep garden snakes away from your yard or garden is to state loud and clear that people live there. What better way to do this than through their strong sense of smell? After you or someone in the house brushes their hair, save the hairs left on the hairbrush and put them around the property. It might sound strange, but snakes will smell the hair and will not enter the yard.

What should you do if you spot a garden snake in your yard or garden?

Garden Snake or Garter Snake
A garden snake bite can swell and hurt, but it’s not as dangerous as a rattlesnake bite.

Alexander Gold/Shutterstock.com

Garden snakes can be aggressive. Do not try to touch or catch them if you spot any. It’s better to have at least three feet of space between you and the snake. Otherwise, they will feel threatened. We advise you always to have a snake repellent close by. You’ll be able to spray the snake until it goes away.

Garden snakes are not harmful to humans. This is why it’s important to learn how to differentiate them from other venomous snakes, such as rattlesnakes. A garden snake bite can swell and hurt, but it’s not as dangerous as a rattlesnake bite. It’s always best to avoid any contact with a snake. If you are afraid, have no experience with snakes, don’t know what kind of snake it is, and the repellent is not efficient, you should call 911 for immediate assistance.

If your pet happens to get ahold of one of these snakes, they release a foul smelling and tasting secretion that will most likely have your pet drop them as soon as they grab them. Washing your pet’s mouth out should do the trick of getting rid of the unpleasantry.

Benefits

While the term “snake” sounds scary no matter what type, garden snakes are generally harmless unless messed with or eaten. They provide natural pest control of crickets, snails, ants, earthworms, and even rodents! So, if you’re looking to keep your yard or garden healthy, leave these snakes alone and they will do the same. Garden snakes are more afraid than you are of them, so they will stay away from humans or pets and out fo sight for the most part.

Summary

Ultimately, garden snakes are harmless even though their bite can cause discomfort and they don’t taste very good. They can benefit your yard and garden by keeping other creepy crawlies away while staying out of you and your pets’ way. If you do want to get rid of snakes, instead of trying to kill them, use snake deterring methods like:

  • Pet hair
  • Grass control
  • Snake-deterring plants
  • Remove hiding spots

Up Next…

Many people have reasons for needing pests such as rodents, reptiles, and other creepy crawlies out of their yards or homes. Keep reading to find out more about deterring some of these critters:

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