snake in someones yard

7 Easy Ways To Keep Snakes Away From Your Yard

Unlike rabbits and squirrels, snakes are not welcome around most home gardens and porches. Many people fear these reptiles, whether or not they are venomous, so it can be unpleasant to find one slithering around your flowers or underneath your lawn chair, even in your home. “For a lot of people, the thought of a snake in their yard or inside their home can be quite unsettling,” said Gina Peek, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension housing and consumer specialist. “Fortunately, snakes, as with most other creatures, don’t want anything to do with the human population. They’re likely invading your space because they’re looking for food and shelter.” [1] Luckily for people, there are many ways to prevent these sneaky reptiles from taking up residence in their yards.

How to Keep Snakes Off Your Property

1. Keep your grass short 

man is mowing a lawn for snake prevention

First things first, move your lawn. “The first thing I tell people is keep your grass cut to a short or reasonable length,” said Chris Petersen, co-chair for Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC). “Snakes are cautious about traveling across groomed grass because it exposes them to predators, particularly raptors such as hawks and owls.[2] Short grass also makes it easier for you to spot these intruders and monitor them.

2. Don’t overwater your lawn

Watering fresh vegetables and herbs

In order to keep snakes away, you need to keep their prey away. So avoid overwatering your lawn. Marshes and standing water tend to attract species like frogs, slugs, and worms. Without food or shelter, snakes are unlikely to linger on your property for long.

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3. Trim your trees and bushes

Woman gardener trimmig euonymus bushes in the garden

On the topic of shelter, keep your trees and bushes trimmed and pick up any broken branches, lumber, or debris. Snakes like to sneak around and stay out of sight (remember, their predators involve birds of prey), so removing this kind of protection can dissuade them from sticking around. [3]

4. Put pet food inside

Dog drinking water

In the same way, you should prevent frogs and slugs from coming to your yard, you need to prevent another kind of prey from creeping in. “Snakes are carnivores, though some will feed on insects, so they are primarily seeking out rodents such as mice, moles, rats, and even birds,” said Petersen. Therefore, it’s important to avoid attracting rodents by, for instance, leaving dog or cat food outside. “That will bring in the rodents, which will bring in the snakes,” said Petersen. So if you feed your pet in your yard, remove uneaten food before going inside. 

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5. Keep bird feeders away from the house

Goldfinch feeding on sunflower seeds in a birdfeeder

Similarly, bird feeders could also attract food sources for snakes. Birds can be messy eaters that fling seeds around,” Petersen said. “Seed will lay on the ground, and that will bring in rodents as well.”

6. Pick snake-repelling plants 

woman planting snake repelling plant in pot

Now, there’s no magic plant that keeps all snakes away. So it’s best to find out what kind of snakes you’re trying to repel before trekking to a garden store. Plants to look into include:

  • Mother-In-Law’s Tongue – This succulent can deter snakes because of its sharp and stiff leaves that are uncomfortable to slither over.
  • Holly – Similarly, holly plants are prickly and uncomfortable for snakes to interact with.
  • Chrysanthemums – They contain a chemical called pyrethrum that is deadly for certain types of snakes. 
  • Marigolds – These pretty flowers release a strong scent that many snakes — and insects —  hate.
  • Wormwood – Another smelly plant that snakes can’t stand.
  • Basil – Although this herb is delicious and appealing to humans, snakes are not a fan of the smell. [4]

7. Use natural repellents

Cast iron fire pit to keep snakes away

If you prefer natural repellents (or if you want to use a household item so you don’t need to schlep to a store), there are several you can try. Natural repellents include vinegar, sulfur, cloves, and cinnamon oil. Snakes have a good sense of smell, so pour these substances around your lawn, especially where you noticed snakes previously. Also, snakes hate the smell of smoke. So if you have a fire pit, light it up and let it smolder for a few days. [5]

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What to do if you see a snake

snake in the grass

Although it’s tempting, don’t try to kill a snake if you come across one on your property. “Most people are bitten when trying to kill or handle a snake. My recommendation — if you are not sure what species you are encountering in your yard, garden or home — is to assume that it is venomous and to be very cautious around it but opt for a non-lethal way to resolve the situation,” Petersen said. He suggests spraying it with a hose until it moves away on its own.

It’s dangerous to try to kill a snake as a non-professional, and it’s also bad for the environment. These creatures play an important role, including eating pests like rodents, and acting as food for other animals like raptors, foxes, and bears. “When you have snakes in your environment, that represents a healthy ecosystem. It’s important to have them around because they provide ecological value,” said Peterson.

But if you are concerned about venomous reptiles, search the websites of your local state wildlife agencies, universities, or herpetology clubs. They can provide information about wildlife that is common in your state as well as explain how to spot dangerous snakes. Some snakes you might like having around your garden, especially the ones who eat pests like rodents, slugs, and snails, so do your research before chasing them all out.

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  1. “Keeping snakes away from your home and yard.Oklahoma State University. Trisha Gedon. July 3, 2019
  2. “How to Snake-Proof Your Yard.Tree Hugger. Tom Oder. August 17, 2032
  3. “12 Ways to Stop Snakes From Slithering Into Your Yard.UState. Terry Messmer. June 29, 2019
  4. “6 Common Plants That Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard, Experts Say.” Yahoo Life. Ari Notis. September 25, 2022
  5. “How to Get Rid of Snakes: A Complete Guide [2023].Smith’s Pest Management. Zachary Smith. March 14, 2023