How to Keep Snakes Out of Your Yard 

snake in a yard

Admittedly, snakes play an essential role in our ecosystem. They represent a food source for various birds, mammals, and other reptiles and help control insect, rodent, and amphibian populations. But snakes also can cause serious injury or death, which is why most people want them as far away as possible. 

If the mere sight of these slithering creatures fills you with fear and disgust, and you want to learn how to keep snakes out of your yard, this article is for you. We tell you how to prevent snakes from coming near your home, what to do in case they do, and how to identify the type you’re dealing with.

How to keep snakes out of your yard

The most important way to prevent snakes from coming into your yard is by making your property unsuitable for them in the first place. 

Snakes are attracted to the same things we are: food, water, and shelter. By eliminating these elements, you can drastically reduce the chances of snakes making a surprise appearance. 

Eliminate food sources

First, ensure your property has no food sources attractive for snakes. Snakes are carnivorous by nature, eating everything from small rodents to lizards, frogs, slugs, snails, and birds. To eliminate all chances of snakes making an appearance, try this:

  • Clean your yard and remove any trash that could attract such animals.
  • Practice strict rodent and insect population control.
  • Don’t leave pet food outside; this can attract mice or other critters that snakes like eating. 
  • Don’t keep bird feeders around your yard, as this is another surefire way to attract snakes to your yard.

Get rid of standing water

standing water in yard
Photo Credit: Infrogmation of New Orleans | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

Snakes love water, so if your yard has a pond, a pool, a fountain, or an area where water pools when it rains, then it’s highly likely that snakes will come calling.

To minimize this risk, cover up your swimming pool at night, clean your gutters to prevent standing water from forming around your home’s foundation, and keep your yard as tidy and dry as possible. Apart from keeping snakes away, you’ll also have fewer mosquitoes around to bug you.

Remove potential snake shelters

Removing any potential shelter in your landscape is another way to keep snakes at bay. Snakes like to live in cool, dark places, so:

  • Get rid of leaf piles, old branches, large rocks, logs, and empty flower pots in your yard.
  • Have tight-fitting lids on all your trash cans to prevent snakes from crawling inside.
  • Seal all openings to your home, shed, garage, or any other structure on your property, preferably using thin metal sheets rather than caulk. In addition to keeping snakes out, you’ll be preventing other critters from making themselves at home.

Snakes won’t stick around your yard for long if they don’t have somewhere to hide.

Mow or replace your lawn

mower mowing a lawn
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Snakes love tall grass and weeds because they can better hide from predators like owls and hawks.

To make it harder for snakes to take shelter in your grass, mow your lawn regularly. Not only will this keep snakes away, but your grass will look well-kept, thick, and lush.

Another option is to replace certain areas of your lawn with gravel. The hard surface will bother the snake, and the lack of grass will make it impossible to take cover.

Trim bushes and trees

Let’s assume you’ve removed all possible hiding spots, sealed entrances, and mowed your lawn. At this point, any snakes on your property may look for ways to climb up your trees or hide in your landscaping. Remove this option by trimming your trees and bushes.

Invite natural snake predators

You also can help natural snake predators by installing a perch pole. Perch poles are drilled into the ground in strategic locations around a yard, and the best part is you can DIY install them.

Birds like owls and hawks will perch on these poles, giving them a place to sit while they hunt for food (like snakes). Luckily for you, this will help keep serpents off your property.

Get pets that repel snakes

Certain pets may be able to keep snakes away from your property, but it’s not a guarantee. Depending on the type of snake that shows up on your property, you may end up putting your pets at risk, as venomous snakes are aggressive and can cause injury or death. 

Here are several ways pets can support deter snakes:

  • Outdoor cats are natural predators, eating rodents and other critters around the yard. If strong enough, they may even kill certain types of snakes. Since cats can eliminate the food sources snakes are drawn to, you’ll have fewer of them to worry about.
  • Large dogs can intimidate snakes simply thanks to their size and loud bark. Don’t count on smaller dogs having the same effect, though, especially if they’re inside dogs. In that case, don’t expose your pet to the danger.
  • Guinea hens are also quite successful at repelling snakes, able to kill smaller snakes and make enough noise to disturb the slithering creatures.

Tip: Clean up after your dog or cat, as their poop can attract rodents, which will attract snakes.

Install snake-proof fencing

Snake-proof fencing is an efficient barrier against snakes, whether you’re protecting your entire property or just your garden.

A snake-proof fence is usually made of aluminum or galvanized stainless steel wire mesh, buried 10 inches in the ground. It should rise at least 30 inches above the ground and be slanted outward to make it harder for snakes to slither over. 

If you already have a fence in your yard and don’t plan on getting a new one, check it for any crevices or gaps that snakes and other critters could get through.

Take a look at these snake-proof fences for your yard:

Use snake repellents

Cinnamon leaf oil
Photo Credit: Gayandusmantha | Wikimedia Commons | CC BY-SA 4.0

There are several potential natural snake repellents available for homeowners nationwide. However, there isn’t enough scientific evidence regarding their effectiveness; some can do more harm than good. Whatever you decide, it’s important to set realistic expectations.

Aromatic flowers and plants that repel snakes

Certain flowers and plants naturally repel snakes due to their strong aroma. Plant any of these types in strategic spots in your yard and wait to see if they work:

  • Cactus
  • Kaffir lime
  • Mother-in-law’s tongue (Snake plant)
  • Indian snakeroot
  • Wormwood
  • Onion
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Lemongrass
  • Marigold
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Pepper

Essential oils that repel snakes

You can try pouring or spraying natural essential oils around the areas you think may attract snakes. The good thing about essential oils is that, while they may repel snakes, they’re non-toxic to humans. Keep them away from pets, though, as some may be harmful if ingested. 

Here are some examples:

  • Cedar oil
  • Cinnamon oil
  • Rosemary oil
  • Clove oil
  • Garlic oil
  • Pine oil

Household items that repel snakes

Some common household items can also be used to deter certain snakes. These include:

  • Ammonia diluted in water
  • Powdered sulfur
  • White vinegar
  • Lime mixed with peppermint or pepper
  • Bleach (though be careful not to harm yourself or your pets, children, soil, or landscaping). When in doubt, opt for another method.

Warning: Refrain from using mothballs to fix your snake problem. They contain naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene, chemicals known to harm humans (especially children). Beyond that, the mothball method can harm wildlife, pollute the air, and contaminate your soil and water supply. Plus, it’s been called ineffective against snakes.

Store-bought snake repellents

If you’d rather use commercial snake-repellent products, these are some of the most popular options on the market:

Remember that just because these products are available in stores doesn’t make them effective. They also can harm pets, children, and animals in the vicinity, so tread carefully when applying these products in your yard. 

How to get rid of snakes in your yard

snake moving in a yard
Photo Credit: Sayjack | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Snakes can be sneaky, and even though you may have done everything in your power to keep them out of your yard, sometimes they just find a way in.

But fear not, as there are still things you can do to get rid of them once they’re in your yard. 

Spray the snake with a hose

Using a hose, spray a steady stream of water at the snake; it will likely move along, seek shelter, and be discouraged from returning to your yard.

Invest in a glue trap

A glue trap is a device designed to trap animals in place. The animal gets stuck to the sticky substance and cannot get away. You can easily find these traps in different sizes at your local hardware store. 

Set up the glue trap in an area where snakes are known to roam, remembering to check it every day. Once you’ve trapped the snake inside the trap, call a wildlife or animal control company to remove it. 

Though effective, this method is considered cruel due to the slow, painful deaths the captured animals experience.

Use smoke

Smoke irritates snakes’ sensitive eyes and noses, so you can try using a fire pit to make them run away from your property.

Warning: Be careful not to place your fire pit or anything you use to produce fire/smoke near combustibles or electrical installations.

Call a local wildlife control team

A wildlife control company can safely remove snakes from your yard and return them to their natural habitat away from residential communities.

How to tell the difference between venomous and non-venomous snakes

The only thing more terrifying than a snake is a venomous one. Our table can help you tell apart different types of snakes:

Venomous Snake CharacteristicsNon-Venomous Snake Characteristics
Triangular headsOval heads
Vertical slits for pupilsRound pupils
FangsNo fangs
Keeled (ridged) scalesSmooth scales
May have a rattle on their tail-endsTail tapers to a thin point without a rattle

Common venomous snakes

  • Rattlesnakes – Colors range from brown to black, with hexagonal scales; will rattle their tails when threatened
  • Coral snakes – Red, yellow, and black bands across their bodies
  • Copperhead snakes – They have dark brown rounded markings on their bodies
  • Cottonmouth snakes – Also known as water moccasins; usually brown with white mouths that open wide when threatened

Common non-venomous snakes

  • Gopher snakes – Gray or brown bodies with black or brown spots; imitate rattlesnakes but are not dangerous to humans
  • Garter snakes – Black with three white stripes down their bodies
  • Rat snakes – Dark bodies, skilled swimmers and climbers
  • Kingsnakes – Frequently confused with coral snakes; they have red, black, and pale bands down their backs

FAQ about keeping snakes out of your yard

What time of the day are snakes most active?

Snakes are most active in the early morning and dusk, but during summer, they tend to come out at night.

What do I do if a venomous snake bites me?

If a venomous snake bites you, stay as calm as you can to prevent the venom from spreading faster due to your increased heart rate.

Check the injury and look for fang marks. A snake bite is usually followed by swelling and pain as well as a bruise-like discoloration of the skin. You also may experience nausea and swelling in your armpit and groin lymph nodes.

Call an ambulance immediately or drive to a medical center if you can.

What should I avoid doing around a snake?

Never attempt to pick up a snake, even if you know it’s dead. Its reflexes allow it to strike for up to an hour after death. If you come up against a snake, the best thing you can do is stay out of its way and go the other way. If you have a lot of snakes in your yard, consider buying a snake bite kit for emergencies.

Connect with a pro near you

To make your yard unappealing to snakes, contact a local lawn care pro who can mow your lawn, control weeds, and remove leaves. With a little planning and work, your yard can become snake-proof so you can sit back, relax, and enjoy your time spent outside.

Main Image Credit: Sayjack | Flickr | CC BY-ND 2.0

Andie Ioó

In my free time, I enjoy traveling with my husband, sports, trying out new recipes, reading, and watching reruns of '90s TV shows. As a way to relax and decompress, I enjoy landscaping around my little yard and DIY home projects.