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Natural Ways to Keep Snakes out of Your Garden

Snakes are wonderful at keeping mice, chipmunks, and even squirrels out of your garden, but you may be like many homeowners and prefer these small mammals and other food sources, like frogs and insects, to snakes. A recent study has shown that over ½ of the U.S. population is uncomfortable with snakes in their gardens, with 3% having a serious phobia (Ophidiophobia).

Parents with young children and owners of small pets are the most fearful of having snakes in their gardens, even though most garden snakes aren’t typically aggressive or venomous.

If you prefer a snake-free yard, here are some steps you can take to make your garden less attractive to these slithering reptiles.


Snake Repellent Plants

There are two types of plants that keep snakes at bay: the kind that makes navigation painful and the kind that overloads their senses.

Navigation Plants

Golden Barell Cactus

Golden Barrel Cactus – also known as Echinocactus grusonii, these small, round cacti can grow to 4 feet tall and 2 ½ feet wide. They have long spikes to keep snakes away.

Prickly Pear Cactus

Prickly Pear Cactus – native to Virginia, Opuntia humifusa has beautiful, showy flowers and can survive the freezing temperatures of Virginia. It can grow 1-2 ½ feet wide and 19” tall. Snakes and their food sources avoid this plant.

Gultide Osmanthus

Gulftide Osmanthus – if you don’t like the size of holly leaves, Ozmanthus has a small, prickly leaf that falls off in intervals to make a painful carpet for snakes. It can grow to 15’ in height and 8’ wide, forming a hard-to-kill privacy hedge that is easily pruned. Another benefit of this shrub is that it has a small flower that scents the air with a soft, pretty aroma when it blooms in late spring/early summer.


Holly - they make great snake repellents if you don’t mind the mess a holly can often cause. The spiky leaves can be uncomfortable on a snake’s skin as they trek through your garden, and they will avoid areas where they are planted. Low-growing hollies are best, and you can trim them monthly and scatter their leaves in areas where you know snakes are frequenting.

Pungent Plants

Holly - the strong smell many hollies emit may also deter snakes.

Snakes don’t “smell” the same way as most animals do. Instead, a snake gathers molecules from the air by flicking its tongue. These molecules are then deposited on the Jacobson’s organ at the roof of the snake's mouth when the tongue retracts. These molecules generate neural messages to the brain, which interprets what they represent. The stronger the smell, the more intense the messaging, and snakes try to avoid these neural overloads.


Marigolds – both insects and snakes don’t like the strong, spicy scent of American Marigolds. The sturdy root system of the Marigold repels most burrowing animals such as snakes, gophers, moles and voles, while their flowers attract butterflies and bees.

Purple Allium

Allium – also known as flowering onion, the high sulfonic content of onions is what makes them great pest repellents. Scattered in a border, these create a striking display.

Lemon Grass

Lemongrass – snakes and wasps hate the citrusy fragrance of lemon grass. Snakes get disoriented by the smell, making it harder for them to hunt.

Sansevieria or Mother-in-Law's Tongue Plant

Sansevieria – also known as Mother-in-Law’s Tongue or snake plant, snakes find this plant threatening as their tall and twisting leaves appear threatening. These plants prefer temperatures of 70° F, making them unsuitable for planting outdoors in Virginia. You can, however, place your potted snake plant in a bright spot (avoiding direct sun) during the summer months, and their visual impact on snakes will still work.

Silver Artemesia

Artemisia – also known as wormwood or mugwort, artemisia has a strong, astringent scent snakes can’t stand. Small rodents also hate the smell, which reduces a snake’s food sources, making your yard less attractive. Artemisia comes in silver and green leaf varieties. The beautiful silver leaves can add depth to a garden landscape.


Agapanthus – a member of the onion family, agapanthus, like allium, has an unappealing scent to snakes. This beautiful plant also comes with blue or white blooms and a spike leaf that add unique texture to any garden.

Garlic – ditto for agapanthus and allium. Garlic also acts as a pest repellent. Roses thrive around garlic plantings as diseases and pests are thwarted by the oil an scent of garlic plants. If you don't plan to harvest your garlic, you can let it bloom for a delicate white flower show.


Herbs - Basil, Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel, Sage, Chives, Lavender, Wintergreen, Mint, Citronella, Catnip, Pennyroyal – snakes hate these smells. Enough said.

Cider Gum Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus – eucalyptus emits scent year-round, making it a longer-lasting solution to other seasonal plants like marigolds, lavender, or basil. In Virginia, eucalyptus will grow in a sheltered spot in the garden or can be put in a planter and hot-housed over the winter. Cider Gum eucalyptus (gunnii) is the heartiest variety and does well in Virginia's 7a and 7b zones.


Daffodils – while fragrant, daffodils don’t repel snakes as much as they repel the food sources snakes need. This lowers the likelihood a snake will take up residence in your garden if it can’t find something to eat.

Scented Geranium

Geraniums - both annual and perrenial scented geraniums have a smell snakes don't like. Some scented geraniums smell like licorice or chocolate when touched, so snakes stay away.


Other Ways to Snake-Proof Your Yard

Snakes like to stay out of sight most of the time, unless they are sunning themselves in your driveway to get warm. As a result, long grasses, unraked leaves, wood piles, and thick brush are ideal hiding spots.

They are also attracted to damp or wet places in your yard, which act as water sources and attract other food sources.

To limit snakes' hiding places, cut back the lower limbs of shrubs, trim any long grasses (except lemon grass), clear out leaves, logs, or brush, and fill in any holes or burrows you find in your yard. If you have wet areas or puddles, try building up the soil there and limit the amount of standing water.

If you don’t want to install snake-repelling plants, you can use some spices and essential oils instead. These include cinnamon, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus and clove oils. To use the essential oils, add 15 drops to a spray bottle filled with water and apply to your problem areas. You’ll need to repeat this after each rain or every few days and may need to experiment to see which scent is most effective.

It may be tempting to purchase solar snake repellers that create buzzing sounds and vibrations in the ground, but studies have been shown they don't work. Snakes don't typically respond to vibrations or noise.

Kinetic Owl Wind Scupture

Visual deterrents, however, do work. Plants with bright colors or patterns can mimic the appearance of venomous or dangerous species. Wind spinners create motion that will scare off snakes. Kinetic sculptures of predators like owls, hawks, or eagles do a good job. Snakes will avoid movements they may see as warning signals.

Last Resort

If you’ve tried everything you can imagine, and you still have a snake problem, you can contact a snake removal and relocation service to help trap and remove them from your yard. It is illegal to kill or harm snakes in Virginia since they play an essential role in the ecosystem by keeping mice, rats, and other vermin populations under control.

Ultimately, if you can learn to live in harmony with snakes and endure the occasional “surprise” sighting, it will benefit your home and the environment. If you can repel them using any of these natural and non-toxic methods, the other flora and fauna in your environment will also continue to thrive.



Sources: A-Z Animals, Better Homes and Gardens, House Digest,,,,

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Valutazione 5 stelle su 5.

Good advice

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