How to Get Rid of Garden Snakes


Welcome to the wriggly world of garden snakes, a topic that might make your skin crawl if you’re not fond of these slithery neighbors.

While most snakes in the United States are non-venomous and pose no threat to humans, their unexpected presence in our yards can often lead to concern and a flurry of questions about safety and removal.

Before you grab your shovel or call in the cavalry, it’s essential to understand the ecological role these creatures play. Garter snakes, for example, are common garden visitors and serve as natural pest control, dining on insects and small rodents that might otherwise overrun your beloved plants.

Knowing how to coexist with these legless gardeners, or humanely encourage them to move on, can be a game-changer for homeowners. So, let’s shed some of our fears and misconceptions as we slither into the topic of managing garden snakes with care and respect for the environment.

Identifying Garden Snakes

When it comes to garden snakes, knowing your friend from foe is key to a peaceful coexistence. Venomous snakes often have a triangular head as a warning sign to predators, while their pupils resemble vertical slits.

In contrast, the non-venomous varieties, which include the common garter snake, typically have a more spoon-shaped head and round pupils. These visual cues are nature’s way of helping us identify which creatures pose a risk and which do not. Color patterns can also be indicative, although they vary widely among species and are not as reliable for identification.

It’s crucial to remember that if you’re unsure about a snake’s identity, it’s always best to keep a safe distance and consult a professional. Quick identification is especially important if you’re considering removing a snake from your garden, as it determines the approach and precautions you need to take.

By familiarizing yourself with these characteristics, you can more confidently assess the situation and act accordingly, ensuring the safety of both you and the snake.

Why Snakes Enter Gardens

Snakes glide into gardens not to startle us, but in pursuit of the essentials for survival: food and shelter. These silent stalkers are on a constant lookout for their next meal, which often includes small animals and insects that are abundant in garden spaces.

The thick brush, compost heaps, and water features that make our yards aesthetically pleasing also create perfect hideouts for snakes. It’s their version of a home-sweet-home, offering both protection from predators and a hunting ground for their prey.

But how do you know if these legless guests have taken up residence among your petunias? Keep an eye out for telltale signs like shed skins, which snakes leave behind as they grow, or droppings that betray their presence. You might also spot holes that serve as entry points to their lairs, notice a peculiar smell in enclosed spaces, or see tracks in dust or soil. These clues can help you detect their presence early on, so you can decide on the best course of action to take, whether it’s to marvel at the wonders of nature or to humanely guide them back to the wild.

Humane Removal Methods

When it comes to evicting garden snakes without harm, think gentle persuasion rather than brute force. A simple garden hose can be your first line of defense, as a soft spray of water can encourage a snake to vacate the premises without injury.

For those that are more stubborn, a garbage can laid on its side with a broom to guide the snake in can serve as a makeshift trap. Once inside, simply tilt the can upright and transport the snake to a more suitable location away from your home.

If you’re dealing with a more persistent slithery squatter, commercial snake traps are available, designed to safely capture without killing. These methods, while effective, may not be for everyone, and that’s where professionals come in.

Hiring a snake removal service can be a stress-free solution, though costs can vary. On average, expect to pay around $150 for an outdoor extraction and between $350 to $500 for indoor removals. These specialists focus on humane capture and relocation, ensuring that the snake is removed safely and with minimal stress to the animal.

It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind and a snake-free yard.

Preventative Measures

Keeping snakes out of your garden doesn’t have to be a herculean task. By making your yard less inviting, you can preemptively discourage these reptilian visitors. Consider using gravel or rock as a barrier; snakes prefer not to cross such rough surfaces. Eliminate food temptations by removing or securing bird feeders, as these can attract rodents which, in turn, attract snakes. Additionally, installing a snake-proof fence

But don’t forget to look closer to home. Garter snakes can slip through the smallest of gaps, so it’s crucial to identify and seal any potential entry points around your house. Think like a snake: check for cracks in the foundation, gaps under doors, and openings around pipes or vents. Sealing these will not only help keep snakes out but can also improve your home’s insulation. By taking these preventative steps, you can create a garden that’s less of a paradise for snakes and more of a sanctuary for you.

Using Repellents and Barriers

When it comes to keeping garden snakes at bay, a proactive approach can save you from many an unwanted encounter. Repellents like Victor Snake-A-Way or Safer Brand Snake Shield have been formulated to discourage these slithering visitors with a mix of natural ingredients that are unappealing to their keen senses. By sprinkling these products around the perimeter of your garden, you create an invisible barrier that garter snakes would rather not cross.

But the effectiveness of these repellents can vary, and they’re often best used in conjunction with other deterrent methods for a belt-and-braces approach to snake prevention.

Physical barriers can also be highly effective, such as installing a fine mesh fence that dips into the soil to prevent snakes from slithering through or burrowing underneath.

It’s important to note that many chemical repellents on the market are not only less effective but can also be harmful to the environment and other wildlife. Therefore, opting for physical barriers or natural repellent products is not only kinder to snakes but also to the ecosystem of your garden.

The Role of Garter Snakes in Gardens

Garter snakes might not be the guests you’re expecting in your garden, but they play a crucial role in the local ecology. These slender, non-venomous reptiles are natural pest controllers, feasting on a variety of garden nuisances, including slugs, grubs, and other insects.

While it’s true that they don’t discriminate and may occasionally snack on beneficial bugs, their presence can contribute to a balanced ecosystem. A large population of garter snakes could indicate an underlying pest issue, and by managing these snakes, you’re also managing pests.

Before you consider removing them, it’s worth weighing the benefits they bring to your garden’s health. They help keep pest populations in check, reducing the need for chemical pesticides that can harm more than just your unwanted insects.

Remember, a garden is a living system, and garter snakes are part of the intricate web that maintains its health. By understanding and respecting their role, you can create a more sustainable and thriving garden environment.

Maintaining a Snake-Free Environment

Maintaining a snake-free environment in your garden is all about making your space less appealing to these reptiles. Think of it as setting the stage for a garden that says ‘keep out’ to serpents while still being a haven for you and your family. Start with habitat modification; it’s a fancy term for keeping your yard tidy. Remove piles of debris, fallen leaves, and stacks of wood where snakes love to hide. Keep your grass trimmed and your garden beds well-maintained, removing any overgrowth that could serve as a cozy hideout for a snake.

An active garden is a less attractive one for snakes. Move around your yard frequently, and they’ll get the message that it’s not a safe place for them to be. This doesn’t mean you need to patrol your garden like a guard, but regular lawn mowing, gardening, and playing with pets or kids can discourage snakes from settling in. Cleanliness is next to snakelessness, so ensure your outdoor space is free from food scraps or leftovers that might attract rodents, which in turn can attract snakes. By following these simple steps, you can maintain a long-term snake-free environment that’s enjoyable for you and less inviting for unwanted slithery visitors.


In the dance of humans and garden snakes, understanding and respect are the steps that lead to harmony.

As we’ve navigated the serpentine path of identifying, removing, and preventing these creatures in our gardens, the recurring theme has been education and humane treatment. Recognizing local snake species is not just about avoiding a startle in the shrubs; it’s about knowing which snakes are harmless and which could pose a threat. Providing an escape route for these reptiles can prevent conflicts and ensure both parties can coexist peacefully. Before deciding to remove a garter snake, consider its ecological role. These natural pest controllers can be allies in maintaining the health of your garden.

When removal is necessary, opt for methods that are kind to the snake and the environment. From redirecting them with a gentle stream of water to securing professional services, there’s a spectrum of options that prioritize the well-being of all involved.

As gardeners and stewards of our little patches of earth, let’s remember that every creature, even the ones that slither, has a part to play in the grand scheme of things. By fostering a balance between human comfort and ecological integrity, we can cultivate not just our gardens, but also a deeper appreciation for the diverse tapestry of life that surrounds us.