How to Get Rid of Garter Snakes Without Killing Them? 5 Ways

Written by

William Golder


Dorian Goodwin

how to get rid of garter snakes without killing them

Snakes are scary and unsettling to many people, even if they are not venomous. If you’ve stumbled upon one of these reptiles in your yard, it’s natural that you want them away from your residence. But how to get rid of garter snakes without killing them?

You should mow your lawn and make it less desirable to these creatures, build a fence, and use repellents, among other methods. Read on for more details.


5 Methods to Get Rid of Garter Snakes in My Garden


Method 1. Mow your lawn and remove leaves


This is one of the easiest home remedies to keep garter snakes away. To carry out this method, prepare the following:

  • Mower
  • Earmuffs and protective glasses
  • Gloves
  • Leaf rake/blower
  • Trash bag

Garter snakes like to hide in dense and tall vegetation. Hence, if your garden has knee-high grass or big bushes and shrubberies, it’s time to give them a trim.

  • Make sure the blade of your mower is sharp.
  • Protect your eyes with impact-resistant glasses, as the pruning machine will send sediments and debris flying.
  • A mower is often noisy, so put on earmuffs as well.
  • Then, cut the grass short (⅓ of the height at a time) and follow the recommendations for your grass type. For example, centipede grass requires a higher setting than Bermuda grass.
  • It’s best to mow the yard when the ground is dry. This ensures a more even cut.

Aside from thick bushes, small piles of leaves and rotting wood can also attract garter snakes. Though you cannot remove your compost, cleaning up other useless foliage can help. The fewer places snakes have to stay in, the better.

  • If you use a rake, push the tool on the ground in a backward direction, towards the edge of your garden. This way, all the leaves will be in one place.
  • Alternatively, a leaf blower may be used. Direct the air from the device towards the leaves, making sure that they’re all moved to the same location.
  • Finally, transfer the leaf pile into a garbage bag, which you can dispose of later.
  • If you see any pieces of wood you don’t use, throw them away as well.

Method 2. Remove food sources

Animals naturally like places with their favorite foods. Hence, another method to prevent a garter snake infestation is to remove things they eat, such as rodents, slugs, snails, frogs, and grasshoppers.

  • Rodents hate the smell of peppermint oil. You can wet some cotton balls with this substance and leave them around the place where you saw snakes.
  • To deter slugs and snails, you can sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your plants or home entrances.
  • As for frogs, they do not like walking on coffee grounds, so just sprinkle some of these particles around your residence. Note that if you put coffee grounds on the soil, it can become more acidic.
  • To keep grasshoppers from showing up and attracting snakes, use a garlic concoction. In a blender, put garlic and water in a 1:5 ratio. After combining the two ingredients, boil the resulting liquid and wait for it to cool.


Then, take one part of the solution and combine it with three times as much water in a spray bottle. Finally, spray the garlic mixture on the plants.

Method 3. Build a fence


From my experience, the best way to repel garter snakes is to build a fence.

  • The best materials for a snake fence are aluminum and stainless steel wire mesh. In my yard, I use stainless steel, which is more long-lasting. Still, aluminum is also durable and will work excellently.
  • Because snakes can slither through holes, make sure your mesh has weaves no larger than ¼ of an inch.
  • The fence should be at least 40 inches in height; 10 inches should be buried underground, with the rest of the fence protruding upwards. The angle of the barrier should be 30 degrees.

This way, snakes won’t be able to crawl over or underneath it.

  • In addition, you should move plants near the fence to another location. You don’t want garter snakes to slide towards the vegetation and bypass the fence.
  • The mesh to build the fence is sold in rolls of different lengths and widths. Just select the size that fits your needs and cut the material if necessary. Then, secure the metal cloth to the ground with nails.

Method 4. Use garter snakes repellent

  • Vinegar

Garter snakes are fond of areas with moisture. While you cannot relocate the lakes or rivers near your home, your swimming pool, well, or any other wet places in your house are completely under your control.

Since vinegar is a natural garter snake deterrent, pouring it at the boundaries or entrances of the above locations will keep snakes away.

  • Smoke

Heavy smoke from a fire pit for several days can annoy garter snakes enough that they leave you alone. However, if you have a sensitive nose, it’s understandable that you don’t want your surroundings to be filled with fumes.

  • Sulfur & naphthalene

Similar to vinegar, sulfur is effective in garter snake removal if you sprinkle it around your residence.

There are commercial products containing sulfur and made specifically to deter snakes. Some of them contain naphthalene as well, which will also get rid of these reptiles without harming them.

  • Cinnamon and clove oil


If you already use essential oils to freshen up the home, you will be glad to know that some of them can also keep garter snakes away. Have the following items ready:

  • Cinnamon oil
  • Clove oil
  • Water
  • Spray bottle

Step 1: Make the deterrent.

In a spray bottle, combine 4 to 8 drops of cinnamon and clove oils and 1 gallon of water. Then, shake the container.

Step 2: Use the solution.

You can spray the oil solution on areas with snakes.

Tip: Alternatively, you can buy a package of snake-repellent granules with cinnamon and clove oils. Check the product description to make sure it has the right ingredients, and make sure the formula is safe around plants, people, and pets (if you have them).
  • Onions and garlic

Another deterrent you can try is a combination of onions and garlic. Prepare the items below:

  • 1 garlic bulb and 2 onions or garlic powder and onion powder
  • Blender
  • Water
  • Sieve (if you don’t use the powder)
  • Spray bottle
  • Step 1: Make the mixture

Remove the skin from the onions and put them in a blender with the garlic. Then, pulverize both ingredients to get a paste.

Afterwards, add some water to the mixture and let it sit for a day. Once the waiting period is over, remove all solid particles from the solution using a sieve.

If you use garlic and onion powder, just blend them with water in a 1:1 ratio.

  • Step 2: Start spraying – Apply the garlic/onion solution on snake-prone areas. Its pungent smell will keep these reptiles away.

Note: Aside from the above repellents, you can also use lime and peppermint, ammonia, and fox urine.

Method 5. Use garter snake trap

Find a humane trap that’s big enough to hold garter snakes. You can put baits such as eggs in it, and the scaly creatures will get into the cage and lock themselves up.

Place the trap in dense vegetation as well since such habitat is more likely to attract serpents.

After you catch garter snakes, you just have to relocate them. And remember to mow your lawn to deter other snakes from settling in your property.



Are garter snakes dangerous?

These snakes do produce venom, but not in such high quantities that they will gravely injure or kill people.

Still, garter snakes might bite and bruise you if you step on them by accident, and if you have small children around, it’s best to remove these snakes from your home environment.

How do I keep snakes out of my house?

In addition to the methods above, you can try the following tips:

  • Seal up entries and holes where snakes may come through. The cracks on your roof, garage door, and even pet door are some of the locations that need checking.
  • If you are okay with the unevenness, lay gravel on the ground of your property. Snakes will find it difficult to slither across rough surfaces.
  • If you have meals, feed pets, and hang bird feeders outside your home, you can create food crumbs that will attract rats, which, in turn, will attract snakes. So, avoid doing these things or clean your yard regularly.


How to get rid of garter snakes without killing them? You can try several or all of our suggestions above. And if a snake bites you, distance yourself from it and clean your wound with soap and water. You should also see a doctor, even if the snake is not venomous, and note down the time when you got bitten.

We hope you enjoyed this article. Thanks for reading!

Additionally, I want to suggest to you a few ways keep insects and animals out of your garden. Please read the following articles:

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