No matter how much you may fear snakes, or hate seeing them in your flower beds, don’t allow yourself to be fooled or lulled into a false sense of security by using commercial repellents. Don’t be taken in by manufacturer’s claims of snake repellent properties of any product -- it’s all bunk. It is true that the USDA has proven that substances containing eugenol are effective for chasing a snake away. But only if you spray the animal directly in the face with it, or fumigate an enclosed area. The same holds true for the old wive’s tales touting the virtues of home remedies -- which actually do contain large amounts of eugenol -- such as oils of clove, cinnamon, bay leaf, and nutmeg. Common sense and an understanding of the animals' habits will help keep your garden snake free.
Remove potentially snake-friendly shelters anywhere on your property. They don’t like areas where there’s no place to hide, and will likely seek more hospitable dwellings if you make yours unattractive to them. Haul away piles of anything -- rocks, lumber, brush, wood or debris are all inviting snake hiding places, particularly during the warmer months when they’re most active. Keep the grass and any tall vegetation on your property well mowed and trimmed.
Elevate materials that can’t be practically removed, such as stacks of firewood or compost bins. Firewood piles are excellent snake shelters, and compost bins are favorite egg-laying sites. Create a rack by placing a sheet of plywood on stacks of bricks or blocks at least 18 inches off of the ground. Snakes don’t care for habitats that aren’t in direct contact with the ground. Locate stacks as far away from your flower beds and the house as possible.
Check for other hiding places around buildings and structures where snakes can hide. Exclude them from holes by closing off any openings larger than ¼ inch. Secure hardware cloth into place with caulking. Bricks, boards, sheet metal and foam insulation can also be used effectively. Seal cracks with caulking or mortar.
Eliminate snake food from your flower bed. Besides the protective cover that foliage plants offer, your favorite plantings are most likely providing a smorgasbord. Snakes are carnivores that feed on insects, spiders, small birds and animals. The persistent presence of a snake may very well indicate infestations of garden pests. Get rid of bugs and rodents to deprive the unwanted reptile of good hunting opportunities, and it will be compelled to go looking elsewhere for meals.