Will planting garlic keep snakes away?

Snakes can be frightening and unwanted visitors in many yards and gardens. This leads many homeowners to search for natural ways to repel snakes from their properties. One home remedy that sometimes gets recommended is planting garlic, which is said to emit a strong scent that snakes dislike. But does planting garlic really work for snake control? Here’s a look at the evidence behind this claim.

Quick Answer

Planting garlic is not an effective way to repel snakes or keep them out of your yard. While garlic does produce a strong scent that snakes may avoid, simply having garlic plants is not enough to drive snakes away or prevent them from entering an area. More reliable snake deterrents include removing hiding spots, sealing entry points, using commercial repellents, and installing physical barriers.

Does Garlic Repel Snakes?

Garlic contains sulfur compounds that give it its characteristic strong, pungent smell. Some of these sulfur compounds may be irritating or repulsive to snakes when present in very high concentrations. However, there is little scientific evidence that simply having garlic plants in a yard will produce enough of these compounds to deter snakes.

One small study tested the effects of garlic extract sprayed around the perimeter of an enclosed outdoor area. The garlic extract provided some deterrence against garter snakes entering the area compared to water-only controls. However, the effects were temporary and variable between individual snakes. The concentration of garlic compounds was likely much higher from the extract spray than what garlic plants alone would emit.

Limitations of Garlic as a Snake Repellent

There are several factors that limit the effectiveness of garlic plants as a snake deterrent:

  • The sulfur compounds emitted by garlic are only released in high concentrations when garlic is crushed or damaged. Intact garlic plants have low emissions.
  • Garlic’s scent tends to only be strong within a foot or two of the plant. Snakes can easily slither past garlic planted around a yard perimeter.
  • Snakes may become accustomed to garlic scent over time, reducing any deterrent effects.
  • Moisture, high temperatures, and wind can all decrease garlic’s odor intensity in an outdoor environment.
  • Snakes are adept at hiding and stealthy movement, so garlic plants rarely create an impenetrable barrier against snakes.

For these reasons, simply planting garlic around your yard or garden is not likely to be an effective long-term snake deterrent in most cases.

More Effective Snake Deterrent Strategies

If you are concerned about snakes and want to reduce snake activity on your property, there are several more reliable deterrent options to consider:

Remove snake habitats and hiding spots

Snakes are attracted to areas that provide shelter for hiding and hunting. Removing debris piles, brush, wood piles, and dense vegetation denies snakes suitable habitat in your yard. Keeping your grass mowed short removes protective cover as well.

Seal possible entry points

Snakes can fit through very small gaps to access enclosed spaces. Seal any openings greater than 1/4 inch around foundations, doors, windows, pipes, and wiring to block snake entry. Use wire mesh, caulk, sealant foam, metal flashing, or other durable materials.

Install physical barriers

Fences, walls, and other physical barriers can be installed to prevent snakes from accessing certain areas. For maximum effectiveness, barriers should be made from solid materials and extend at least 12 inches underground, with an outward projecting ledge along the top edge.

Apply commercial snake repellents

There are a number of commercial snake repellent products available based on either natural or synthetic compounds. Look for EPA-registered products intended for snake control and apply according to label directions. Some options are naphthalene, sulfur, cinnamon oil, and clove oil repellents.

Use traps as a removal method

Humane snake traps or glue boards can be used to catch and remove snakes from an area. Experts recommend releasing snakes at least 5 miles from the capture site. Killing snakes is often ineffective since new individuals will continue moving in from surrounding areas.

Should I Plant Garlic to Repel Snakes?

Planting garlic around your yard is not going to create an effective barrier to keep snakes away. While it might mask human scent, the smell from garlic plants is simply not potent enough to strongly deter snakes. Relying solely on garlic would give a false sense of security against snake invasion.

That being said, incorporating garlic alongside other deterrents isn’t necessarily harmful. Garlic planting can act as one additional layer in a comprehensive snake deterrent plan. But investment should be focused on proven methods like removing habitat, sealing entries, barrier installation, and commercial repellents.

Key Points

  • Planting garlic alone will not repel snakes or prevent them from entering yards and gardens.
  • The scent emitted by intact garlic plants is too weak and localized to drive away snakes.
  • Removing snake habitats, sealing access, barriers, and commercial repellents are more reliable deterrents.
  • Garlic plants may add a small supplemental layer of deterrence but should not be the primary strategy.
  • A combination of deterrent methods is most effective for keeping snakes away from a property.
Deterrent Method Effectiveness Cost
Plant garlic Low Low
Remove snake habitats High Low
Seal entry points High Low
Install barriers High Moderate
Apply repellents Moderate Low
Use traps Moderate Low

This table summarizes the effectiveness and costs of different snake deterrent strategies for homeowners. Removing snake habitats, sealing access, and physical barriers tend to be the most effective while also being low or moderately priced. Commercial repellents and traps have moderate effectiveness. Garlic plants rank low in reliability for repelling snakes but require minimal investment.

The Bottom Line

Planting garlic in your yard or garden alone will not create an invisible forcefield against snakes. Its ability to repel snakes is limited compared to other more robust deterrent strategies. But incorporating garlic plants alongside other methods like removing habitats and sealing entry points can provide an extra layer of defense.

Rather than relying on a single tactic, the most effective approach against unwanted snakes is to combine multiple deterrents. A multi-pronged prevention plan that utilizes garlic as one component alongside other methods will offer the best protection.

So will planting garlic keep snakes away? On its own, no. But as part of a comprehensive deterrent strategy, garlic planting can contribute an extra bit of snake repelling power.

Leave a Comment