The Popular Landscaping Plant Snakes Love To Hide In

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The Popular Landscaping Plant Snakes Love To Hide In

Snakes often like to hide in tall grass where they can wait for their prey, stalk them, and hide from predators. However, backyard lawns usually don’t grow tall enough to offer adequate visual protection, so snakes may instead take cover in holes or under logs. If you have ornamental grasses, especially pampas grass, you may be providing an ideal hiding place for snakes. Despite their popularity for their beautiful white, silver, and pink feather-like flowers, these grasses require careful attention to avoid attracting snakes. Signs of snakes include shed skin, feces, and snake holes.

Native to South America, pampas grass (Cortaderia selloana) can grow up to 10 feet tall, and expansive patches can fill your flowerbeds as they spread over 6 feet wide. This grass adds height to any landscape design, but its height and thick base make it a desirable hiding spot for snakes. If you intend to incorporate pampas grass into your landscaping, it’s important to control its growth and take extra steps to discourage snakes from making it their new home.

Properly caring for pampas grass can minimize snake risks

Trimming back pampas plants

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You don’t have to give up using this stunning ornamental plant in your landscaping just because you want to keep snakes at bay, but you do need to know how to care for pampas grass well. Start with a good pruning and cleaning out during the fall months. Pampas grass grows quickly and typically doesn’t need a lot of hands-on care during the growing season. However, when the foliage begins to dry during the fall months, it’s time to cut it back, leaving no more than about 8 inches of the plant’s fronds present. That may seem drastic, but it will help them to grow back in the spring. While pruning, take it one step further and clean out all of the dead organic material at the base of the plant. This is the ideal time to do a significant chop since the plant is entering its dormant period.

Don’t make the mistake of burning the stubs, though. This will create a matted material under the plant that will encourage snakes to hide. It’s also a good idea to remove any clumps or sprouts that have popped up outside of the main area. This is how the plant spreads, but keeping it more controlled minimizes the snake-like habitat. Without enough foliage to hide under, the snakes will move on.

Make the area less snake friendly

Pampas grass blowing

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Once the spring months come and this ornamental grass begins growing, you’ll need a few extra tips to minimize snakes and pests. The goal should always be the same: remove the habitat risks, eliminate any food source, and bring in more natural predators to target the unwanted snakes. Starting with a smaller, cleaned-up grass plant is the first step. Make sure to remove any leaves or other debris from the winter months that could be compacting around the base of the plant.

Work to eliminate food sources from the area, including the presence of rodents (attracted by bird feeders in your yard, luring in snakes after them). Work to improve the drainage around the plant, too. Pampas grass does best in well-draining soil, which is also less likely to attract snakes who prefer moist environments for their nests. Keep wood piles and mulch away from these plants, too. Mow your lawn around the plants, as that will limit the amount of space they have to hide.

If you’re really worried about snakes near your ornamental grass, consider adding a snake-proof fence around the exterior of your property. This type of fence will keep snakes out without requiring you to trim back the beautiful foliage and plumes created by pampas grass. Even then, it’s always a good idea to look carefully before you stick your hand into these plants.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.