I think one of the most feared and less known about creature in our gardens and yards is a slinky creature known as a snake. Most common garden snakes are not poisonous and are actually beneficial to your yard or garden. Some people actually find them as welcome visitors as they help control bugs and rodents.
However, most people have a natural fear of snakes and would prefer they set up house elsewhere. There is no actual repellent that I know of that really works however there are steps you can take to make your garden less inviting to them. One thing snakes love to do is to sun themselves. Since they are cold-blooded reptiles, you will often see them curled up on stones in your garden trying to catch a few rays. Removing the stones, especially if they are in a sunny place, may help to discourage them from hanging around. Snakes also love to hide in cool damp places like cinder blocks and stonewalls. This type of scenario may help be an attractant to your garden. They also will be attracted by saucers or pots that are not being used especially if they have water in them. I have also heard of snakes hiding in gopher tunnels so removing them from your yard may help deter them. Remember, most snakes are your friends and they usually will try to stay as far away from you as possible. Sometimes, however, an unexpected encounter can be inevitable.
With the tropics reaching the peak season, please remember to check your yard for hidden dangers and to be sure to review your plans on how to best hurricane proof your yard. One point to consider when checking your property is to look for areas that are known flood plains in your yard. If you have such an area and a large tree happens to reside in the middle of the flood plain, it has a risk of toppling. When the ground around a tree becomes saturated with moisture, the area around the tree will become very unstable. This instability coupled with the high winds of a tropical system can cause even a normally stable tree to topple. This inspection is especially important if the tree resides next to a structure. In this case, properly pruning your tree may not only save your tree, but it might also save your home from the damage of a downed tree. Also be aware of any diseased or decaying trees as these can also cause a hazard.
The next step you should take is to take a tour of your yard and make a list of items that would be dangerous to leave lying around. This list should include patio furniture, loose garden ornaments, small potted plants, yard torches, arbors and even your gas grill. If you have a shed or gazebo, you might want to add extra tie downs to be sure they stay put and don't wind up in Kansas. You can start early by limiting what you keep out in your yard during the peak months of August and September.
If you own a swimming pool, you can throw all your patio furniture into the pool to help keep it from traveling across the state.
If you are a nature lover, most likely you have a bird feeder hanging in your yard. Now is the time to do some housekeeping so your feathered friends have a safe and clean place to eat. Clean your bird feeder with a mixture of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Be sure to remove all droppings from the perches and throw away any old food that might be moldy and refill it with fresh treats. Be sure to rinse the feeder well after treating it with the bleach solution. This will ensure your birds will have a disease free environment in which to dine.
Joe Zelenak has more than 30 years experience in gardening and landscape. Send e-mails to email@example.com or visit his website www.hometowngarden.com..