Ground cover and Copperhead snakes

almattJune 20, 2007

I just moved into a new house and had been planning to plant an area with periwinkle as a groundcover. But then my neighbor mentioned that they'd killed two copperhead snakes that week (in the Washington, DC suburbs).

Would a low ground cover such as vinca provide the type of hiding place a snake likes?

I really don't want poisonous snakes in the yard where my kid plays, so if I can avoid turning my yard into a snake-friendly habitat, I'd be curious for any suggestions. The bed I was going to cover with periwinkle is a partially shady slope under pines and dogwoods.

Thanks for any advice.

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

contact your local soil conservation district .. in the white pages under US GVMT .... they will be much more attuned to your area and your snakes .... or will be able to refer you in the proper direction ....


    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 8:27AM
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livingdedgrrl(z5 OH)

I would definitely call the local cooperative extension service on that one, just to make sure.

The snakes may re-locate themselves, especially if you are a busy family that's always out in the yard. People and pets make too much noise and scare all the prey away. When a Copperhead is feels threatened, it freezes in place. It may shake it's tail, and it uses its bite as a last resort. Depending on how industrious your garden is, they may grow weary of spending all their time sitting totally still, and just give up and go somewhere else. Ask your neighbors if finding Copperheads is a common thing around there. Sometimes they may wander into our living spaces accidentally because they're looking for food there. Copperheads are very successful snakes, so they still might linger in suburban areas.

And yes, they really do LIKE viney ground cover. It's perfect for them. Instead of a vinca, I'd try something like a Chameleon flower (Houttuynia cordata). They're absolutely gorgeous and spread like crazy. I've heard warnings of planting them in perennial beds, but I have them in there and I've never had a problem with the roots widing around my other plants.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 10:51AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

NEVER ...EVER .... plant .... Chameleon flower (Houttuynia cordata)

took me 5 years to kill it... it is totally invasive .... and untamable ....

IN MY OPINION .... its a plant to give to your enemies .... not something you would give to a friend ...


    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 11:16AM
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ole_dawg(7 UpCountry SC)

Is the house new construction? Are there any woods near by? Do you have a problem with rodents, rats? Think like a snake. If what they eat is not available you will not have a problem. I live on the edge of a large field and also the edge of a woodland area and I have had no snake problems. This does not mean that they are not there, but I watch where I put my hands and feet. I also have a cat that hunts down all the rodents here abouts. If you have a dog or cat chances are that they will be active enough to discourage snakes remaining in the area. I was bitten when I was a young man and I don't like snakes, but I don't let the possibility of them being near by keep me from enjoying my garden and the woods. I just keep my mind and eyes active. Children should be educated about snakes if you feel there may be a problem. IMHO

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 1:05PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I am not suggesting that this is the case here, but most of the 'poisonous' snakes I've been asked to identify over the years aren't. Aren't poisonous, I mean. Something to think about, anyway.

Know, too, that your best way to avoid being startled by a snake (good OR bad) is to let it know that you're coming. They don't have ears, but can detect vibrations from quite far. Stomping around before entering the garden will give them time to skedaddle.

Unless, of course, you have an especially tame-able king snake or garter snake. ;-) I had one follow me around in the garden regularly, knowing that I'd be scaring up critters in my wake.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2007 at 4:37PM
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