Hi! I have thoroughly enjoyed my little black garden snakes for 15+ years - they’ve been in a certain relatively unused area of our yard (stacked rocks, old railroad tie wall, lots of sun). I accidentally exposed 3 little ones - 5 inches maybe - a month or so ago. Now there are the tell tale empty snake skins laying around. This fall that area is going to get plowed up and a new garage is going to be built there. I feel really bad for the snakes and want to know how to get them to move along prior to our build. Yes my friends do think I’m crazy ;-)
I love to hear from people who appreciate snakes. They are so good for the garden.
Now is the time we expect to see the neonates (this year's offspring). Without a picture of the snakes I cannot tell you what species they are, however here is what I would do to encourage them to move:
Remove all of the wonderful cover you have in the area where you are going to plow. That includes the railroad ties, rocks, weeds, branches and anything else they can use to hide in or under. If all that's left is bare dirt, the snakes wont spend much time there. One exception is if you have rodent burrows. In the summer heat, those are their favorite places to hide; cool, moist and even a few slugs to eat. Not much you can do about them.
Step two is to set up habitat in another section of your yard where they will want to move to. Rock or brush piles in a sunny location are perfect. This provides protection from predators. If you want them to stay year-round dig a large hole 14 inches deeps and then build your rock pile on top of it. During the winter they need to be able to escape the cold but unlike the Midwest, they do not have to go down far to be below the frost line. In the spring the rocks will warm and get them moving.
Good luck with the snakes... and the garage project!