Q: I want to remove ivy from a steep shady bank but don’t know a plant that will hold the soil. Also the ivy is a haven for copperheads.
A: I think you are asking the impossible when looking for a replacement for ivy in deep shade. I can’t think of a plant that would cover the bank in the shade and slope conditions that you have. By their very nature “ground cover” plants grow close to the soil. This makes it a great space for small creatures like frogs, crickets, lizards, and other things to live. These are things that snakes like to eat, so they will drop by occasionally for a meal. There are no effective chemical snake repellents. The only way to repel snakes is to create an environment they don’t like. Try to keep your ivy around four inches high. This will make it less inviting for small creatures and will not provide much cover for snakes. Snakes like piles of logs and stones even more than they like groundcover. Eliminate those as well.