First study up on snakes in yor area. Garden Snakes as we called them in Pa. will not harm you but Rattlers will. Next always wear ‘stiff’ (hard to penetrate) clothing and hip boots(are best but wear closed toe shoes at least) when doing yard work and very sturdy gloves. Prior to putting your hands inside anything use a rake or other long handled object to move it so you can see inside. As you work and clear your Yard snakes will move out. They hate people. Also do heavy duty clearing in the winter when it is cold. Snakes will be much slower if you run into one then. Plus they usually go under ground when it gets cold. Do a web search on snakes to verfy what I have said and to find more ideas. As for your fear only time and determination to get over it will help (in my opinion).