Slugs and Snails. Words that strike terror into the hearts of gardeners everywhere. The most feared of all the garden pests, slugs and snails can destroy plants and flowers in matter of hours and are notoriously difficult to control.
With their voracious appetite they will quickly strip a plant of its foliage, leaving destruction in their wake. So there’s little wonder that so many gardeners ask: “how can I make my garden slug and snail free?”
Well, although it’s difficult to rid a garden of slugs and snails completely, gardeners looking for slug and snail control methods have come up with some imaginative ways to deal with the pests.
Here are 10 of our favourite snail and slug control methods:
One of the simplest snail control methods is to move the pests to a new location.
And it seems this is a popular approach. In a survey commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, 22% of respondents admitted to throwing a snail into their neighbour’s garden.
But watch out, as well as making you unpopular with the neighbours, if you don’t move them far enough away you may find snails use their homing instinct to make their way back. The trick is to move them to a position that’s at least 65 feet away to stop them returning.
2. Beer traps
Creating beer traps is a slug control method that many gardeners swear by. Simply place a small amount of beer (or lager – slugs aren’t fussy) in a shallow container on the ground. The slugs are attracted to the beer, fall in and drown. You’ll need to set lots of traps however, as snails are only attracted from short distances.
3. Create a barrier
Slugs and snails hate crossing rough, sharp edges. This means you can create a barrier around plants using natural materials. Crushed egg shells, coffee grounds, gravel and straw are all worth experimenting with.
Copper tape can also be used as a barrier. Slugs and snails find the copper toxic and receive an electric shock when they cross it.
4. Slug Pellets
Slug pellets are one of the most effective and reliable slug control methods. However, some gardeners are wary about using toxic pesticides such as those found in slug pellets and prefer natural methods instead. To use slug pellets safely always read the instructions and keep out of the reach of pets and children.
Nematodes are micro-organisms that naturally occur in soil. They are parasitic and enter the slug’s body, infecting it with bacteria. Once infected, the slug will quickly stop eating your plants and will die within a week.
You can buy nematodes specifically as a slug and snail control method to to add to your soil.
6. Encourage predators to the garden
Lots of creatures love to feast on slugs and snails, including certain species of birds, newts and hedgehogs. Look at the different habitats within your garden and consider making changes to attract these natural predators.
7. Grapefruit halves
Place empty grapefruit halves around your garden to catch slugs. Slugs and snails are attracted to the dark, damp space and will hide underneath. You can then simply throw away the grapefruit skin along with the slugs – or pop them onto a bird table to give birds a feast.
8. Choose crops strategically
A simple way to out-smart slugs and snails is to deprive them of their favourite things. By choosing crops that slugs and snails are not so keen on, you can avoid the stress of trying to control the slug and snail populations.
Fuchsias, daffodils, roses and hydrangeas are all good choices. Slugs and snails are also deterred by strong smelling plants so herbs are usually safe too.
9. Round them up
You can entice slugs and snails to one specific spot in your garden by filling a shallow dish with cabbage leaves. The idea is the slugs and snails will come to munch on the leaves while ignoring your other plants and you can then easily throw them away.
Salt is a well-known slug and snail destroyer but it also alters the natural nutrient levels within your soil and can be harmful to plants so be careful where you use it. It can be useful to attack slugs on paths but you should combine with other methods that are kinder to your soil.
We hope this list of snail and slug control methods has helped you answer the question “How to make my garden slug and snail free.”
Do you have any other strategies that have worked in your garden? If so, we’d love to hear about them – simply post your suggestions in the comments below.