Noticed that snails and slugs are damaging your plants? This article explores the best ways to get rid of these pests from your garden.
While they pose no danger to you, snails and slugs can be bad news for the plants in your garden. These pests can eat large holes in the leaves of your plants and can devour the entire seedlings. At best, snails and slugs make your plants look unsightly. At worst, they can kill your greens.
If the snails and slugs in your outdoor space made you ask yourself, “How do I get rid of the snails in my garden?” you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading our guide to learn more about snails and slugs, why they terrorize your plants, and how to get rid of them in an eco-friendly way.
What Are Snails and Slugs?
- 1 What Are Snails and Slugs?
- 2 What Attracts Snails and Slugs in My Garden?
- 3 How to Make My Garden Less Attractive for Snails and Slugs?
- 4 Eco-Friendly Solutions to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs
- 4.1 Prevention first
- 4.2 Remove snails and slugs by hand
- 4.3 Cover your garden beds with layers of gravel, bark, and wood chips
- 4.4 Add copper to your garden
- 4.5 Choose plants that are resistant to these pests
- 4.6 Sprinkle broken eggshells on the ground
- 4.7 Prepare a homemade solution that wards off snails and slugs
- 4.8 Protect your essential greens with other plants
- 5 FAQs
If you haven’t been living under a rock your entire life, this isn’t the first time you see a snail or slug. So, chances are you know how they look like. However, you’ve probably never been interested in learning more about these pests until the moment they’ve started to damage your plants.
One thing is for sure: unlike other garden pests, snails and slugs aren’t insects. Garden snails and slugs are soft-bodied pests. They belong to the family of molluscs that also includes octopuses and oysters. The most visible difference between slugs and snails is the fact that snails have hard, protective external shells.
Fun facts about snails and slugs
- Slugs have green-coloured blood.
- Slugs live for about 6 years.
- Snails live between 2 to 5 years in the wild. In captivity, some snails have lived for nearly 15 years.
- Slugs have approximately 27,000 teeth.
- Slugs can live in almost every type of habitat, from deep in the ocean to deserts.
- Snails don’t change their shell when they mature. The shell of snails grows along with them.
- The size of the shell can indicate the age of the snail.
- Since they don’t have a protective shell as snails do, slugs typically feed at night or on rainy days when they are protected from the sunlight.
- Medical adhesives developed by researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital and MIT have been inspired by the stickiness of slugs’ and snails’ mucus.
- Some studies suggest that snail mucus may help with wound healing by triggering an immune response that encourages skin cells to regenerate.
- Garden snails typically eat from the same food source as other snails even when there are other sources of food available in the same space.
- The smallest species of land snail is so tiny that it could fit through the eye of a needle.
What Attracts Snails and Slugs in My Garden?
Having a slug or snail infestation in your garden is serious business resulting in slime trails, damaged leaves, and missing seedlings. Besides that, let’s be honest, they are also pretty disgusting.
If you really want to know how to get rid of snails and slugs in the garden, you first need to identify what has attracted them to your outdoor space. Only then can you understand how to keep them out of your yard efficiently.
Snails are attracted to several factors in an outdoor space, such as:
Since they are very sensitive to dehydration, snails choose outdoor spaces with moist or wet soil. Wet soil provides them with a favourable habitat to retain their body moisture.
Wooden logs and stones
Snails and slugs hide in damp places during the day to protect themselves from dehydration and other dangers. They typically hide under wooden logs or stones until nighttime when they come out to eat.
Tall vegetation is another perfect hiding spot for snails and slugs.
Plants with fleshy foliage and stem, such as shrubs, are also like a magnet for snails and slugs. That’s because snails and slugs are attracted to plants that hold the most water to stay hydrated.
How to Make My Garden Less Attractive for Snails and Slugs?
There are a number of reasons to want to get rid of the snails and slugs in your garden. Besides being unpleasant and damaging for the plants and crops in your outdoor space, they can also host parasites and microorganisms and wreak havoc on the water features in your garden.
Now that you know what attracts them to your outdoor space, it should be easier to understand how to make your garden less attractive to these pests.
Allow your soil to dry between waterings
As mentioned, snails and slugs are attracted to wet soil because it helps them stay properly hydrated. So, the first thing you’d want to do to make your garden less friendly for them is to remove some of the moisture in it. If your plants don’t require frequent watering and moist to wet soil to thrive, it’s best to avoid watering them too often.
Remove water features
For the same reason you should avoid having wet soil in your garden, you should also remove water features that could attract snails or slugs. If you have wet areas around your outdoor space like birdbaths or koi ponds, better get rid of them, at least until you get rid of these pests.
Get rid of large rocks
Large rocks are perfect hiding spots for snails and slugs during the day. To eliminate all hiding spots for these pests, make sure that you don’t have any large rock lying around in your yard.
Mow the lawn
Snails and slugs also like to hide in tall grass. Make sure you mow the lawn frequently to keep it short and trim.
Choose highly-scented plants
Slugs and snails don’t like highly-scented plants like lavender or rosemary to be near their food sources. Choose plants that have a strong scent and plant them near the greens you want to protect.
Eco-Friendly Solutions to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs
We know that seeing your plants destroyed by snails and slugs can be really frustrating. However, find out that there are eco-friendly solutions that can help you get rid of these pests without hurting them or the plants in your garden.
Here’s what you can do to get rid of snails and slugs from your garden:
If you’re not already dealing with a severe snail and slug infestation, maybe you can keep these pests out of your outdoor space with some prevention methods. Here’s what you can do:
- Don’t water your plants late in the day.
- Choose to use drip irrigation instead of overhead irrigation. This will keep your plants hydrated from the root and helps you avoid watering the foliage.
- Choose plants that attract predators that eat snails and slugs. More precisely, encourage birds, ground beetles, snakes, turtles, or squirrels.
Remove snails and slugs by hand
If you’ve already noticed snail or slug damage on your plants, you’re probably already dealing with a severe infestation, meaning that prevention methods won’t do much to save your plants in time.
One eco-friendly method to get rid of these pests is to remove them by hand. Take them off your plants, gather them in a container and remove them from your garden. Now, the challenge is that snails and slugs come out during the night to eat. So, you’re going to need a flashlight for your night snail or slug hunt.
Cover your garden beds with layers of gravel, bark, and wood chips
Another eco-friendly option you have to remove these pests from your outdoor space is to cover your flower beds with layers of gravel, bark, wood chips, or whatever makes it more difficult for snails and slugs to move around.
Snails and slugs don’t like to have to struggle to slide their way over an uneven surface. So, covering your garden beds with such materials will help lower the chances for your plants to be eaten by these pests.
Add copper to your garden
Here’s another fun fact about snails and slugs: when their slime touches copper, they feel something similar to an uncomfortable electrical shock that makes them stay away from that area. This means that if snails or slugs find copper in your garden, they’ll likely go away to find food in other areas.
How can you add copper to your garden? You have two options:
You can use adhesive copper tape to surround your garden. Simply run the tape along the edges of your garden beds. This will keep snails from entering.
Throw around some copper pennies near the plants you want to protect.
Choose plants that are resistant to these pests
If the slugs and snails in your garden make you go mad and these pests have already destroyed your plants, choose to replace your greens with plants that are resistant to these pests.
Some plants have been found pretty resistant to snail and slug damage. So, if you really can’t get these pests out of your garden, replace your plants with ones that don’t mind the presence of snails and slugs.
Slug- and snail-proof plants include:
- Japanese anemone
Sprinkle broken eggshells on the ground
Broken eggshells have sharp edges that will hurt snails and slugs if they try to slide over them. So, don’t throw your eggshells leftover from breakfast from now on. Gather them and sprinkle them around your plants to prevent these pests from crawling their way to them.
Besides keeping snails and slugs away, broken eggshells will also be beneficial to your plants. When they break down, they add nutrients to your soil.
Prepare a homemade solution that wards off snails and slugs
Another way to keep snails and slugs away from your garden is to spray your plants with a homemade snail repellent.
You can prepare a homemade solution to keep these pests away using garlic and water or cold coffee. Pour it in a spray bottle and mist your plants with the mix. To ensure that you won’t be hurting these pests but only encourage them to leave your garden, don’t spray cold coffee directly on them. Only spray your plants’ foliage.
Protect your essential greens with other plants
In other words, choose some plants that you don’t mind being damaged by snails and slugs. There are called “trap” plants. They attract these pests to them, keeping your important greens protected from slug or snail damage.
Do you have more questions about snails and slugs and why they are a threat to your garden? Here are the answers to the most frequently asked questions about snails and slugs.
What do snails/ slugs eat?
Snails and slugs can eat almost anything from decaying waste from plants to other animals. They can eat worms, vegetation, rotting vegetation, animal waste, fungus, and even other snails.
Is a garden snail dangerous?
It depends on who or what. Garden snails aren’t dangerous for humans. However, they do pose a real threat to all the plants you have in your outdoor space.
What do snail eggs look like?
Snail eggs are often found lying on the surface of the soil, covered by leaf litter or other organic debris, or under the leaves of your garden plants. You can recognize them for their slightly gummy appearance and their brownish-grey colour. Snail egg identification is a great start to get rid of these pests from your garden and protect your plants.
When do garden snail eggs hatch?
One snail can lay about 80 eggs in your garden 3-6 days after mating. The eggs hatch two weeks later. Egg-laying typically happens in the cold season, but the process can continue for as long as the soil remains moist. During a year period, a snail can produce approximately six batches of eggs.
What does snail/ slug damage look like?
The most apparent signs of slug or snail infestation are the slimy trails on plants, walls, or rocks, which can be visible for several days. Another obvious indicator of the presence of snails or slugs in the garden is the damage to plants which can mean ragged holes in leaf edges and centres.
Let us know how you managed to get rid of your snail/slug garden infestation in the comments below!