All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails

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Slugs and snails can quickly wreak havoc on your garden and flowerbed, eating their way through the foliage, fruits, and vegetables. The following tips keep these garden raiders at bay without using chemical products.

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Nobody likes to take an early morning garden stroll, cup of coffee in hand, to discover some night raider has made short work of their plants. Standing there, fuming at large holes in their tender, low-lying leaves, vegetables, ripening fruit, and soft herbs, they vow to wage war on the destructive snails and slugs.

If you’re battling slugs and snails in the garden, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, gardens are prime spots for these tiny tormentors. They love dark, damp spaces filled with ample decomposing plant material and green foliage. Mainly active at night, they attack almost all garden plants and can be problematic during the day when the canopy closes and shades the soil.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails

The most productive control method is going to the garden about two hours after sunset and using a headlamp or flashlight to handpick slugs and snails from the soil and plants. If that doesn’t sound like a great way to spend your evening, you can choose to apply commercial pest products or opt for natural ways to keep them out of the garden and away from your plants.

Natural Remedies

Commercial products are appealing to many gardeners because they are effective. They don’t come without downfalls, though. These products are usually expensive, unnecessarily toxic, and they often harm beneficial insects and animals instead of targeting slugs and snails. If you’re looking for cheaper, non-toxic, and primarily non-lethal control methods, the following remedies can help keep your garden free of pesky, slimy intruders.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Water in the Morning

Slugs and snails are primarily active at night, and it is more difficult for them to move across dry soil. This is why watering in the morning is a great way to guard against them. When you water early in the day, the top layer of soil can dry out before nighttime, making it difficult for them to reach your plants.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Remove Daytime Habitat

If there isn’t a habitat close to your garden plants, snails and slugs don’t have a place to hang out during the day. Since they move so slowly, they may not have time at night to wriggle to your garden. Get rid of tall weeds, low-growing branches, or anything with its bottom close to the ground like boards, debris, and garden decor.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Apply Adhesive Copper Tape

Due to something in their slime, when snails and slugs touch anything copper, they receive an uncomfortable shock that encourages them to turn away quickly. You can purchase copper tape at garden centers, home improvement stores, or online. Simply adhere the tape along the edges of your garden or raised beds to deter the gastropods.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Plant Herbs as a Barrier

Herbs are pest deterrents because of their intense aroma and are often used to keep insect pests away from tender plants. If you were planning on planting mint, lavender, parsley, sage, rosemary, or creeping thyme this year, place them in a border around your garden. The heady aromas will ward off the midnight marauders.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Sway Them With Sacrificial Plants

Using the bait-and-switch method helps keep slugs and snails away from your plants too. Plant sacrificial plants, or trap plants, to attract the pests elsewhere. Lettuce is one of the best veggies to use. Snails like lettuce more than other plants, so they’ll dine there and typically leave your other plants alone.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Add Some Chickens

Most gardeners know chickens are remarkable for their garden. They provide manure, lay eggs, and turn the soil. They’re also really helpful at keeping unwanted pests and insects, including snails and slugs, under control. Chickens love to dine on these tasty treats and will keep your garden free of unwanted intruders. Purchase birds from a local feed store, or adopt some that are up for rescue in your area.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural product consisting of crushed diatom fossils. When in a powdered form, silica shards cup up the tender bellies as slugs and snails crawl through it. Sprinkle a layer of DE around your plants in between waterings. This barrier is like a miniature electric fence designed to keep the bad guys out of the garden!

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Crushed Eggshells

Sprinkling crushed eggshells around your plants is another great deterrent, and it’s a fantastic way to keep from throwing food waste in the garbage. (Eggshells also come free of charge if you buy chickens!) The sharp edges of the eggshells are painful to slither over. Eventually, they’ll also break down and add nutrients to the garden soil.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Coffee Grounds

Scientists have determined that caffeine is highly toxic to slugs and snails. Instead of throwing your used coffee grounds in the trash, sprinkle them around the base of your plants as a repellent. The grounds will also add an extra boost of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to the soil.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Plant Marigolds Away From the Garden

Marigolds are a main player in natural pest control options and are often planted to keep bugs away. In this case, snails are attracted to them. So instead of planting them close to your garden, plant marigolds away from it to lure slugs and snails to a more desired food source.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Homemade Pest Repellent

To create a non-lethal deterrent, pour cold coffee into a spray bottle or mix water and garlic in one. Spray either liquid on and around your plants, letting the strong scent turn snails and slugs in the opposite direction. You can also spray coffee directly on them to kill them.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
In-Ground Liquid Traps

In the case of a severe infestation, trapping may be the best solution, especially if your stomach doesn’t feel up to picking them off by hand after nightfall. One of the easiest trapping methods is to sink shallow containers — the bottom half of a beer can — filled with beer into the ground. The scent of the yeast lures in pests, and they fall into the liquid, unable to escape.

All-Natural Tips for Guarding Against Slugs and Snails
Conclusion

You don’t need to rely on chemicals to keep your garden free of snails and slugs and safeguard your plants from looking like Swiss cheese! Whether it be using aromatic herbs, buying yourself a couple of chickens, or sprinkling used coffee grounds on the soil, there are plenty of natural ways to deter them away from plants while protecting beneficial insects and animals.