Is there anything more frustrating than going outside in the morning to check your garden only to find all of your leaves and stems chewed up? Slugs and snails are often the culprits. In fact, they’re a major problem most gardeners face at some point in time, particularly when it comes to vegetable and herb gardens.
They’re great at hiding during the day, then going out to destroy your plants at night. So how do you get rid of slugs and snails naturally? While there are tons of slug and snail killing products available, many of them are toxic and damaging to beneficial insects and our waterways alike.
If you’re suffering from slugs and snails destroying the garden you’ve worked so hard on, try one of these 12 ways to get rid of them naturally. They’re effective enough to fix the problem!
1. Pick Them Off
This might be a gross remedy, but it works. Wait about an hour or two after the sun goes down, then go look at your garden. Bring a flashlight so you can properly see the offending critters.
You don’t need to use your bare hands. In fact, we recommend using a pair of tweezers or wearing latex gloves.
You’ll find more in their season:
They’re typically active from spring through fall, but they hibernate during the winter, so look for them when it starts to warm up. You can find them after dark, on cloudy days or before dawn.
Look under plants and any dark/shady areas, such as on the bottom of rocks. This is the best way to find them and pick them off, but you should also look for eggs.
When looking for eggs, keep in mind, they’re colorless and about the size of a BB ball. They usually appear in clusters under dirt or large leaves near the crown of plants.
Eggs are particularly common in the fall. You should also stay on the lookout for damage caused by slugs and snails. You’ll notice irregular chewed out spots on leaves.
Look on specific plants:
There are specific plants they’re more fond of, including basil, cabbage, strawberries, lettuce, hostas, dahlias, beans, citrus trees, and more. If you have lush or succulent plants, pay special attention to keeping them protected.
Another way to notice if they’re around is looking for trails. They typically leave a mucous trail that lubricates the areas they’re crawling.
2. Use a Natural Spray
Dr. Earth Spray, for example, is a great natural and organic pest control spray that helps to get rid of slugs and snails throughout your garden.
Make sure you don’t spray any natural pest control spray directly onto plants. If you do, you’re risking conditions like leaf burns that will impact your garden.
3. Put a Trap Down
If you’re the type of person who doesn’t want to kill these creatures (after all, they’re kind of cute, aren’t they?) try using a trap of some sort. For example, slugs love dark, damp hiding places.
Try a wet piece of wood near the area you see slugs gathering most often. They’ll likely hide underneath the trap. This means you can simply lift it up and remove the slugs in the morning.
4. Use Grapefruit Halves
This is a great trick that many people overlook. First, enjoy a grapefruit! Next, take the empty peel halves and place them open side down near the plants you’ve seen slugs and snails destroying.
They’ll hide underneath the domes, and in the morning, you can simply remove them. Alternatively, you can feed them to the birds! They’ll enjoy this delicious breakfast.
5. Employ Some Scratchy Surfaces
Fun fact: slugs and snails dislike scratchy surfaces. If you surround the affected area with scratchy surfaces, such as sandpaper or crushed eggshells, you’ll find a lot of them leave your garden fairly quickly.
Of course, this doesn’t kill them and they may come back. This method should be used as a first-resort to minimize the problem before trying other methods.
6. Set Up Beer Container Traps
This is another highly effective method. Look for a spot where you can bury a beer container. Make sure this is close to the affected area of your garden. Now, let the beer get stale and flat, then fill the container.
You’ll want it about an inch deep. Place this into your spot and bury it so the rim is level with the ground. The slugs and snails will drop into the trap.
7. Use Old Coffee Grounds
Who doesn’t love the smell of coffee grounds? Snugs and snails, actually! They really don’t enjoy the smell, which makes this method highly effective at getting them to leave your garden alone.
As an added bonus, coffee grounds will decompose and help keep your plants healthier than ever before.
8. Entice Natural Predators
This is one of the best methods for getting rid of slugs and snails. Birds absolutely adore pecking at them, so why not use them to your advantage? Set up a bird bath or a couple of bird feeders nearby.
They’ll come check out the area, and more than likely, eat most or all of your slugs and snails. It’s a win-win because you’ll get to enjoy the birds while they take care of your garden problem.
9. Try Some Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth, also known as insect dust, is a natural product that’s safe for consumption, but it works incredibly well as a barrier to annoying pests like slugs and snails. It features sharp, fine edges that slugs and snails dislike.
Sprinkle it around the affected area, but keep in mind, you’ll want to re-apply if it rains or you’ve watered your plants as it’s less effective when wet.
10. Use Copper Surfaces
Studies show slugs and snails don’t like copper surfaces. Why? Because it gives them a mild electrical shock when they crawl on it. Try using copper bands around your flower pots to deter them from destroying your plants.
You can even use copper attached to your grow-beds or greenhouse benches. If you don’t have access to pieces of copper, simply put a few pennies in the garden.
11. Spray a Vinegar/Water Solution
This is one of the easiest methods to get rid of slugs and snails. Simply mix equal parts water and vinegar in a bottle with a pump spray. When these pests are active, go out and spray them directly.
The vinegar will kill any slugs or snails you’ve sprayed, but be careful — it’s toxic to vegetation. You don’t want to spray directly onto your plants.
12. Use Human Hair Clippings
If you have a local hair salon or barber shop, ask them for some floor sweepings of human hair. You can sprinkle this around the base of your plants to help eliminate slugs and snails. How does this work? It’s simple.
Slugs and snails will get tangled up in the hair. Bonus: the hair will add nitrogen to the soil as it starts to decompose — making your plants even healthier.
Slugs and snails are annoying, and unfortunately, they’re one of the more difficult pests to control. The methods above will certainly help, but keep in mind, they’re hermaphrodites (female and male) so they can lay tons of eggs up to six times per year. This means you’ll want to use the methods above as soon as you notice them gathering in your garden.