How to Control Slugs and Snails In The Garden

Whether you are a beginner or a veteran gardener, a constant problem you will face is getting rid of slugs and snails in the garden.

From feasting on your homegrown vegetables to devouring your blooming flowers, there is almost nothing that these famous pests won’t touch.

But there are ways to control them, and the more skilled you are at managing these pests, the higher the chances that efforts will save your favorite plants and crops.

Types of Flowers Slugs and Snails Love To Eat

Before getting rid of these troublesome mollusks, you should know where they are most likely to strike.

Here are some of the most common plants and vegetables that attract slugs and snails:

  • Lettuces
  • Dahlias
  • Marigolds
  • Pepper
  • Cucumbers
  • Sunflowers
  • Cabbage – including sprouts
  • Strawberry
  • Carrots
  • Zucchini/Courgettes
  • Celery

The slugs will unsurprisingly go for the essential part of vegetables and fruits. For example with strawberries, they tend to devour the actual fruit rather than the green leaves.

brown snail crawling on red chili
Slugs will eat your peppers. Photo by Monika Baumgartner on

When Do You Know You Have a Pest Problem?

How do you know when you have a problem with pests like snails and slugs, and not just poor quality soil or poor conditions?

We have noticed that some of our vegetable garden plants, notably our runner beans, struggled to establish themselves. But they performed very well when we had planted the identical seeds in protected containers.

So what was happening here? Why were the beans struggling in the garden and not in the containers?

Leaves on the unprotected plants contained several small holes. These holes were a big clue as to who had been nibbling at them.

At this point, we could tell it was slug patrol time.

When the temperature rises, slugs and snails go for moist food in the early morning and late at night. They had found excellent conditions in our garden and spent the next few weeks nibbling on our runner beans.

plastic containers protecting plants in soil
Plastic Containers will protect your plants in the soil. Credit: Homesteadandchill

For those amateur detectives amongst us, you can also try looking for mucous trails created in your yard by silver/white snails as you build up your evidence against the slow-moving culprits.

How To Remove Slugs From The Garden Safely?

While this article is about removing slugs from the garden, we don’t want to forget or take for granted the critical role they play. Slugs help break down garden waste into a natural nitrogen-rich fertilizer. They also are a food source for other insects and animals that enrich your garden.

We don’t want to wipe out all the slugs and snails but control them, so they don’t ruin everything. So here are a few natural ways to control the slug population.


The first strategy to use is bagging. The simple bagging technique involves gathering slugs and snails in a waste bag. To start, pick the slimy pests from the areas that infest your garden. Next, place them in soapy water and do away with them.

If you know they are attacking your vegetables but can’t seem to find them, try looking in those awkward places. Gardens pests tend to hide in the corners of pots, under ledges, and on the undersides of your leaves.

If you still can’t spot them, try going out at night as they tend to strike under the cover of darkness. So pop that headlight on and get bagging those pests in the moonlight.

The Beer Trap

For many of our readers, the beer trap might have a completely different meaning, but in this context, it is an effective way of controlling your slug population.

Beer traps are an effective way to attract the slugs rather than playing hide and seek with them at night.

Fill a plastic cup halfway with beer, dig a hole, and set the cup in it to level the rim with the earth. The slugs are attracted to the smell of yeast from the beer and will fall into the cup.

filled clear glass
Slugs are attracted to the yeast in the beer. Photo by Michelle Riach on

While this is an effective way of managing the pests in your garden, it should only really be used as a last resort. The trap will remove a lot of the slugs and perhaps even other insects that are beneficial to the development of the garden, so please use it sparingly.

Another effective trap to the beer trap is to use grapefruit or any citrus fruit. Remove the flesh from half a grapefruit and leave it in your garden upside down. Similar to the “beer trap,” the slugs will be attracted to the sweet scent of grapefruit.

This method is so effective you may not believe how many slugs you will catch.

Copper Strips

You may buy copper rings and bend them around the base of your plants to make it more challenging for pests to crawl up. They function as a barrier between the plant and the troublesome night crawlers.

The copper strips provide a small electrical shock to any slug that comes in contact with it and acts as an effective deterrent. Ensure that the wire covers the ground around your plants and vegetables, as the slugs can get through the tiniest places.

With the price of copper rising, it may not be a cost-effective solution for every plant in your garden.

Remove Their Hiding Places

Slugs and snails require a place to hide in the daylight to prevent predators from seeing where they are – that is why you couldn’t find them during the day. Removing places where they may hide, such as stones, weeds, and covered areas can reduce their potential hiding spots.

brown snails on green plant
Snails hide in dark places. Photo by on


Pellets for snails and slugs are also available. The pellets contain molluscicides that poison the slugs and snails in your garden, killing them almost instantly. Make sure you keep children and animals at a safe distance when using poisonous chemicals outside.

Despite their danger to humans and animals, pellets are incredibly effective in maintaining your slug population and will astonish you the first time you use them.

How to Manage Slugs and Snails in the Garden

So far, we have tried several ways to eliminate the slugs in your garden outright.

However, despite the lousy reputation slugs and snails have, they play an essential role in the garden. So here are some ways to manage the garden slugs without ultimately killing them off.

Plant Snail Proof Plants

You can easily keep the slugs at bay by planting snail and slug-proof plants in between the ones they like. There are so many species that the slugs don’t go anywhere near, so the choices are up to you. Here are some examples:


We have already mentioned using copper wire as an effective barrier against our mollusk enemies, but there are more cost-effective ways to create barriers against them.

Effective, low-cost slug barriers include:

  • Crushed Eggshells
  • Grit
  • Bran
  • Wood-Ash
  • Soot
  • Salt
  • Petroleum Jelly when applied to a garden pot’s rim

Slugs and snails cannot navigate these materials, making them a great tool in your arsenal. Not only are they effective, but they won’t cost you much to implement as they are all relatively cheap substances compared to other slug repellent remedies.

snail barriers against lettuce leaves can be an effective option
Snail Barriers are incredibly effective. Credit:


Slugs may be controlled biologically by nematodes, which are tiny parasites. Nematodes are a bit more expensive than slug pellets, but they offer a safer, more effective, and organic way of controlling your pest problem. Also, unlike with pellets, you won’t have to keep your pets or children away from areas you use the nematodes as they don’t use toxic chemicals and only survive on specific pests.

Nematodes, instead, will kill your pests by releasing deadly bacteria into their bodies. Then, over 4-6 weeks, the bacteria eat away at their host until they die.

Treating your plants with Nematodes is a sophisticated form of pest control, and you must take care when implementing this method. To start, mix the Nematode powdered sachet with water in a watering can. From there, pour onto those plants you want to protect and ensure that the soil is moist for 4-6 weeks. The high level of moisture will make the nematodes more effective.

If using parasites does not appeal to you, another organic method is to let natural slug and snail predators room around your garden area. Chickens and ducks will sort out any slug infestation problem very quickly.


Make sure to dispose of your slugs naturally and effectively. For example, if you place them into a bucket of water, there is a good chance that they could escape and return to your plants. Saltwater is a more effective way to dispose of them.

Once the slugs have been killed, they can be allowed to decompose in compost, or you can feed them to your chickens and ducks. But, even if you just left them on a pathway, they will be eaten by the birds almost instantly.


We have gone through some of the best ways to control your snail and slug population. Some methods are more expensive than others, while some are more effective. Which one is best depends on how many you want to get rid of, which varies from garden to garden.

Let us know your thoughts on this article in the comments section below and if you have more tips!

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