How to Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden Organically

How to Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden Organically

What attracts slugs to your garden in the first place?

Wet or damp soil is the number one thing that attracts slugs to the garden. Slugs tend to dry out very quickly, and they love living (and eating!) in a location that stays consistently moist.

We are big proponents of mulching to balance soil temperature, reduce weed competition, and retain moisture, but mulch can also increase slug populations because it helps retain moisture so well.

Growfully Protip

If you have slug issues in your garden, make sure to keep your mulch away from the base of the plant.

4. Get Rid of Slugs With Eggshells and Coffee Grounds

Serve your slugs their last breakfast. Collect eggshells and coffee grounds. Crush the eggshells, and then scatter the eggshells and coffee grounds around the area you want to protect from slugs. The coffee grounds are a natural pesticide against slugs, and crushed eggshells will cut up the undersides of any slug trying to go over it. The added benefit of this method is that both eggshells and coffee grounds are a great natural fertilizer for your garden.


12. Catch and release

If you would like to get rid of your garden slugs without harming them, consider the catch and release method.

This can be achieved using a variety of techniques, try one of these two to get started: 

  1. Place a shallow but wide dish near your garden and fill it with cat food or corn meal. This will lure the slugs to eat it, and you can simply scoop them up and move them.
  2. Strategically place logs throughout your garden. When the sun comes up, the slugs will seek a place to hide and stay cool. Each morning, lift the logs and gather the slugs hiding underneath.

Of course, you could also use these methods to catch the slugs and kill them if you prefer.

What Else Can I Do to Get Rid of Slugs?

Slugs can hide under larger wood bark mulch, but they dislike pine needles, making it a good choice where slugs are significant pests. Another method to protect plants is to sprinkle abrasives such as dry ashes or food-grade diatomaceous earth around plants. These abrasives are major irritants to slug skin. Slugs also like to congregate underneath outdoor decorative rugs on patios and decks. Sprinkling diatomaceous earth under the outer perimeter of the rug can help keep them at bay. Repeat periodically, as this abrasive becomes ineffective when wet.

9. Distract with companion plants

Since you can’t stop slugs from entering your garden altogether, some gardeners like to plant ‘companion plants’ which act as decoys to distract from your more precious items.

Companion planting involves planting slug-favorites close to plants you want for yourself.

For example, you might plant a few lettuces (a slug-favorite) around your strawberry patch to distract the slugs before they can make it to the sweet berries. 

Only do this if you know you already have slugs in the area. Otherwise, you might attract them into the part of the garden where you don’t want them.

What do slugs do and why getting rid of slugs, anyway?

Garden snails and slugs, just like other pests, come to the garden primarily in search for food. Finding shelter on hot sunny days is their additional motivation.

But do you really have to wonder how to get rid of snails as soon as you spot them? As for snails without shell, that is – slugs, it is recommended to act immediately. They are quite unique pests and their presence in the garden doesn’t bode well at all. Nonetheless, if you notice garden snails, you can hold for a while and observe their behaviour. Sometimes snails don’t prey on healthy plants and eat just scraps or naturally dying elements.

Interestingly enough, some snails can positively affect garden crops. They might eat weeds and their seeds. In this case, finding a way to kill snails is unnecessary.

How can I protect seedlings from slugs?

(Image credit: Future / Emma Lee)

Growing seeds in pots rather than sowing directly into the ground keeps them out of harm’s way until seedlings are a decent size and are better equipped to look after themselves. Protect young plants in a cold frame, greenhouse or a raised frame on a stand. Once planted out, cover with a cloche or with a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off and the top unscrewed until they’ve established. After that, they’re on their own.

See: How to get rid of wasps – follow these simple steps

1. Allow Natural Predators to Thrive

Since invasive species are not fun, we should all be wary of introducing new kinds of creatures to an ecosystem unless they are native and would be there anyway. That said, you can encourage native slug-hungry predators to inhabit your garden. For example, birds love slugs, so you could install a bird bath. Who else likes slugs? Ducks, chickens, nematodes, frogs, salamanders, newts, toads, snakes, turtles, hedgehogs, shrews, praying mantises, ground beetles, rove beetles, and fireflies, for starters.

4 Cheap Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Slugs

Okay, you tried preventative methods, and now you’re ready to get rid of slugs in your garden without the use of synthetic pesticides. Good news! There are a ton of ways to use traps and baits to reduce the slug population in your garden.

Manually Removing Slugs

As we’ve already talked about, slugs aren’t all bad! If you have a small infestation, just head out after dusk with a headlamp and pick those suckers off your plants. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them immediately, or move them to an area where birds and snakes can eat them—and the circle of life continues!

Plant Trap Crops

Planting trap crops is easily our favorite way to get rid of slugs and many other common garden pests. The gist is this: plant a crop that the slugs REALLY love to enjoy, they choose that plant from the garden buffet, and then you can sacrifice those plants and concentrate your slug removal methods there.

In general, slugs like to eat the tender leaves and shoots of new seedlings, but some plants are irresistible to slugs at any stage of growth. Slugs absolutely love to eat marigolds and basil. A robust border of either (or both) around your garden can go a long way to draw out slugs from your tender seedlings.

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

The most common piece of advice you’ll get when dealing with slugs is to put out beer traps. Beer traps are easy and cheap to make, and the traps work well because slugs are attracted to the scent of the yeast in the beer. However, we don’t recommend them as a first line of defense. These traps do drown and kill slugs, but they frequently also kill beneficial insects, so we recommend only going this route if you are dealing with an overwhelming infestation.

To make a beer trap, simply take a clean, shallow container (a cleaned-out tuna can, small yogurt container, or butter tub all work really well), and bury it in the ground with about an inch sticking up out of the soil. Fill the can with beer—any beer works, but slugs tend to really like the yeasty smell of darker beers—and then wait for the slugs to crawl in and meet their demise.

Growfully Protip

Empty and refill your beer traps regularly. Slugs are not as attracted to stale beer as they are freshly-poured.

For beer traps to be successful, you need to place them about every 3 feet—which can become quite costly and labor-intensive for larger growing spaces.

Grapefruit Traps to Get Rid of Slugs

Grapefruit (and other citrus fruit) traps are live traps that are less deadly to beneficial insects than beer traps. Enjoy yourself a half of a grapefruit—scooping out the flesh inside. Then place the empty grapefruit half upside down in your garden. Overnight, slugs will be attracted to the sweet scent and take cover in these citrus domes, and in the morning, you can remove the grapefruit half, take it far away from the garden, and feed the birds!

Growfully Protip

Half a hollowed-out cantaloupe and an orange rind also work well for the grapefruit trap method. Some folks also use upside-down flowerpots or bowls to achieve a similar trap.

What does slug damage look like?

Slugs are notorious for decimating young seedlings and many different tender-leaved plants. Here are some sure-fire signs that a garden slug control program is called for:

• If you come out to the garden in the morning and nothing remains of your seedlings but leaf mid-ribs and stumps, slugs are a likely culprit. • Perfect, round holes in tomatoes, strawberries, and other soft fruits can also indicate a need to learn how to get rid of slugs in the garden. • Ragged holes in leaf edges and centers is another sign of slugs. • Slime trails on plants, walls, rocks, or mulch are another tell-tale sign of slug troubles.

Chewed off seedlings with nothing but their mid-ri
Chewed off seedlings with nothing but their mid-ribs remaining are a sign of slug troubles.

How Can I Get Rid of Slugs?

  Ant Dust - While “ant” is in the nam
  • Ant Dust – While “ant” is in the name of TERRO® Ant Dust, this product is highly effective at eradicating a slug population. Just sprinkle the dust around the perimeter of the area you want to protect and it will start working as soon as a slug passes over the dust. For additional protection, sprinkle the Ant Dust in areas where slugs congregate to stay moist, including cracks in sidewalks, under boards and rocks, in leaf piles and so on.
  • Multi-Purpose Insect Bait or Perimeter Ant Bait Plus – Two other TERRO® products, Multi-Purpose Insect Bait and Perimeter Ant Bait Plus, should be used at the beginning of the season and every four weeks after. By broadcasting these granules in and around your ornamental plants, you will have your slug problem under control in no time.
  • Beer – Making a ‘Slug Pub’ is a moderately effective way to get rid of slugs. Start by sinking a small, but deep, bowl so its lip is flush with the ground and then filling it with beer. Slugs are attracted to the smell of yeast and come to feed. As we said, this method is only moderately successful as some of the slugs, but probably not even half of them, will slide into the beer and drown.
  • Ducks – Ducks are one of the few domesticated animals that eat slugs, so if you can make your yard duck friendly, you may be able to get your slug population under control. Of course, you’ll need to train those ducks to not eat your plants.
  • Slug hunts – Visit your garden or lawn at night and, armed with a flashlight, bucket and old fork, go on a slug hunt. Scoop up any slugs you see and deposit them in a bucket where they will drown in a soap-and-water solution.

3. Build a Sharp Barrier

A slug’s Achilles ankle is its soft body, easily irritated by sharp or dry materials. Use this to your advantage by sprinkling wood ashes, diatomaceous earth, gravel, or lava rock in a wide band around individual plants—or the entire garden—to discourage slugs, as they won’t want to crawl across the bumpy barrier. Wood ashes have the bonus benefit of adding potassium to your soil and raising the pH, so consider choosing that method as your first line of defense.


How too kill slugs – a slug beer trap

Perhaps you have heard that slugs and snails are real beer afficionados. They love its sweet taste and the smell spreading around. If you are wondering how to get rid of slugs effectively, consider making a slug beer trap. It is not too complicated to create, so you will surely succeed. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not the most humane method, as you simply drown the creatures. But if you have a real plague in your garden – anything goes, just like in a war.

Preparing a slug beer trap involves just a few steps:

  • Choose a medium-sized plastic container, where the caught-in-the-act slugs will end up.
  • Dig a hole in the ground, large enough to fit your container. It should poke about 1 cm above the ground.
  • Pour some beer into the container – 150-200 ml is well enough but the more you pour, the faster slugs will smell it and fall into the trap.

That’s really all you have to do. Make sure to empty the bucket from time to time and pour some fresh beer to lure more pests.

📍 Slugs in the garden – how to get rid of them?

You can use chemical products or home remedies to get rid of slugs in the garden. For a store-bought slug repellent, just go to a store where a specialist will tell you what to pick. If you want to use a homemade method, try baking soda, coffee or cinnamon. A beer trap is also a good slug killer.

📍 What do slugs do in the garden?

Slugs and snails in the garden usually appear when they search for food or shelter during hot and sunny days. You can also expect them if your garden is very humid and full of bushes and plant hideouts.

📍 What is a good slug repellent?

Slugs are repelled by various plants and herbs. Sage, chamomile, yarrow and wormwood are the most effective ones. You can also plant garlic or onions among vegetables to discourage the pests from exploring the area. Coffee grounds, cinnamon and soda spread on the ground are also good slug repellents.

📍 What do slugs eat in the garden?

Garden snails and slugs eat plants. There’s no problem if they choose some organic leftovers or dead parts of plants. Unfortunately, they also tend to eat healthy plants and flowers – that’s an issue. Snails without shell, that is, slugs are the biggest threat, as they are pests that eat plant roots as well.

Dorota Czerwińska                   Author


Dorota Czerwińska Author Dorota is an economist by profession, but her biggest hobby is photography and interior design. In Treehouse since the beginning of 2019. Contact:


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