How to Keep Slugs Out of Your Garden

How to Keep Slugs Out of Your Garden

Silver Trails and garden devestation slugs and snails in thegarden, now what?

Slugs and snails are a lot like us in that they find the produce we are growing in our gardens delicious! The problem of course is that we are probably not growing that produce for them, we are growing it for ourselves, our family, our friends and our neighbors…so how do we get rid of them without impacting our plants?

There are several different ways to keep slugs and snails off of your plants and out of your garden. The following methods are wonderful, natural alternatives to any number of harsh chemical applications available on the market.

7. Set up a slug bar

You know I had to mention everyone’s favorite/least favorite slug control: beer-baited traps. Yes, no list of tips on how to get rid of slugs in the garden is complete without a mention of beer traps. Plastic traps like these or these are baited with beer (non-alcoholic works best). The yeast in the beer attracts slugs who then fall in and drown. It works, but it’s also incredibly gross. In order to prevent a festering pile of slug corpse-infused beer, be sure to empty and re-bait the traps daily.


What repels slugs in the garden?

We believe that whenever you’re dealing with a pest, repelling them should be your first line of defense. After all, pests are only pests because they are eating your garden plants! When they aren’t eating your strawberries, slugs are an important part of the ecosystem—so let’s try to keep them that way.

There are multiple different ways of repelling slugs, so you’ll have lots of options to try to figure out what works best for your garden!

3 Ways to Naturally Repel Slugs (Preventative Meas

3 Ways to Naturally Repel Slugs (Preventative Measures)

Create a Barrier: Slugs crawl everywhere, and their soft, sensitive bodies do not like to crawl over anything that irritates their skin. Use this to your advantage by circling your plants with a barrier that causes the slugs to turn around and head in the other direction. Coffee grounds, wood ashes, sand, crushed eggshells, and diatomaceous earth (DE) all do this when sprinkled around plants—with DE being the most deadly. Another barrier option is copper tape or copper wire. You place the tape or wire around your plants or garden beds, and when the slug crawls across it, it is given a small electrical shock that is very uncomfortable.

Remove Garden Debris: If you have consistent problems with slugs, after the soil has thawed in the spring, you want to begin to remove garden debris like leaf litter or mulch. Slugs not only like to live in the garden debris, but they also lay their eggs in it.

Increase Populations of Natural Predators with Companion Plants: Slugs are a favorite food of snakes, toads, frogs, beetles, and other beneficial insects. Ground beetles are a common predator of garden slugs, and planting white clover in your garden can help increase ground beetle populations.

Disrupt and Displace

A good starting point for your slug and snail management program is to disrupt and remove their daytime hidey-holes, to the greatest extent that you’re able to.

Preferred hangouts can be a tall stand of weeds or the underside of just about anything on or close to the ground – particularly in moist, shady areas.

Underneath boards, garden decor, planters, ledges, decks, low-growing branches, pot rims, debris, and protective ground covers are all prime real estate for gastropods.

To disrupt their environment, undercut low branches, burn weeds with a weed torch or trim weeds close to the ground, and remove any unnecessary material they can hide under.

Obviously, some areas like rock walls, decks, meter boxes, permanent bird feeders, and so on can’t be removed – but these spots make good locations to bait and trap.

3. Water your garden in the morning

We know that snails do most of their garden destruction at night. We also know that snails have more difficulty getting around on dry soil than they do on moist soil. So, if we put these two pieces of knowledge together, we have another way to keep snails and slugs out of your garden: watering early in the morning. This gives the top layer of soil more time to dry out before nightfall, which makes it more difficult for snails and slugs to get to your plants.

5. Use Broken Eggshells

Scatter broken eggshells in a perimeter around slug favorites. The sharp edges are not comfortable on those soft slimy bodies. The eggshells will decompose and benefit the soil, as well.

8. Make Tiny Copper Fences

Lore has it that copper shocks slugs; though I haven’t seen much science behind that theory. Whatever the magic, copper tubing, flashing, or tape works as an excellent barrier in keep slugs at bay. You can put it around certain plants or around whole beds – just be sure to have previously trapped all the slugs within the fenced area first.

What kind of damage do slugs do?

Slugs will eat any kind of foliage, but you’ll often find them doing the most damage to the tender leaves and stems of seedlings. Slugs will also take bites out of vegetables and fruits (particularly soft fruits like strawberries), causing unsightly crops.


Gastropods have delicate tummy tissue, and any sharp materials will irritate and potentially cut their tender undersides.

For an extra layer of defense, build a small berm at least three inches wide with fine stone chips, crushed egg shells, diatomaceous earth (DE), or crushed oyster and clam shells.

Diatomaceous earth is derived from silicon dioxide and has sharp, abrasive edges. But it must remain dry to deter gliding gastropods.

Use food grade DE, not the material used in aquariums (which has smoother edges), and follow instructions when applying.

2. Crack Open a Cold One

Slugs like beer as much as they like the leafy greens of your garden plants. Crack open a beer and pour it into a few margarine tubs, then distribute the containers in various places around the yard, burying them so that about an inch remains above ground. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the tubs, and drown overnight. Dispose of the containers the next morning in your trash or compost bin.

A few more tips on how to get rid of slugs in the garden

In addition to these “power 8” ways to get rid of slugs in the garden naturally, there are a few other tricks you can try, though their effectiveness is debatable.

Diatomaceous earth has long been touted as a great slug control. It’s a fine powder that is very sharp microscopically and the edges easily cut through slug skin and desiccate them as they crawl over it. The trouble is that as soon as diatomaceous earth gets wet, it’s rendered useless. I don’t know many gardeners who have time to make a circle of dust around every plant and then replenish it after every rain or heavy dew. • A hearty sprinkle of salt, placed directly on a slug’s body, may desiccate it enough to lead to its death, but there’s a good chance the slug will simply shed its slime layer along with the salt and carry on as usual. I’ve seen it happen so many times that I put aside my salt shaker long ago. • And lastly, sharp-edged items, such as sweet gum seed pods, crushed eggshells, and dried coffee grounds have all been touted as great slug deterrents. I respectfully disagree and so do several studies.

I’m so board

A board on the ground in a shady spot might not look like much to you, but to slugs, it looks like a great place to spend the day. Tuck a 1- or 2-ft.-long piece of board under plants to create a moist, shady hiding place that’ll attract lots of slugs. Slugs are active at night, but during hot days, they retreat under mulch, rocks…or board traps. Check the trap in the afternoon, when slugs are enjoying their siesta under your board.

Once you’ve coaxed slugs away from your plants, you don’t want them sneaking back on to tender leaves the minute your back is turned. These easy barriers will keep the pests at a distance.

4. Construct a Fruity Trap

Next time you snack on a citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange, unpeel the rind carefully so you can keep one bowl-shaped half in tact. Poke a hole that’s large enough for a slug to fit through, and then sit the fruit upside down like a dome in your garden. The sweet scent will lure slugs in, distracting them from their usual meal: your plants. If a predator doesn’t get to them first, collect the fruit scraps the next morning and kill any live slugs by dumping them into a container of soapy water.

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