It is only when you have your garden looking really good and things are growing well that you start to notice how much of a pest slugs and snails can be.
When I am asked how to keep slugs and snails out of my house or out of a garden, the first question I ask is, what have you tried so far?
There are so many ways to keep slugs and snails from your home and garden that it is amazing.
People have their own preferred ways to prevent these pests from coming anywhere near their home or plants. You need to give some of these methods a go to see which suits you best.
Why do slugs come in the house
Slugs and snails both have a keen sense of smell, it may be that they can smell the food coming from your home or bins, or they may be attracted to a cold damp floor of an old house.
How to prevent slugs and snails coming into the house
You should track the path of the slug back from where you find it using a bright light or a torch as this will shine up the slimy trail. You will see how and where it got in, it does not take a very big hole to let a slug in- you should seal all the holes with a sealant like silicone.
Capturing Slugs and snails
You can try the methods below if you want to try to capture the pests before they get to your home or if they are being a nuisance around your plants/flowers.
Make a beer trap
You can make a beer trap by putting some beer in the bottom of a jam jar and burying the pot into the soil so the top is at ground level. They will follow the scent and fall into the beer below.
Put some cornmeal into a jam jar and lay it on its side. The slug/snail will eat the meal which will expand inside them. The cornmeal needs to be kept dry otherwise it doesn’t work.
Put some cabbage leaves under a piece of bark and go out late at night and collect them when they assemble. You can take them to a forest or park far enough away that they wont return.
You could just go out at night with a torch and look under leaves and around the base of plants to collect them. They shouldn’t be able to outrun you!
Detering slugs and snails.
Snails and slugs hate coffee. You could make a spray solution by mixing coffee and water and putting it into a spray container and spray this on the leaves of plants.
Keep your garden dry
These pests do not like dry soil – so try to water your plants early in the day so the soil has a chance to dry out during the day. Or if you can apply water only to localised areas of the plants around the base this is better than spraying water over the full area.
Try to keep the amount of organic material (leaves, straw mulch, twigs, bark) laying around your garden to a minimum. Mow your lawn regulary, get out and lift all the leaves etc from your flowerbeds and vegetable patches. This will remove food, shelter and help the soil to dry out. It will also tidy your garden so it’s a win, win method.
You can purchase a copper strip which works wonders by preventing the slugs and snails entering your garden. The copper strip emits salts when expose to the environment which when the slugs and snails touch it repels them. You simply install the strip around the area you want protected and let it do its work.
Create an organic barrier
You can create an organic barrier by placing a wall about an inch high around your intended area of the following materials to act as a barrier to the slugs and snails.
Crushed egg shells
Crushed sea shells
Slugs and snail do not like to travel over sharp objects so make your barrier at least 1-2 inches wide. This can be placed directly onto the soil. Another organic barrier you could try is a tea leave mulch.
You could also create a barrier to the plants by placing a barrier of salt around the plants you want to protect. You will need to place a wooden or plastic strip on the soil first and place your salt onto the strip as the salt needs to be kept dry. If the soil touches the soil it will dissolve it and bang goes your barrier. If you have strips about a couple of inches wide they should do the trick.
Plants which Repel Slugs and Snails
There are also some plants you could grow if you have problem areas in your garden.
For vegetable gardens it is a good idea to grow the following herbs- which have a natural deterent built in.
Ginger, Garlic, Chives, Basil, Parsley and chicory. Bitter greens such as Kale, Spring cabbage and brocolli. These can be grown around the outside of the more fragile plants such as lettuce etc.
There are certain species of plants you can plant in your flowerbed to deter slugs and snails, they are
Lavender, Majoram, Peony and Roses.
I have talked with a lot of people about how they had tried many forms of slug and snail control which they had varying degrees of success with but that the number one preventative measure they used was natural predators in their garden.
Ground beetles – you can introduce ground beetles into your garden and they will eat the slugs and snails.
The only problem with this is when the snail and slugs are all eaten the ground beetles will all die and if another influx of snails and slugs return they will have a major feast un-checked.
Birds- If you can encourage more bird to habitate in your garden you will noticed a large reduction in the numbers of snails and slugs.
By providing a bird feeder and a bird bath you can invite more birds to visit your garden and feast on your pests.
Having trees and or a hedge for them to nest in is an added bonus.
Toads. If you have a small decorative pond you could introduce frogs or toads. They love to eat slugs and snails and like birds require little attention on a day to day basis.
Spray with ammonia- By mixing 1 part domestic ammonia with 6 parts water you have an effective liquid which you can spray over the intended area to deter slugs and snails.
Iron phosphate pellets. There are various brands of iron phosphate pellets you can buy and sprinkle onto the soil in the effected areas.
The brands I’ve found to be most effective are Sluggo, Slug Magic and Escar Go. These are ingested by the slug or snail and within a week they are dead.
There is another chemical control called Metaldehyde, but I would avoid use of this chemical as it is very poisonous to dogs and our aim is to prevent slugs and snails not at the expense of other animals lives.