Slug and Snail Free, Naturally

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Do you live in fear of these terrifying predators? Does your life revolve around finding ways to banish these destructive pests from your garden? Do you wander around your garden at dusk in your slippers clutching a pair of scissors and a pot?

Sounds like you might be a British gardener then!

I have been growing fruit and vegetables for over 20 years and I have tried hundreds of different ways to prevent slug and snail damage, sometimes with a little success. I don’t use slug pellets or any other pesticides in my garden, so any solution has to be natural.

I have compiled a few of the more successful methods I have tried over the years:

Physical barriers

These stop the slugs reaching the plants either because it’s uncomfortable to move over them, or because they cause an unpleasant reaction. Care must be taken not to poison plants with too much salt or coffee and, of course they will be washed away when it rains. For more information check out Eartheasy.

  • Copper wire
  • Sand and grit
  • Coffee grounds
  • Salt
  • Beer traps

Biological control

  • Nematodes- Slugs are subject to attack from a specific microscopic nematode called nemaslug. Watering these into the soil can keep beds slug free for up to six weeks, but  they don’t work on snails!
  • Some birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles eat slugs and these predators can easily be encouraged into your garden. Find out how here.

Chemical control

  • Organic slug pellets are based on ferric phosphate which is broken down by micro-organisms to iron and phosphate in the soil, both beneficial for plant growth.
  • Homemade slug sprays.  Make your own from organic soapnuts, find out more here.

But sometimes the only defence is offence!


I found these little blighters on one yukka plant, where they hid out during the day, coming out in the early evening to munch on any softer plants around them.

Collecting them up whilst they were all gathered together and, ahem, disposing of them helped rescue the seedlings nearby.

Retreat or defeat?


Other times it’s best to just accept defeat. That doesn’t mean giving in, simply adapt to your limitations and grow what you can.

With ornamental plants I am much more willing to do this. Instead of crying in your empty border over lost hostas, why not grow foxgloves or geraniums?

Check out this list or visit your local garden centre for advice on what to plant to outwit these fearsome beasts!


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