How to deal with slugs & snails


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It’s a common problem: not long after your garden has begun to bloom do you begin to notice the small, irregular-shaped holes that appear in the leaves and the sparkly slime trails left across your flower beds indicating that your beautiful flowers have become prime targets for slugs and snails.

But how do you deal with these hungry pests? You’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of solutions, and we’re here to help you deal with them quickly and effectively.

Use household food & drink

Buried jars of beer are irresistible to slugs and snails, and they will often leave plants well alone and head for the beer, falling in and drowning. Slugs also love to eat bran and will happily gorge themselves on it; however, this treatment is less effective on snails.

Plants in pots can also be protected by greasing the rim with Vaseline mixed with salt. As the slugs and snails slither up the side of the pot they take up the salt, which stops them by dehydrating them.

Make a barrier

A common treatment for slugs and snails is to create a barrier around your plants using sharp grit or broken egg shells that is uncomfortable for them to cross. If you are going to try this method you need to make sure the barrier is at least 5cm wide and has no gaps. But be aware that if it’s a really tasty plant, even a rough barrier won’t stop these determined pests from getting to it.

Slugs and snails aren’t able to cross copper-impregnated bands as their slime creates a chemical reaction with the metal that gives them a little electric shock if they attempt to cross it. Get a roll of copper tape and wrap a length of it around the top of your pots (making sure it goes fully around the circumference with no gap) to prevent them from being able to get to your plants.

A helping hand from Mother Nature

You can buy nematodes (microscopic creatures), which aggressively search out and attack slugs. They’re a natural, non-toxic control method that’s safe for both users and wildlife. The nematodes stay active for about 6 weeks so a single dose protects plants when they are emerging in the spring and are most vulnerable.

Nematodes can only be used in spring and summer when the soil is warm, but they’re the best method of controlling underground keel slugs which rarely come to the surface.

Scatter slug pellets

Slug pellets are probably the easiest ways of dealing with slugs and snails. They come in a variety of forms, the most familiar being little blue pellets that you scatter around your garden. Slug pellets are also available in organic forms, that makes them more suitable to be used in gardens where young children or pets are around.

Slug control is also available in liquid form. These liquids can be diluted in water and distributed around the garden using a watering can to effectively deal with slugs and snails living below the surface of the soil.

Whichever type of slug treatment you choose, always make sure to read the instructions before using them.

Patrol your garden at night

Slugs and snails feed at night, so if all else fails one way to deal with them is to head out into your garden with a torch and simply pick them off your plants. However, if you can’t bear the idea of touching a slug or snail why not wear some gardening gloves?

Top tip

Check it’s not caterpillars eating your plants. They damage leaves in a similar way to slugs and snails, but need to be dealt with differently. If you spot tiny black balls of waste matter, you’ve got caterpillars. To get rid of them try either picking them off, or spraying them with a jet of water.

Tools for the job

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