How to Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden Naturally

Friday, 29 May 2020 11:58:38 Europe/London

how to get rid of slugs in the garden

Slugs can be a big pain for gardeners, and they love to eat holes through your plants leaves, stems, flowers, roots, tubers and bulbs. 

In this article we will explain some different effective organic and natural slug control that is both manageable and affordable to help get rid of slugs in your house, garden, kitchen or patio.

Why do I have so many slugs in my garden?

Heavy rain and warm weather often creates the perfect breeding and living conditions for slugs & snails. These common resistant creatures are capable of surviving harsh environments before breeding.

Most slugs act as decomposers, feeding on rotting plant and animals, but other types of slugs in the UK prefer to feed on our plants and flowers, making them a real annoyance to us gardeners.

As slugs don’t have a shell for protection on their backs they mainly feed at night or during rainy days when they are not exposed to the sun. This makes it hard for them to find the culprits!

The best method of slug control in your garden is often complicated as more often than not most gardeners misdiagnose the damage done to their plants by another pest. Some gardeners may make the mistake of spraying plants with pesticides which is impractical on deterring slugs. The image below identifies a slug infestation as oposed to other pests.

slug damage

What do slugs eat?

Slugs love to munch on basil, beans, cabbage, lettuce, strawberries, marigolds and many more!

If you are currently growing any of these give extra attention to the pots and planters you are growing these in to ensure no slugs can come close to eating your plants.

slugs eat strawberries

Do slugs eat leaves?

Slugs will eat almost all kinds of vegetation but favor tender leaves. Because of this, tender plants with leaves are often extremely vulnerable from slugs.

Plants that deter slugs

Plants that deter slugs however can be a great weapon in your arsenal. These include; wormwood, rue, fennel, rosemary and astrantia which releases a scent that slugs hate. These plants act as a natural pesticide, deterring slugs humanely without chemical harm.

Do Marigolds repel slugs?

Marigolds have been known to act as a slug deterrent. We suggest strategically planting marigolds close to your most prized plants to act almost as a trap to slugs. The intention here is that slugs will eat the marigolds instead of your other prized plants, acting as a distraction if anything.

Encourage wildlife to help get rid of slugs

Another useful and natural way of getting rid of slugs in your garden is by encouraging predators into your garden.

Attract birds to your garden with a bird house and bird feeder – they absolutely love slugs. Other animals fond of slugs include hedgehogs, ground beetles, frogs and chickens!

Do hedgehogs eat slugs?

We love hedgehogs, mainly because they act as a great slug barrier. Did you know they can eat up to 80 slugs each night?! Treat them to a hedgehog habitat and they will keep your garden safe.

Another benefit of hedgehogs are that they are nocturnal and thus only come out at night, which is the ideal time to hunt for slugs.

hedgehogs eat slugs

Wool Slug Pellets

Wool slug pellets are another great deterrent. Our Slug Gone Organic Slug Pellets are brilliant at stopping slugs, as they are made from British wool. These pet friendly slug pellets are perfect for organic gardeners, containing no toxic chemicals making it child safe and friendly to dogs.

organic slug gone pellets

How do slug pellets work?

Once wet, these pet safe slug pellets expand to create a felt-like barrier. The wool also contains phosphates, potash and nitrate that slowly release fertilizer nourishing your soil, acting as a weed suppressing, moisture retaining mulch.

Alternatives to Slug Pellets

Create a rough/prickly slug barrier

Consider creating a rough or prickly barrier as a natural slug repellent to prevent them getting to restricted areas such as the base of your plants. A good tip can be to use gravel, eggshells or copper to repel slugs.

Our bio-degradable mulch mats can deter annoying slugs from eating your plants and help protect them from disease and better retain moisture. You simply add these to your plants in soil or containers and are very simple to put in place.

Slug & Snail Shocka mats is another effective slug barrier. It’s re-usable and humane and causes minor discomfort to slugs when they move over it, redirecting them elsewhere. The fabric has been infused with a solution containing copper and is a dog and pet friendly slug deterrent.

                 mulch mats to deter slugs copper shocka mats to repel slugs

Use copper tape as a barrier to get rid of slugs

You can lay down some copper tape in your garden to prevent slugs from reaching your plants.

Simply attach copper tape to your pots or ring around the base of your pots. These copper slug rings will create a natural barrier protecting susceptible plants such as hostas, patio plants, strawberries, lettuce, vegetables and many other plants from slug damage.

copper tape on slugs

What does copper do to slugs?

As copper reacts with slug slime, it gives them a tiny electric shock each time they slide onto it to encourage them to find somewhere else to feed.

Organic slug killer

Organic Nemaslug Slug Killer has been used extensively by professional growers for years, but only recently made available to the public.

Nemaslug is a nematode, a living organism that preys on slugs. Nemaslug contains 300,000 of these nematodes for every square metre of soil, giving at least 6 weeks control of slugs which is enough time for seedlings and bedding plants to get well established.

organic slug killer

How to get rid of slugs with beer

It may be considered slightly cruel bit it works. In terms of how to make slug beer traps the trick is to dig a hole and plant an open container such as the bottom of a bottle, placing it in the ground so that the rim is level with the ground.

Put about an inch of beer in there, this will encourage slugs to dive into this beer pool and meet their end. This way you avoid the slugs reaching your potted plants. You can check this each morning and clean out the mess as required.

Sprinkle salt on a slug

Another method, but maybe less effective and less humane is to sprinkle salt on a slug. Slugs and salt tend to not mix well together. It may wither it enough to kill it, but it’s likely that the slug will shed a layer of slime with the salt and keep causing havoc to your garden.

However, be wary that salt will kill plants and insects, so be careful if choosing to adopt this option.

Why does salt kill slugs?

As slugs have a lot of water in their bodies, when in contact with salt it mixes with the water in the mucus that the slug releases to assist its movement creating a salt-water solution. Using enough salt will cause the slug to lose enough water to the point where it dies of dehydration. Again, we would recommend a more humane method we list but still can be effective.

How to fight slugs in the garden?

Maintaining the care over your garden can itself help relieve your slug problem. As slugs prefer dark, damp environments when they come across fallen wet leaves they will happily make themselves at home. To prevent slugs coming in to your garden, we suggest you clean any fallen leaves with a leaf picker and remove any damp matter such as wood far from the garden and the patio to mitigate the chances if slugs coming to visit.

Pruning damaged leaves with a pruning knife or secateurs at ground level will improve ventilation and make your garden less welcoming for slugs. Avoid watering your plants and garden too late at night to avoid attracting slugs as they thrive in these conditions. Its best o water early in the day which allows your soil to dry during the day.

Slugs do serve a purpose in our ecosystem, as they produce natural fertilizer when consuming organic matter. In the garden, however, it is a different story, they are a nuisance. Using any of the above methods will give you different results, so experiment with them and make your garden as slug protected as possible.

At the end of the day you have to accept that completely eliminating these pests all together is unlikely, but you can control their numbers using these methods we have listed.

Feel free to browse our entire range of slug and snail control products here. You can also read our guide on natural pest control for your garden here.

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Greenhouse Sensation

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