Snails in the garden can cause big problems that you definitely want to avoid. Garden snails chew through leaves on plants, which reduces productivity. Snails and slugs can even consume an entire plant in one night. If you don’t want your garden plants to end up dead, but you don’t want to use tons of harsh chemicals, you need to learn a few all-natural methods for controlling snails in the garden.
Garden snails aren’t as adorable as some coloring books or stories make them out. These little pests, along with their dangerous cousins the garden slug, can be the root of many problems.
You don’t have to suffer through a snail infestation or resort to using chemicals to get rid of them. There are natural methods for controlling snails that are just as effective or even more effective than pesticides. Let’s take a look.
Why Control Slugs and Snails?
If you find a snail in your garden, chances are its an ordinary garden snail. They’re often called brown garden snails, or their scientific name is Helix aspersa. These snails have a brown, rounded shell and a grey body.
They might look small and incapable of harm, but these little pests can eat a lot of leaves. They’re a serious danger to many different plants. Slugs can be even worse. If you don’t take care of them fast, they can eat most of the leaves on our plants or destroy an entire garden bed.
12 Natural Methods to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs
To control pests, you don’t always need to resort to chemical methods to take them down. Some natural methods work as well, if not better than many of the chemical methods you might try. Other natural methods might be a little less effective, but some people swear by them, so it’s worth a try.
While chemicals might work, they’re damaging to your plants and animals in the area. Also, chemical treatments are often unable to differentiate from the beneficial insects and the pests, killing them all. That’s ultimately bad news for your garden.
If you want to stop snails from taking over your garden, here are some natural methods for controlling snails.
1. Introduce Predators
Predators are a solution for many pests that might try to make your garden their home. An effective way to control snails is to introduce or encourage predators to make your garden home as well.
Garter snakes love to eat garden snails as well as other common garden pests. Try to make your garden more snake friendly, even if you find snakes frightening as I do.
You can invite birds to your garden as well because they peck at snails and slugs. Set up birdbaths in your backyard near your garden beds and also try some birdhouses or bird feeders out. Birds also help to control other common household pests such as ants, cockroaches, and mosquitoes.
Another trick is to introduce decollate snails to your garden. These snails won’t harm your plants, but they do eat the garden snails that destroy your plants. Not such a bad idea, right?
2. Spread Grit
Abrasive substances can be an effective method for controlling these pests. Grit cuts into the body of the snail, causing injuries. You can try using gritty sand or oyster shells. Sprinkle them around your plants, especially the ones that the snails seem to prefer the most.
There’s evidence that the mucous snails create protects them from grit and other forms of rough barriers, though, so give it a try and see how it works in your garden.
3. Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
You might have heard of diatomaceous earth before. It has many uses around the homestead and garden, particularly with repelling snails and slugs.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that has microscopic sharp edges, piercing the bodies of the snails that may cause damage in your garden. All you have to do is sprinkle the diatomaceous earth on the areas in your garden beds where snails seem to frequent the most.
4. Set Out Traps
How about setting out some traps for these darn pests? The most common trap for snails is the beer pan. All you have to do is fill a shallow pan with beer and leave it out overnight. Snails find the scent of beer attractive, so they can’t help but visit these pans. Then, they drown in the beer. You do have to replace the beer every few days for this to work.
That isn’t the only trap that you can set out for snails. Another option is to find a flat object to create a cool, moist location. Snails are a fan of cool, wet areas. Some options are a piece of carpet, a board, or a thick piece of cloth.
Water the area before you lay this object over the damp area. Leave it there for a few days before you pick it up. Then, you can harvest and destroy hiding snails.
5. Create Barriers
Barriers are another natural method for controlling snails. Try creating barriers, which means putting things in the path of the snails that they don’t like. You can try copper wire, petroleum jelly, or mesh curved outwards to repel garden snails.
Some experts recommend using copper to prevent snails. You can put copper bunches around plant stems or bushes trunks to stop the snails from reaching the foliage on your plants. Keep in mind, however, that some studies show copper to be ineffective.
6. Emptied Grapefruit
Do you love grapefruits? So do I! If you’re like me, you eat a lot of grapefruits, and you wonder what you can do with all of the rinds. Aside from making homemade cleaner, you can use these emptied grapefruit halves to catch snails and slugs that want to call this area their home.
This is an easy trick. Slice a grapefruit in half and eat the insides. Don’t toss that out; enjoy it! Then, place the emptied grapefruit halves near the affected plants and leave them there overnight. The next morning, you could find plenty of garden snails and slugs in your grapefruit.
7. Scatter Around Eggshells
If you’re a chicken owner, you’re in luck; you have an endless supply of eggshells for you to use. Break the dried and cleaned eggshells into small pieces and scatter them on the garden soil.
Eggshells aren’t as effective as diatomaceous earth, and there are even reports that they’re useless against snails. But eggshells come with the added benefit of providing additional calcium and other nutrients into your soil as the shells break down. Water won’t affect the eggshells as it does diatomaceous earth, so it’s worth a try.
8. Raise Chickens or Ducks
If you can raise chickens or ducks, they’re a solution to your snails (and slugs) issue, while still providing you with fresh eggs. Free-ranging chickens eat more than just grass. They love pests of all kinds, including snails, so they’ll be happy to eat them for you.
9. Add Mint to Your Soil and Nearby
It might seem like a strange idea, but mint is aromatic, and many pests find the smell offensive. While humans might love the smell of mint, it can be used to deter dozens of different pests that might want to call your garden home.
One simple way to deter snails is to add mint trimmings to the soil and mix them into the dirt. Mint is an invasive herb that grows well nearly anywhere, so I suggest that you keep it in pots rather than in your garden beds, but you can use the trimmings freely.
It’s not a bad idea to add some mint plants around your garden, either. Not only might it help deter snails, but you’ll have plenty of fresh mint for your mojitos on your patio.
10. Plant Rosemary or Thyme Bushes
Rosemary and thyme are both in the mint family, so their aroma helps to deter snails, slugs, and other dangerous pests. Planting them near your garden beds makes this area an unappealing place for the snails to call home.
11. Don’t Water Your Garden Beds in the Evening
Snails are nocturnal, so they’re more active at night. They also need a moist environment to survive. Typically, the evenings are moister, and if you water your gardens in the evening, you’re creating an ideal haven for those slimy little creatures. They’ll want to come to visit even more.
12. Remove the Snails by Hand
Our last method for controlling snails is to remove them by hand. Yes, this method may seem more time consuming, but if you have kids, they might find this task a bit interesting!
Take a flashlight outside at night and pick off the snails and slugs when they’re more active. Drown them in soapy water or put them in a sealed bag and toss them in the trash. Make sure you wash your hands with soapy, warm water afterward.
Battle Against the Snails and Slugs
You don’t have to use chemicals to win your battle against the snails in your garden. Instead, using all-natural methods for controlling snails in the garden can be as effective or better than chemicals.
Besides, we know that chemicals aren’t safe in the garden, especially pesticides that contain components such as metaldehyde that kill all insects, regardless if they’re good or bad. Using natural methods is safer than exposing you and your family to anything dangerous. Your battle can be won with some elbow grease and these natural methods.