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Slugs will steal your food. It’s a fact that any gardener in the temperate climate must learn. Those wily, slimy critters will crawl into the cabbage patch and wreak havoc.

Undoubtedly, that’s why any trip to the big box home improvement store, nursery or hardware outfit will present the home gardener with a bevy of slug solutions. Like so many other lawn and garden fixes, however, the battle with slugs has come to rely a bit too heavily on chemicals.

For gardeners who are looking to do things organically, hoping to not kill other animals who are just trying to eat like the rest of us, there have to be different methods for making slugs disappear. And, in fact, there are!

Lure With Love


Slugs and snails are suckers for damp and darkened areas, so one way to get rid of them is to create these kinds of spaces to attract them. This can be done by setting wood planks, plant pots, and cardboard boxes in, near or around the garden. They’ll congregate in these spots during the day, making it easier to collect them up and take them elsewhere.

Another good way to lure the snails into these spaces is to put a little food out for them to nibble on. Try old cabbage leaves or citrus peels.

Slug Spotting

Slugs like to do their dirty work at night, so that’s the best time to be out looking for them. While gardening is usually a daytime activity, a garden with a snail infestation is definitely an exception. Strap on a headlamp, don some disposable gloves, bring along a container (with a lid), and head to the garden. It’s time to find slugs.

Slug spotting can prove even more effective if spotters follow slime trails and check the undersides of leaves.

Build Up Barriers

It’s also always a good idea to take preventative measures before and after slugs have caused an issue. A lot of people put up barriers that deter slugs from entering the garden. There are many different barriers that are helpful: ground tobacco stems, oak leaf mulch, copper strips, coffee grounds, coarse sand, and seaweed. Certain plants are helpful as barriers around the garden as well: garlic, chives, mint, and chicory are all edible herbs that can be used for this.

Attract Animals

Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, is famous for saying, “You don’t have a slug problem. You have a duck deficiency.” While not all of us have the luxury of buying ducks for the garden, we can make sure we attract predators to help with slugs. Many types of birds love to eat them, as do ground beetles, lizards, and toads. Ponds and rockeries are great additions to the garden because they provide safe habitats for many useful pest predators.

Dry by Night

Slugs much prefer a damp and slippery surface to slime their way across, so one way to help with preventing them is to water or irrigate plants in the morning. By the nighttime, the garden will be dry, and then slugs are less amped to get into it. This can potentially make a massive difference, some say even reducing the problem by three-quarters.

Additionally, it is not a horrible idea to have a couple of decoy (sacrificial) garden spots that do get water in the evening in order to attract the slugs away from the real garden.

Raised Gardens


Raised garden beds are said to be a good defense against slugs because they aren’t so keen about slithering over corners. Plus, the trip up the edge of the garden leaves them out in the open for predatory birds and other animals to spot lunch. Some of the best materials for making raised beds are wood or woven willow branches. Of course, if slugs are already in the garden, they’ll need to be removed for this to be effective.

If slugs are any issues, stone garden borders probably aren’t the right idea. Slugs will likely make a home of them.

Sometimes being gentle and kind takes a little extra effort, but it’s that kind of care and consideration that makes the world (and garden) a better place. Slugs have a right to lunch, too! So, we just have to do our best to steer them clear of our gardens to find it.

Image Source: Pixabay

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One comment on “Dealing With Slugs in the Garden: Oh, the Humane-ity!”

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Elsje Parsons Massyn
4 Months Ago

Some of these options dont sound very vegan to me. Why not live and let live.
Plant your herbs and greens in pots and plant some extras between the pots so that the snails will stay busy on the ones to which they have easy access. They wont bother to climb into the pots if they get easy access elsewhere.
Getting geese especially to contain the slugs/snails sounds like something meat farmers will do. I know here in South Africa, geese are used to eat the snails off vinyard shoots, but the ultimate end of those geese are death when they have no further use.
There are other humane options to use like using copper wire around your pots as this is a deterrent for snails they dont like copper.


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