How To Get Rid Of Snails & Slugs In The Garden
When I first started gardening I thought snails were a good thing in a garden so when I saw them I didn’t disturb them.
Once I think I even found one OUTSIDE my garden and put it IN my garden… wow – I’ve learned a lot since then!
But gardening is all about learning, you can rest assured that no matter how many years you garden you will learn something new all the time.
I think that’s what keeps it so interesting for me, it’s all an experiment to see what I can grow, where I am, with what I have.
So when you make a mistake don’t give up, just call it a learning experience and move on. So back to slugs and snails :).
Snails and slugs are one of the most destructive pests in the garden. They are the bane of many gardeners’ existence since they feast on leaves and tender plant matter, damaging even the best kept yards.
If you find yourself dealing with damaged seedlings, holes in leaves, and slimy trails all over your garden then this is for you.
Today, we’ll be talking about how you can prevent and manage these crawling creatures.
Let’s get started!
What Are Snails and Slugs?
Snails and slugs are soft-bodied animals called gastropods. As the name implies, they slide along on a muscular foot that looks like they’re inching their way around your garden on their stomach.
They secrete a slimy substance called mucus as they work their way around your garden. This slime serves as a cushion over rough, dry, or dusty areas. It also protects their bodies from being scratched
They both have two upper tentacles protruding from their heads. They use these for seeing and smelling. Meanwhile, they have shorter tentacles positioned lower which they use for touching and tasting.
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The main difference between these two is their anatomy. Snails have a tough shell that serve as a protective covering particularly in harsh conditions. Snails can withdraw into their shells and stay safe and alive for several years.
On the other hand, slugs lack a shell covering. While they cannot retreat into a shell when in a harsh environment, the fact that they don’t carry a large shell on their back means they can squeeze into areas that snails can’t such as loose bark and the undersides of stones.
These pests are typically night feeders. However, they can also come out during foggy and overcast weather, after rain, or after plants have been watered.
During the day, they retreat into cool damp places like the underside of leaves, mulch, rocks, wooden boards, flower pots, stepping stones, and under ground cover plants,
What Plants Do They Affect?
Both are voracious night feeders and they can cause considerable damage to plants in a garden and in flowerbeds.
They feed on both living and decomposing plant material but they prefer tender plant matter like newly sprouted seedlings and soft growth on established plants. They leave smooth holes on plant matter that they have fed on.
Among their favorite meals are lettuce and tender herbs. They also like violets, hostas, and other foliage plants.
They enjoy succulent fruits like strawberries and tomatoes, as well. These crawlies may also feed on citrus fruits like lemons.
Preventing And Managing Slugs And Snails
More often than not, a slug and snail infestation can go unnoticed for a long period. This generally happens for two reasons:
First, these creatures feed at night and hide during the day so it can be difficult to spot them when you’re doing yard work.
Second, they tend to eat small leaves whole as well as the underside and edges of foliage.
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By the time you notice holes in leaves and in the fruits you’re growing, you might have to deal with a whole army of gastropods. But that doesn’t mean they are invincible.
Here are some ways you can manage and prevent a slug and snail infestation:
- Pick Them Off. The simplest way to control the population of snails in your garden is by manually removing them. You have to do this one by one however and it could take a while. Pick them off your plants and place them at least 20 feet away from your beloved plants.
- Layer Sharp Objects Near Your Plants. Slugs and snails prefer to glide along smooth areas. Add a layer of gravel, bark, or wood chips near your plants to discourage an infestation. Diatomaceous earth (DE) or ground up eggshells work as a deterrent, too.
- Attract Their Natural Enemies. Birds love feasting on slugs and snails. You can set up a bird bath to attract friendly birds who will help you manage the snail and slug population in the garden. Alternatively, you can purchase praying mantis eggs to help with your gastropod problem.
- Use Trap Plants. You can deter these mollusks from feeding on your preferred garden plants by using sacrificial plants. If you have a flower garden, put up a small patch of lettuce that can distract snails and slugs from your beautiful blooms. You might also want to plant herbs like sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme, and mint around the border of your garden to keep them out.
- Keep Your Garden Clean. Remove debris, bricks, lumber, and weeds that may serve as hiding places for slugs and snails. Also, when using mulch on your garden beds, avoid using a heavy layer. 2 to 3 inches is enough for your plants.
Snails and slugs can do serious damage in a garden if they are left unmanaged. I hope these tips will help you keep these creatures away from your yard.
Do you have any more tips about snails and slugs? Let me know in the comments below!
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