Getting Rid of Snails and Slugs in the Garden

Snails Slugs Garden Living Color Fort Lauderdale FloridaHeader

Slugs and snails may be slow, but don’t let that fool you—they can sneak their way into your garden and do some serious damage, so getting rid of them is a must. Luckily, there are plenty of natural solutions for driving them out, many of which require simple everyday items you may already have in your pantry! We’re no strangers to these slimy critters here in Fort Lauderdale, so we created this guide to getting rid of these unwanted pests before they muck up your plants.

How to Get Rid of Snails and Slugs Naturally

So, you’ve spotted a slimy snail trail in the yard? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. These all-natural solutions are easy to execute and super effective, so your yard will be slug and snail-free in no time. Many of these solutions work like traps, luring the pests in so you can dispose of them later, so if you’re a bit squeamish, you might need to invest in a pair of rubber gloves and take a few deep breaths before getting rid of these garden menaces. 

Beer Traps: Beer attracts slugs and snails like a magnet, so it makes a fantastic bait for traps. The easiest way to make a trap is to fill a few small containers — either Tupperware containers or empty, washed tuna cans — and press them into the soil in your garden, preferably in spots shaded by some foliage. Fill the containers with beer (the cheap stuff—no need to waste the good craft beer on these uninvited guests) and make sure it’s deep enough for them to get drowned out. Soon they’ll start plopping in one by one, and you can toss them out.  

Coffee: The caffeine in coffee makes slugs and snails sick, so they’re naturally repelled by it. You can either scatter coffee grounds around the border of your garden, or you can fill a spray bottle with cold coffee and drench those suckers directly. Keep in mind, It takes a lot of coffee to kill them, so don’t skimp on the spraying!

Grapefruit Halves: If you enjoy the occasional half-grapefruit for breakfast in the morning, the leftover peel makes a great trap after all the insides have been scooped out. Place the empty “bowls” near any plants that are prone to visits from slugs and snails, and within a day or so those pests will have made the grapefruit peel their new hangout. Simply dispose of the peel traps once they’re full, and you’re good to go. 

Copper: This metal will actually give slugs and snails a little shock if they make contact with it, so it’s a fantastic material to keep them out of your yard and your potted plants. You can buy copper tape to apply around the base of your pots, or even sprinkle some pennies around affected areas to keep them away. 

Diatomaceous Earth: While it may need to be topped up semi-frequently since the rain will wash it away, diatomaceous earth still works pretty well, because the tiny granules have sharp edges that damage and irritate delicate membranes, so slugs and snails won’t cross it if it’s in their way. Make sure the diatomaceous earth is food-grade and not pool filter-grade, as they have different textures. Sprinkle it in a circle around your plant, making sure there aren’t any invaders already on the plant, because it won’t do much good at stopping them at that point.     

Scatter Eggshells: Similarly to diatomaceous earth, the sharp edges of crushed eggshells are great deterrents, so sprinkling a ring around your affected plants is an easy and inexpensive barrier method. 

Natural Predators: There’s a lot of wildlife here in Fort Lauderdale that enjoy snacking on slugs and snails, so it’s worth looking into ways to attract natural predators, or at least remove anything that would drive them out. Birds, snakes, possums, frogs, and turtles all enjoy the occasional escargot dish, so installing some water features like ponds or birdbaths will help draw them in. 

“Hiding Place” Traps: Slugs and snails like to hide in dark, damp areas, so building little spots for them to hide will work well to concentrate them in one area, so you can dispose of them easily. Soak a wood plank in some water and prop it up on a rock so the critters can take shelter underneath. Wait a day or two, and then pick them out. Easy peasy!

Pick Them Off By Hand: When you need an instant solution, sometimes the best course of action is to simply pluck them out of your garden by hand. They tend to be most active at night time, so grab a flashlight, some rubber gloves, and a garbage bag, and go on a little late night scavenger hunt. 

Bonus Prevention Tips to Keep Slugs and Snails Away

If hunting for molluscs isn’t exactly your idea of a good time, it’s worth putting in a little extra effort to prevent them from showing up in the first place. Here are some prevention tips to help repel them:

Water Plants in the Morning: Since snails and slugs are most active at night and they require moist ground to lay their eggs, it only makes sense to water your plants early in the morning so the sun will dry out the ground by nightfall. 

Remove Debris: They also love hiding spots, so if you get rid of any loose debris like piles of old leaves and branches, there won’t be as many inviting spots for them to convene.  

Add Plants That They Hate: Many popular landscape plants and flowers emit scents that repel slugs and snails, or they have a rough surface that doesn’t bode well for their fragile bodies. Plant these varieties in your backyard, or add them into potted planters and place them in spots that tend to attract those unwanted visitors.

  • Foxglove
  • Euphorbia
  • Succulents
  • Salvia
  • Fennel
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Daylilies
  • Astrantia

Getting rid of slugs and snails really isn’t too difficult—sometimes half the battle is getting over the squeamishness when handling and disposing of them! If you’d like some further guidance on how to eliminate plant pests of all sorts, visit our garden center in Fort Lauderdale and we’ll set you up with all the necessary supplies, tips, and tricks.

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