Avoiding plant damage: Natural controls

There are many ‘natural’ ways of controlling slugs and snails to protect plants against damage before slug pellets are used.

Below are GrowRight’s top tips:

Before planting, check for nests and gatherings, where slugs and snails like to rest or live, for example empty garden pots, under piles of stones, at the base or walls. If you find a nest, then expose the gastropods and either crush or move to somewhere they won’t destroy cultivated plants.



It is also important to rake the soil before planting. This will disturb slug eggs and make the soil surface dry, making slug movement more difficult.

Once plants are in the ground they can be protected with a simple bottle cover until they are established and growing strongly. More mature plants can be protected by dry material barriers such as, grit, egg shells, oats and wool, these materials make it difficult for slugs to move through. However, these must be renewed and checked after damp conditions and rain.

Using physical barriers such as copper strips around pots is another popular method to deter slugs and snails.

An environment can also be created that encourages predators of slugs and snails. This includes planting shrubs and trees that provide cover for small birds, along with bird tables, feeders and a bird bath.

A pond, even a small one, will attract frogs and toads, who love to munch on the menace. While a pile of logs left undisturbed in a shady spot will encourage the hungry amphibians.

Beetles are a good predator of slugs; their larvae and adults consume both slug eggs and slugs. Beetles are nocturnal and need cover and shade. Encourage more of them into your garden by planting densely so that there is no soil in sight.

Resistant plant varieties can also be chosen, including some vegetables which are also proven to be more resistant. If you are constantly battling to save your delphiniums and hostas from slug attack, a better strategy would be to grow other flowering plants which are not so high on the slug menu. View more tips about strategic planting here.

For further information about natural slug and snail controls please visit the Garden Organic website. The Royal Horticultural Society website is also a useful source for further suggestions.