Slugs and snails are the bane of many gardeners and they are always appearing in the top 10 of the most annoying garden pests in horticultural lists.
It’s pretty easy to spot whether you have a slug or snail problem. Your leaves will be plagued with strange shaped holes and the shimmering slime trails will be evident across your bedding plants and plant containers.
So, how do you tell if it’s a slug causing the problem, or a snail, or both?
Well, you can usually tell by the type of damage they are doing. Both of them leave slimy trails but snails tend to be the best climbers. Therefore if you can see a slimy trail going up your brickwork and your hanging basket has been decimated then you can put your money on that being a snail.
Snails also tend to be more discerning eaters. They are the fine diners between the two and they will go for the softer bits of the leaf only.
Slugs on the other hand are more your fast food junkie. They eat anything that’s going and they tend to stay at ground level.
So how can you deal with slugs and snails?
There are a few options you could try. Let’s take a quick look at some of them:
Create a rough barrier – This means making a barrier around your plants that is difficult for slugs and snails to cross. This barrier could consist of sharp gravel, egg-shells, or any kind of sharp material and it will need to be at least 5cm wide with no gaps. This will certainly deter some of the slugs and snails but it can be a bit hit and miss and also difficult to achieve with bedding plants.
Create a salt barrier – Slugs and snails hate salt. It dehydrates them and stops them in their tracks. However, you’ve still got the same practical problems as with a rough barrier so it’s a bit hit and miss.
A beer container – Slugs and snails love beer so if you put a container in your garden then they will gravitate towards it, drink too much and probably drown. This can be pretty effective and will certainly help as a diversionary tactic.
A bran container – The same goes for bran. They absolutely love it, eat too much of it and effectively explode from eating it because the bran swells inside of them. Once again, fairly effective and a good diversion
Nematodes – This is a biological way of dealing with slugs and snails and can be very effective. Nematodes are microscopic creatures that you can buy and once you put them on your plants (they’re non-toxic and will not affect you or any wildlife) they will kill the slugs and snails. Nematodes only last 6 weeks and they can only be used in spring and summer when it’s warmer.
All of the above are tried and tested ways of dealing with slugs and snails and some are more effective than others. You will notice that we haven’t mentioned snail pellets because whilst they do work, they can also kills hedgehogs and some birds so they’re not a very wildlife-friendly option.
Snails and slugs will always be with us and it’s a battle that most gardeners have to deal with every year. Make sure you come out on top!