How do I stop slugs and snails eating my plants? (Hint: article contains hedgehogs.)

Orange slug on mossy background

Slugs and snails are the bane of many gardeners’ lives. They are merciless, indiscriminate munchers of vegetable matter. They multiply fast, and can polish off a perfectly healthy plant within days, given any chance at all.

As a beginner gardener, it can be disheartening when you discover the ferocity of these blubbery little critters for the first time, and it can be easy to feel as though you’ve failed at gardening if you lose a few leaves to some greedy new neighbours.

However, do not despair! Not everyone will experience problems with slugs, and there’s a lot we can do to deter them if you do find yourself host to their roving munching. The good news is that if you have a balcony, an enclosed garden or high-up terrace, they’re less likely to find your plants, and are easier to deter if you do find them. But on the occasion you do have to do battle with them, here are a few tried and tested techniques:

Broken eggshells

1) Crushed eggshells/gravel/woodchip or mulch Molluscs don’t like travelling over rough ground, so if they sense sharp edges, you can use this texture to deter them.

Coffee grounds

2) Coffee grounds. Slugs don’t like the bitter taste of coffee grounds. Sprinkle coffee grounds on the soil around your plants to deter them. (Although coffee grounds aren’t good for pets, so this might not work if you have any four-legged family members roaming around.)

3) Copper pots and/or copper tape This is a really effective way to deter slugs. It won’t mean they disappear from your garden, but if you can wrap sufficient copper tape around the base of your containers, it will mean that fewer or no slugs make the long and arduous journey up the side of the container to their buffet above. Slugs don’t like copper because it gives them a little electric shock when they slime their way onto it. So what do they do? They turn around and slime off it. Problem solved.


4) Find yourself a friendly resident hedgehog. FAVOURITE TIP! This comes to you directly from the MD of Lazy Flora’s plant wholesaler. Hedgehogs, apart from being super cute and exceptionally good news for any garden’s wildlife, love eating slugs. So (almost) everyone’s a winner.

5) Make a slug lure Set up a buffet bar for slugs, in an environment they find attractive. The lure might be a Tupperware with beer or vegetable matter in it. If you can lure them to this area, they are less likely to focus on your plants, plus it’s super easy to then pick them up and dispose of them. (You might want to use your rubber gloves for this.)

6) Slug pellets. These are the big guns, and although in an ideal world we wouldn’t resort to this, but if all else fails, they do work. If you are going to use slug pellets, make sure you choose a brand that is non-toxic to humans, pets and other wildlife. (It will clearly say on the tin if it is non-toxic to pets, wildlife and humans, and we wouldn’t advise buying them if it doesn’t.)

So there are plenty of techniques you can try. But also don’t forget these important points:

You can pick them up and move them! This is a very simple and reliable method of getting rid of them! Whenever you see them, pick them up and move them out of your garden. It isn’t the nicest job, because they’re slimy little things. It won’t stop them coming back, or new ones arriving, but it does put an instant stop to any sluggy party.

Be especially vigilant after wet weather. Slugs and snails like damp conditions, so you’re more likely to see them when it’s been raining or even during a rainstorm – a lot like the one we’ve had today. So

Get to know your garden. Some gardens have more slugs and snails than others and there will be bits of your balcony or garden that have a greater tendency to provide a home for slugs and snails. Pay attention to these areas and target them as the first locations for mollusc removal after wet weather.

What NOT to do.

DO NOT put salt on them. Salt makes them explode and basically kills them in an incredibly painful way. Apart from being a cruel and painful way to kill an animal, salt is really bad for plants, so we do not recommend it at all.

But be warned: slugs can be persistent. In order to defeat them, you must be equally so.

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