A typical San Jose January brings cool, wet weather which provides perfect conditions for slugs and snails to attack your gardens – and they are especially damaging in shady gardens. The severity of the damage from snails and slugs could really depend on the type of slug or snail that you are dealing with. Be sure to review our previous article, how to identify a slug versus a snail.
Slugs are especially numerous during rainy seasons and in well-irrigated gardens. If slugs are abundant one year, it does not mean they will be as common the following season; the relative number of slugs depends on how moist the growing conditions are, and if you employ preventative measures to control slugs and snails. In this article, you will learn several effective methods to get rid of snails and slugs. We list many organic ways to get rid of slugs and snails and preventative measures to help control snails and slugs in the garden.
Organic treatments to control – or get rid of – slugs and snails:
- Rake your garden to remove leaves, plant debris and slug eggs. Also remove boards, rocks, or anything that provides them shelter (they love hiding out in dark, shady places).
- Do not place mulch any thicker than three inches, and avoid large wood chips. You get the benefits of mulching for your plants and trees, but also minimize a desired environment for slugs and snails.
- – Introduce beneficial insects and pests to the garden. There are many types of beneficial pests that feed on slugs such as beetles, toads, turtles, shrews, starlings and other birds. Be sure to minimize the use of chemical pesticides, to maximize the effect of natural pests to the garden. You can reduce chemicals by using baits and avoiding unnecessary pesticides applications. Don’t worry, these natural pests won’t touch the valuable crops and plants.
- – Gritty substances, such as crushed eggshells, diatomaceous earth, and sand make effective snail repellents, as they cut the snails and injure them. Sprinkle around plants that the garden snails seem to prefer, and grit will deter and eventually kill these pests (diatomaceous earth is the fossilized remains of sea organisms. Read more about it at diatomaceous.org).
- – Certain plants deter slugs and snails. An effective way to deter the slugs and snails from roaming your garden is to grow these plants around and in-between your valuable crops and plants. Plants to consider include: sage, yucca, hydrangeas, lavender, rosemary, and mint. Plants that deter slugs in shaded areas include astilbe, dicentra, vinca, and viola. Plants resistant to slugs that grow in partial shade include phlox, mentha, and campanula.
- – a vinegar solution is an effective organic home remedy to get rid of slugs and snails. This works with a snail trap method. Set up a wooden board at night so the slugs and snails gather. The next morning, check under (and on) board for any unwanted pests and spray with vinegar solution (don’t get any of the solution on the plants themselves).
- – Who knew?! Slugs LOVE grapefruits. Cut a grapefruit in halves and discard the pulp (you can save this and enjoy later). Once all the insides are removed, place the grapefruit peels upside down in your garden and leave them overnight. The next morning, you should have hopefully captured some slugs and snails.
There are chemical treatments for garden snails and slugs. A variety of slug and snail baits and poisons are available from a commercial provider, but many of them are highly toxic to humans and pets. For a safer solution, look for baits made of iron phosphate. Scatter baits evenly in slug prone areas in the early evening after watering. We suggest to call a professional, like Bayscape Landscape Management, to assist and advise with placing and using chemical treatments for snails and slugs.