Any gardener would agree that out of all the pests in the garden, snails and slugs are the worst. These garden invaders may be slow, but they aren’t picky about what they eat and for them, the garden is one big salad buffet. Commercial slug killers and pesticides are usually the things gardeners turn to for a solution, but these may prove too toxic not just for the birds, plants, and the good insects in your garden, but also to your health as well.
Slugs and snails may be annoying, but they’re also part of nature. With this in mind, there are several ways to prevent their encroachment naturally without having to resort to pesticides or slug pellets.
Preventive measures and deterrents
Slugs and snails love the water, and they are most active at night when the conditions are damp. Thus, one natural way to combat their encroachment is by adjusting the watering schedule. Studies show that gardeners can potentially reduce the slug and snail damage by 80% if they water their garden in the early morning as by nighttime; the soil is too damp for these garden munchers to even try trekking through.
Placing deterrents and obstructions is a good way to stem their encroachment. Slugs are relatively smart and they don’t like taking the hard way just to get food. Placing a barrier around a flower patch is great for deterring them and they are less likely to crawl over to that patch of land if there’s a barrier holding them back. Small strips of copper are best for these, either as obstructions or raised beds. Seaweed, while slightly expensive, is a good natural border for plants that comes with the added benefit of being good for the soil. As seaweed is very salty, slugs and snails will avoid this. Additionally, mulch mixed with seaweed when dried makes the soil too rough for these pesky mollusks to crawl over.
The enemy of my enemy is my friend
Another natural way to combat slug and snail invasion is by enlisting the aid of their natural predators. This isn’t as difficult as creating borders since their predators typically inhabit the garden themselves. Some predators of snails and slugs common in the garden include ground beetles and rove beetles, birds, lizards, and small snakes. Amphibians in particular are voracious eaters, and even one or two frogs or toads in a garden are enough to drastically reduce the entire snail and slug population to more manageable levels.
Some snail species actively prey on their own kind. Decollate Snails, unlike their herbivorous relatives, are rapacious carnivores that are distinguishable by their rounded-cone shaped shell. They actively feed on both snails and slugs, including their eggs, which makes them effective population controllers. It is important to note that these particular snails also eat plant matter from time to time, although the damage they do is relatively minor compared to its herbivorous cousins and they often prefer rotting plants and fruits over healthy plants.
Slugs and snails may be the most infuriating garden pests there is, but they can easily be tricked and controlled using natural methods. Consider these alternative ways of controlling their population instead of using pesticides and pellets.