Complete Guide to Getting Rid of Snails and Slugs in Your Garden

Slugs and snails are one of those annoying pests that we gardeners have to deal with on a constant basis.

There’s nothing worse than inspecting a row of freshly planted seedlings and seeing they’ve been decimated by a group of snails during the night.

Fortunately, we have a wealth of solutions at our disposal when it comes to getting rid of these annoying pests.

Some of these are natural and many gardeners swear by them but when everything else fails, environmentally friendly snail pellets can be your garden’s saviour.

Environmentally friendly snail pellets

As a busy weekend gardener, the easiest way I’ve found to control snails in my garden is to use Multicrop Snail and Slug Killer. I’ve used this brand for years and find it highly effective for controlling these pests.

I use this particular brand because it’s safe to use around pets and not harmful to birds or other wildlife such as lizards. It also breaks down in the soil and is harmless to beneficial insects and earthworms.

Its main active ingredient is iron EDTA which kills snails and other slugs.

Ducks, chickens, and birds

ducks | Pest control

If you live in a rural area and have the space, consider getting some ducks or chickens. Ducks, in particular, are very fond of snails and will keep these pests under control if you let them roam around your garden.

In fact, it’s common for orchardists and market gardeners to use ducks and chickens to help control snails and other slugs.

However, you do need to ensure that your ducks or chickens are kept safe from foxes, especially at night.

For gardeners in suburban areas, it’s a good idea to attract native birds to your garden. You can do this easily by installing a bird feeder and bird bath in your garden.

Sprinkle coffee grounds

If you scatter coffee grounds on top of the soil around your plants, this will deter snails because they hate coffee. Coffee grounds will also add nutrients to the soil but they will increase the acidity of the soil as well. 

According to the Department of Primary Industries in WA, spraying snails with a double-strength coffee solution will kill them.

Create an effective barrier with lime or copper sulphate

snail | Pest control

Snails do not like to cross surfaces that are dry. With this knowledge, you can create a barrier around your garden beds with a line of lime or copper sulphate.

Lines of sawdust or ash are also effective. However, once these get wet, their effectiveness is reduced.

You can also purchase copper tape which repels snails and other slugs. This can be useful for plants grown in pots if you stick a ring of copper tape around the perimeter of the pot. The snails won’t cross the tape, so this creates an effective barrier.

You could even use the copper tape around your raised garden beds to create an effective barrier. In commercial orchards, farmers often put a thin copper sheet around their trees to deter snails from climbing up the trunk and feasting on the fruit.

Make a beer trap

Another thing to know about snails is that they’re attracted to beer and other yeast products. That’s why many gardeners swear by using beer traps. 

To make the trap, you need a shallow container that you bury in the soil up to the rim. You then fill the container with beer.

The scent of the beer will attract the snails, they’ll crawl into the container and effectively die.

Just ensure that you keep your pets away from this one, though.

Use diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural product that is made from the skeletal remains of microscopic creatures. You can usually find it sold at garden centres and hardware stores like Bunnings.

This product is sharp and jagged and when snails or slugs come into contact with the product, it lacerates their soft bodies and causes them to dehydrate and die.

Diatomaceous earth is best used during dry weather because it’s less effective when it becomes wet. It should be sprinkled around garden beds and plants.

Remember to wear gloves, protective eyewear, and a face mask when handling this product because it can irritate your eyes and lungs.

Scatter crushed-up eggshells around your plants

Egg shells | Pest control

Crushed eggshells have sharp edges and these will cut the soft bodies of the snails and other slugs, much like diatomaceous earth does. This is a great idea if you only want to protect a handful of plants.

Eventually, the eggshells will break down and add valuable nutrients to the soil.

Plant herbs and other repellent plants around your veggie beds

There are a variety of herbs and other plants that will repel snails and other slugs. Plus, there are other plants that will attract the snails away from your veggies. This can make it easier if you want to try and pick the snails off in the early morning and dispose of them.

Snail-repellent plants include garlic, chives, sage, rosemary, Italian parsley, thyme, mint, and lavender. Plant some of these around your garden beds and not only will you keep the snails away, but you’ll also have a delicious range of herbs to use in the kitchen.

Something new that I’ve learned recently is that nasturtiums will also repel snails. I have plenty of nasturtiums growing around my veggie beds because they attract lots of lovely bees.

They’re also a favourite food source of white butterflies which keeps these away from my brassicas. One thing to remember though is that nasturtiums are vigorous growers and you’ll need to trim them back every other week in summer to stop them from crowding out your veggies.

On the other end of the scale, snails absolutely love chamomile seedlings. If you plant some of these around your garden beds, you can have some fun collecting the snails late at night or early in the morning and disposing of them.


What causes an infestation of snails?

Snails are attracted by moisture and garden debris such as fallen logs, low-growing weeds, and even mulch, as this gives them a place to hide during the day.

Why do snails and slugs come out when it rains?

Snails and slugs thrive on moisture and high humidity. They need a high level of moisture for their physiological activities such as reproduction and feeding.

Photo of author

Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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