Snail and slug control

Page last updated: Tuesday, 5 July 2022 - 11:01am

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Organic solutions

Slugs and snails are attracted to beer, wine and yeast products. Pour a small amount of these fluids into a plastic 'deli' container buried in the soil up to the top of the container. Slugs and snails will crawl in and drown.

Chewed canola leaves, cause by slugs.
Slug damage to canola leaves.

Overturned flowerpots, citrus halves and boards can be placed in the garden to attract the pests. Put a stone under the rim of the flowerpot to allow access. Leave overnight, and you'll find the slugs and snails inside in the morning. Citrus halves work the same way, with the fruit scent acting as a lure.

The simplest method is to set a wide board on the ground by the affected area to allow slugs and snails to hide under the board which can be flipped over to remove and dispose of the pests.

Coffee grounds scattered on top of the soil will deter slugs and snails and they are killed when sprayed with a very strong (double strength) solution of coffee. Strong garlic sprays will act as a deterrant and will kill soft bodied snails and insects.

Diatomaceous earth is the sharp, jagged, skeletal remains of microscopic creatures. It lacerates soft-bodied pests, causing them to dehydrate. Sprinkle the powder around garden beds or individual plants. It is less effective when wet, so use during dry weather. Wear protective equipment when applying, as it can irritate eyes and lungs.


Snails and slugs do not like dry surfaces. Continuous lines of sawdust and ash can be used as barriers but their effectiveness is drastically reduced once they become wet, which is unavoidable with rain and watering of gardens. Alternatives are lines of lime and copper sulphate which are pest repellent and can be used to prevent migration into an area.

Superphosphate fertiliser applied in rings around the butts of trees may stop snails reaching the trunks.

Copper is repellent to snails and slugs and bands of thin copper sheet around tree trunks prevent snails from climbing. This method must be combined with skirt pruning and control of under-canopy vegetation to stop snails getting into the trees by other routes.

Brown garden snails, en masse, congregating on a tree trunk.
Garden snails congregating on a tree trunk.