9 Ways To Deter Slugs And Snails This Autumn 

Horizontal colour image of hosta plants in a garden which have multiple holes where they have been eaten by snails and slugs. Two snails in shot. Eye level.

Gardeners have been offered nine eco-friendly tips for deterring slimy slugs and snails from their backyards this autumn. Outdoors experts at BillyOh.com have revealed the best ways to get rid of pesky gastropods without the use of pesticides that harm beneficial creatures and pollute our waterways.

Slugs lay eggs nearly all year round, but most prolifically in late summer and early autumn. And when autumn leaves start to fall, slugs and snails will have lots of new hiding places to choose from. These gastropods are a nuisance to gardeners worldwide, but there are plenty of easy ways to keep your vegetable and ornamental crops safe.

A spokesperson for BillyOh.com said: “Slugs and snails probably cause the most devastation to gardens – they’ll think nothing of munching through your prettiest plants and ruining any vegetables you’ve lovingly grown. And whilst killing them with pesticides might be effective, it also has a terrible impact on other wildlife, your pets and the environment in general.

“Ideally, we’d all have the time to go around plucking each one by hand, but this can take a while – plus it’s pretty gross. Instead, we’ve suggested nine alternative methods that will help you get rid of any slugs and snails in the garden, and then stop others from returning.”

1 Feed them citrus peels

Fresh Tangerine Fruit

Pic: iStockphoto

Slugs love citrus, so don’t throw away your orange or lemon rinds. Instead put them in your garden to bait the slugs and snails away from your plants.

In the morning, check your peels to see if any slugs or snails are on them, and remove these from your garden. Refresh with new peels as appropriate to continue your decoy operation.

2 Deter with rough surfaces

Slugs and snails hate crawling over scratchy surfaces, so try surrounding the stems of your plants with crushed eggshells or insert a sand-paper collar around the stem. Sprinkling sand around edges would work, too. This won’t kill them, but it might slow them down and keep them off your plants.

3 Copper

Strangely enough, research shows that slugs and snails cannot tolerate crawling on copper surfaces, which gives them a mild electrical shock when they crawl over it. So, put copper bands around your flowerpots or beds to deter them from crawling up and onto your plants. Pennies will work just as well.

4 Herbal repellents

Garlic in a trug

Pic: Susie White

Planting sage or mint around your garden plants will help deter slugs and snails. Other herbs and plants which may deter these critters include garlic, fennel, and even geraniums.

5 Vinegar spray

Mix equal parts water and vinegar in a pump spray bottle, go out into your garden in the evening (the hours that snails and slugs are usually active) and spray any you see. As vinegar is mildly acidic, it will kill any snails or slugs it touches. However, vinegar is toxic to vegetation, so only spray snails or slugs that haven’t yet reached your plants.

6 Ammonia spray

Alternatively, you can mix equal parts ammonia and water and spray snails and slugs as described above.

7 Coffee

Spent coffee grounds being used as natural plants fertilizer

Pic: iStockphoto

Slugs and snails cannot tolerate caffeine, so you can deter them by placing coffee grounds around your plants.

8 Encourage natural predators

Blue tit outside birdbox

You can encourage native slug-hungry predators to inhabit your garden. For example, birds love slugs, so you could install a birdbath or birdhouse. Other creatures such as frogs, hedgehogs, shrews and ducks all eat slugs, too.

9 Beer trap

Bury an open container so that the rim is level with the ground and put about an inch of beer in it. The slugs will dive into this shallow beer pool and meet their hasty demise. Check the trap each morning and clean it out as necessary.

For ideas about how your garden could be more eco-friendly . . .

Moira Chisholm

I'm the Health Editor on My Weekly and am always interested to hear what's new in this fascinating field. I also deal with the gardening, shopping pages, general features, our website content and the Ask Helen problem page. I have a special interest in Christmas content because I'm on the team for Your Best Ever Christmas Magazine, too!