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How can I get Rid of Slugs in the Garden Naturally?

Mary McMahon
Updated: May 17, 2024

Slugs and snails in the garden can be extremely frustrating, as these pests feel unpleasant to touch and destroy plants in remarkably short order. Fortunately, there are a number of natural techniques which can be used to get rid of slugs. There's no need to resort to slug bait and poisons, which can potentially hurt animals in your garden along with the slugs.

One very effective technique is to create borders around your plants which slugs will not cross. Strips of copper can be very effective to get rid of slugs, as slugs and snails do not like crossing this metal. You can also surround plants with crushed shells, diatomaceous earth, cinders, and lava rocks. These surfaces hurt the slugs when they try to cross them, acting as an excellent deterrent.

It is also a good idea to get rid of decaying organic material, as slugs are attracted to it. Unfortunately, this also requires getting rid of mulch, so if you have plants which must be mulched, surround them with a border as above to make the mulch less appealing.

Hand picking is also a solution for getting rid of these garden pests, and if you're feeling squeamish, you may be able to find a young person in the neighborhood to do it for you, for a small sum. As you hand pick, drop the slugs into salted water to kill them. To make the process even easier, set out overturned flowerpots overnight to attract the slugs, and then drop the flowerpots into salted water to get rid of your unwanted guests.

Another technique to get rid of slugs involves setting out traps with natural bait. Slugs are very attracted to the odor compounds emitted during the process of fermentation, so you can fill shallow saucers with beer to attract slugs. When the slugs enter the pans, they will drown, and you can periodically empty the beer traps to remove them.

You can also get rid of slugs by encouraging avian friends in the garden, as many birds love slugs. Set up bird feeders to welcome birds of all sizes, or buy some ducks or chickens. Domesticated fowl can help get rid of slugs while also brightening the garden and assisting with the weeding, although you may want to shelter delicate plants from clumsy feet with netting. Small chickens like Bantams are ideal for this task, and these friendly birds can also make the garden a more cheerful place to be.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGeek researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon998672 — On Jul 31, 2017

Save a few tops from your liquid laundry soap jugs. Get a can of beer, fill the detergent tops with beer. Place the laundry cups in your garden. Push them down in the soil a little bit; this way the birds can eat the slugs without spilling the beer. Refill cups as needed, usually every few days.

You'll never see a slug again.

By anon90178 — On Jun 14, 2010

For the last two years, slugs have ravaged my beautiful Connecticut garden. I heard today that crushed hazelnut shells are great. Seems maybe in the Northeast we can use Walnut shells? They sell them ground down for blasting materials. Anyone know if this would help?

Copper is so expensive and I'd like to use a more natural deterrent. I have nothing against slugs -- just after backbreaking work to have a nice garden, it's gone in one to two days when we get a lot of rain and cloudy skies.

By anon35752 — On Jul 07, 2009

slugs are eating my corn. help!

By opmom — On Mar 29, 2008

are these the critters eating my petunias? last summer, every day i'd come out to water and most of the flowers, and some of the stalk of my petunias would be eaten down to almost nothing! i never saw any evidence of slugs...what should i look for to identify them?

By Goosebeat — On Mar 29, 2008

I used to have lots of slugs in my garden and now I don't have any. I created a pond, this attracted frogs, and frogs eat slugs. Simple and ecological.

By mendocino — On Mar 26, 2008

I usually go to my garden early in the morning, to check for slugs and snails. That is when the slugs and snails are still out feasting on my plants. When the sun comes out and it gets hot, they are nowhere to be found.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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