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How do I get Rid of Garden Snails?

Autumn Rivers
Autumn Rivers

Many gardeners are desperate to get rid of snails since they tend to eat nearly every plant imaginable. Fortunately, these are several ways to get rid of garden snails, though a combination of a few methods may be necessary to finally eliminate this pest. One of the main methods is to remove each snail from the garden by hand, and then place a snail-proof barrier in front of the plants. Traps can also be set for them so that they end up being the cause of their own demise, such as drowning in beer or other threatening liquids. Finally, applying dangerous substances like diatomaceous earth to the garden may also help get rid of garden snails.

It may sound basic and time-consuming, but picking up each snail by hand is a free, thorough way to eliminate most garden snails. Of course, it is impossible to know if all the snails have been picked up, and this should be done daily before dawn in order to make an impact. The good news is that once you have performed this chore for several days in a row, you can work on keeping the snails out by placing copper wire stripping around the plants, as garden snails will not typically cross this barrier. It is important to ensure that there are no snails near the plants when you do this since otherwise they will become trapped within the barrier, free to eat all of your plants.

Removing decaying matter from a garden can deter snail infestations.
Removing decaying matter from a garden can deter snail infestations.

If you are tired of picking up garden snails by hand, you can also set traps for them. One of the most well-known ways to trap a snail is to place a jar under some soil so that the opening is even with the ground. You should then put a little bit of beer in it so that garden snails that fall in will drown. This works well since snails tend to be attracted to the yeast in the beer. You can use stale beer for this, or even mix baking yeast, sugar, and water together in the jar.

Another threat to snails is diatomaceous earth, which is made up of small granules with sharp edges that can easily cut into these pests. Once they are cut, they will become dehydrated, which will quickly kill them. You can spread this substance around the garden, or put it in a spray bottle with water and then squirt the plants with it. Just be sure to protect your eyes and lungs from this product since it tends to irritate them.

Discussion Comments


@browncoat - I can just never bear to kill the poor things. I know they can be frustrating, but I find snails to be very cute and I hate the idea of slaughtering hundreds of them just to protect my lettuces.

I'd rather just go through every night and pick off any snails that have crept into my garden. I know dumping them on the other side of the house makes it more likely they will come back, but it's become a bit of a ritual now.


@bythewell - The problem is that doesn't work very well if you get a lot of rain. Any container that is open to the weather is going to end up filling with water eventually and the beer will get washed into the soil, which might even end up attracting more snails.

I have found the best solution is to use plastic bottles and cut holes in them halfway up the side. Then, you put some beer in the bottom and bury them so that the holes are level with the ground. As long as you keep the lid on the bottle, the rain won't be able to get in and dilute the beer, but it will still work for snail and slug control.


It sounds silly, but that beer in a jar trap works so well it's actually difficult to keep the jar from filling up too much with snails. It works for garden slugs as well.

I usually use yogurt containers to hold the beer since they are easy to collect, small and fairly sturdy. You just have to use a little bit of beer and bury them so that the top is level with the ground. Then, keep an eye on them to make sure they don't get too full.

It can be a bit gross, actually, which is another reason to not let the containers sit there for too long.

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    • Removing decaying matter from a garden can deter snail infestations.
      By: JohanSwanepoel
      Removing decaying matter from a garden can deter snail infestations.