How to get rid of slugs in the garden: 11 natural ways to remove them

Follow our advice on how to get rid of slugs in your garden the chemical-free way

how to get rid of slugs from the garden
(Image credit: Future)

One of the biggest problems for gardeners is how to get rid of slugs. There seem to be more of them and they're getting bigger and more destructive. Global warming means more of them tend to survive our warmer winters and the fashion for densely planted leafy gardens is heaven for them. Plus the more organic material and mulch you put on your garden, the more you make it attractive for slugs.

Slugs love to feed on fresh green growth such as seedlings, so the younger the plant the more susceptible it is. It makes sense to choose natural ways of dealing with them where possible. One of the most obvious methods is to create a gritty barrier between your plant and the slugs. Spread grit, gravel or crushed eggshells around your plants and the slugs will avoid crawling over it. Read on for more ways to keep slugs at bay in your garden, then head over to our feature on how to create an eco friendly garden for more eco tips. 

Easy ways to get rid of slugs from your garden

beer trap to get rid of slugs

(Image credit: Future)

1. Make a beer trap 

Slugs like the smell of beer and will fall in if temptation is put in their path. So an easy and inexpensive way to get rid of slugs is to make a beer trap. Ease a plastic pot into the soil near plants that slugs make a beeline for then half fill it with beer. 

2. Use coffee grounds 

Slugs don’t like the smell of ground coffee. If you scatter coffee grounds around plants they’ve been attacking they will start avoiding them. You can mix the grounds with eggshells too to max up the deterrent. The best bit? It's all decomposable. 

straw used as a barrier for slugs

(Image credit: Future)

3. Create a barrier

Use crushed eggshells, sharp sand, grit, pine needles or thorny cuttings to create protective barriers. Use them to make a circle around a plant that has been affected by munching. Slugs find the gritty edges uncomfortable against their soft flesh. 

4: Choose plants they hate

Slugs don’t like highly scented plants, so varieties like lavender, rosemary and sage are a good choice. In fact, slugs tend to avoid most herbs so that’s one area of the garden that's typically nibble free. They’re not keen on geraniums and begonias either. You can find out how to create a herb garden in our expert feature.

5: Avoid planting certain flowers

Hostas, delphiniums, lupins and dahlias can get get shredded by armies of slugs. Much as we love them, slugs love them more, so be prepared for a constant battle on your hands if you choose to fill your garden with them. Lettuce also needs TLC as it's catnip for slugs.

6: Lay copper tape

Self-adhesive copper tape reacts with slug slime, giving a tiny electric shock to slugs each time they come into contact with it. It’s a great way of deterring slugs from reaching your plants. The tape can be attached to pots and raised beds to protect your fruit and veg crops.

leftover food scraps to be used for composting

(Image credit: Getty Images)

7: Make a trap

Leave a pile of leafy kitchen compost such as lettuce leaves in a damp and shady corner to attract large numbers of slugs. As they gather scoop them up and dispose of them. Check the garden at night by torchlight to catch them congregating.

8: Use nematodes 

These soil-dwelling micro-organisms are a great way to kill slugs. It sounds a bit technical but it couldn’t be easier. Simply mix the powder with water and sprinkle it on to the soil just once in spring or summer and watch them spin their magic. Nemaslug natural slug killer is readily available from Amazon and is safe to be used around children, pets and wildlife.

melon half used as a slug trap

(Image credit: Future)

9: Utilise grapefruit or melon halves

Place the empty grapefruit shells near plants that slugs are drawn to. Slugs will take cover in them and in the morning there they'll all be, nicely collected up for you to dispose of. You can also try this with melons too.

10: Sprinkle salt

Although salt quickly kills slugs you need to avoid sprinkling it around too liberally as plants are also adversely affected by an excess of salt and will not fare well if it lands on them. So use it carefully and not too near your most precious plants.

hedgehog in a garden

(Image credit: Future)

11: Encourage wildlife to give you a helping hand

Encourage birds and hedgehogs into your garden to help reduce the resident slug population in the most natural way possible. Make sure the best bird feeders are full and create a hedgehog highway in your fence to allow them an easy way into your garden to feast on the slugs. Find out how to help hedgehogs this winter and beyond with our advice feature.

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