Slug Control in the Garden

How Other Gardeners Get Rid of Slugs in Their Gardens

Garden Slug
John A. Rizzo/Photodisc/Getty Images

Slugs hide under leaves and do a lot of damage in the garden, before you even know they're there, but their chewing and damage is unmistakable. Most gardeners turn to homemade solutions to this problem, with time-tested beer bait and still at the top of the list. Here’s what some readers recommend for controlling slugs in the garden.

Let Nature Take Care of It

  • Ever wonder what chipmunks were good for? Mine leave me piles of empty, broken snail shells on my porch steps! So leave the little critters alone.... Submitted By: Ginny D.

    Homemade Remedies

    • I used the beer method - but in place of saucers I reused bottles. Just drink the beer and leave a bit in the bottom - lay the bottle on its side and press into the ground so the opening is atop of the soil line. I have seen quite a few drowned in the bottle this way when I checked the following morning. So this is working for me.


      The other thing I tried was directly spraying the slugs (at night when they are out eating my garden goods) with a strong solution of salt water. I water the next day to minimize the damage from the salt on my plants. A local farmer told my husband to sprinkle snuff around the plants for slugs - I will try that next. I did read about crushed egg shells (you grind them into a powder) and sprinkle about - I did that too. So far the damage has been minimal with these methods. Submitted By: Becky Bumper-Crop


    • I have 2 methods for dealing with snails & slugs: one is crushed egg shells, which the snails and slugs do not like to cross since they cut up their bodies. I collect egg shells in a separate container, put them in a plastic bag, and step on them to make jagged pieces (not too large, not too small). Spread evenly around susceptible plants and re-apply as needed.


      The second method uses copper, which apparently gives off a light electric charge to our slippery friends. A copper wire around the perimeter of hostas just as they begin emerging works wonders. There is also a copper mesh on the market for taller or larger applications, but I have not used it myself. I use copper around perennials and egg shells in the vegetable garden where things get moved, replaced, and re-planted. Since I have begun using these methods, my neighbour has been complaining of an increase in slugs and snails! Go figure ... Submitted By: Barbara


    • I use crushed egg shells. Beer tends to attract every slug in the neighborhood (at least it seems that way!). Be sure to rinse out and microwave the shells for a minute or two to sterilize them or you will have rodents coming to your garden. The sharp shells will cut the slugs and they will die. I sprinkle them around my hostas and anything else that shows signs of slug damage. Submitted By: Cynthia


    • Place beer bottle or similar with about half cup of beer therein on its side in garden, opening level with ground. Recently trapped 52 juvenile slugs in one night. Submitted By: Bryan


    • This kills the little suckers! 1 and a half cups each of water and ammonia and 2 tablespoons of Murphy's Oil Soap. Put in a good spray bottle shake and start spraying. Submitted By: Linda


    • I have used small cans and put beer in them and to my surprise it does work. as long as the tins don't tip over. One night I put 4 empty tuna cans in my garden and poured in the beer, and by morning I bet I had over 50 slugs in the cans. Even though it didn't totally get rid of the slimy guys it did help. Submitted By: Sue


    • Copper Shocks/Deters Slugs With Success I have a cottage garden that is vulnerable to forest/woodland behind my property, therefore, there are countless slugs/snails who love to visit my garden, but they don't hang around for too long now because they would starve. After much research, I decided to build a raised bed & surround it with bendable copper piping, which can best be described as "boarder control". I also purchased copper ribbon & glue gunned it just beneath the rims of all of my planters/pots. These two particular methods of using copper is highly successful. All other methods mostly failed, my beloved collection of Dahlia's & Hostas are thriving!!! Submitted By: Janet


    • One morning I had over 50 slugs in my garden. Each morning before leaving for work, using gardening clippers (shears) I cut them in half and threw them in the garbage can. Some there were almost none left and each year there were fewer and fewer to deal with. Submitted By: Barbara

    Commercial Products

    Older commercial slug control products are extremely toxic to pets, as Deborah points out below. However, there are newer controls on the market that have proven effective and much safer to use.

    • Diatomaceous earth, found in the swimming pool maintenance section of most hardware stores, dehydrates and kills snails/slugs. A new, organic product, Sluggo, does not have Metaldehyde, a dangerous chemical to dogs, cats, children. However, for industrial strength non-organic products, I always go with Ortho products, which are cost-effective, very effective. Submitted By: Mike


    • This year, after a disastrous year of slugs last year, I am going to cover every square inch of my yard, garden, and other areas with Sluggo. This seems to be the most effective cure. Last year in the early morning I would go out and my lawn looked alive from all of the slugs heading back to the beds. Feet are very effective at this time of morning, especially shoes without tread, they swipe, squish and pop unrelentingly. If they were legal in our area, chickens would be a number one choice. Submitted By: Erika


    • Please add that snail and slug baits are very poisonous to pets and can cause death in as little as three hours. They often look like pet food pellets and are palatable. So keep pets away from areas of use and keep packages out of pets' reach. Submitted By: Deborah


    • One quick way to rid your garden of slugs and snails is to use Bug Getta (slug and snail) bait by Ortho. It is in granule form. Another important tip: minimize moisture in the shady areas of lawn/garden. This may done by allowing the area to dry completely before it is watered again. Also, sitting water located under stones,plant containers and their saucers need to be eliminated. These are great homes for snails and slugs. Submitted By: Wesbrooks


    • I know it's not organic and probably won't work for those who have dogs, but I have had fantastic luck with Bug-Geta by Ortho. I apply it once in early spring/late winter, then once again 2-3 months later, and I'm good for the rest of the year! Submitted By: Lisa in Houston


    • I have tried beer and also coffee grinds...unfortunately the only thing that works for me is slug bait..I sprinkle these little pellets around my hosta and it works great but I hate using is so bad for the the good insects eat it too...Please help me be save my garden naturally. Submitted By: Joanne


    • Snailban crystals sprinkled around your yard,dense areas,within and around the nursery.This has worked for me and if they show up again you repeat sprinkling. Submitted By: Michael


    • Here in south Louisiana we are overrun with slugs and snails! Beer never worked to get rid of large numbers of the critters and I thought it too much trouble anyway. After a rain I was always outside, trying to handpick and step on, or salt as many as I could but that was an impossible task. About 5 years ago, we applied a commonly available slug/snail bait that is unfortunately toxic to pets, birds and wildlife, but we did wipe out all the slugs in our yard. The snails however were not phased..


      Last year, I learned of a slug/snail bait that is safe for pets, birds and wildlife and found it to be successful against snails for awhile. It did seem to require repeat applications approximately every month so I used it only in container plants and around certain plants in the ground that the slimy creatures especially loved. It is marketed under different brands. Some garden centers carry it but may not have it in large quantities so look for it now before they sell out for the season. The active ingredient is iron phosphate so that is what to look for in the fine print, and the package should say "safe for wildlife and pets". The way I understand it works is the slugs/snails eat the iron phosphate pellets, and it causes them to stop eating and a few days later they starve to death. Whatever iron they don't eat will break down as a supplemental fertilizer for your plants, so you get a little bonus. Submitted By: Betsy