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The Great Snail Battle

by Malachy - Horticulturist CountryLife Dungarvan | Oct 25, 2016

Dealing with slugs and snails

When I say the ‘great snail battle’ it really does feel like an almighty battle, especially this time of year. Autumn is notoriously a bad time in the garden when it comes to slugs and snails. This is mainly because the weather is moist and thus it is much easier for them to get around the garden.

Autumn approaching also means that slugs and snails are getting ready to hibernate. And this means that are looking to stock up on food for winter by eating our plants. Only last weekend I went out to my garden and discovered at least 10 or 12 snails munching away on what was a beautiful hosta the day before. Needless to say after their overnight feast, the snails left very little of my hosta behind them!

clugs can do damage quicklyAt this time of year customers that call into the CountryLife Garden Centre always ask ‘how do I protect my plants from slugs and snails’. But often it is too late to do much because the customer is coming in after the fact. The key to good slug and snail control is getting in early and stopping them in their tracks before they even reach your plants.

A very popular method to control slugs and snails at the moment is by using a beer trap. These simply involve burying a shop bought trap in the ground and placing a small layer of beer in it. The slugs and snails are attracted to smell of the beer and when they reach the trap, fall in and drown. In the past in my own garden I have even made my own beer traps using a saucer or jam jar and found they worked have worked well too.

Slug pellets are a well-known method of control, however some gardeners do worry about using them, especially if they own pets or have lots of birds in the garden. For gardeners with these concerns I recommend looking at organic slug pellets that you can get now. These pellets are just as affective at controlling slugs and snails but they don’t cause harm to anyone else. Even if a bird eats a slug that has been killed by the organic pellets, the bird won’t be affected. Organic pellets are also a better option to consider if you have young kids playing out in your garden.  

Some customers in the past few weeks have come in with an issue of snails getting in the backdoor. The reason this happens is because there is a flowerbed or shrubbery very close to the door. It is a good idea to give around the door a good tidy up and clear back any plants that may be housing the slugs and snails.

copper tape helps fight snailsAnother solution is to place a strip of copper tape at the foot of your door and the slugs won’t travel over it. Copper irritates slugs and snails when they come in contact with it and thus won’t move over it making it a great barrier to prevent them coming into the house. The copper tape is inexpensive and can easily be used on the rims of pots and look very decorative. 

Written by Malachy

Here to help! - remember if you have any questions feel free to pop into one of our garden centres or you can contact us on our Facebook and Twitter pages and email us at:

Malachy's Bio 
I have been gardening since I was 5 years old when my mother gave me a part of our garden as my own. I have studied horticulture in the National Botanical Gardens in Glasnevin and was a winner in the young horticulturist of the year competition. I have worked in Several plant nurseries and garden centers such as Mount Congreve in Co. Waterford. My special interests are plant propagation and Cacti!

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