How To Get Slugs Out Of Garden

How To Get Slugs Out Of Garden

Slugs are a common problem for gardeners in the United Kingdom, causing damage to plants by eating new growth and leaving behind their silvery slime trails. Over 40 species of slugs can be found in the UK, and they are most active in spring when there is plenty of young growth for them to eat. However, not all slugs eat live plants, and many larger ones feed on decaying or dead plant material, playing an important role in the composting process. While it is impossible to completely eliminate slugs from your garden, there are several natural slug control methods you can use to prevent slug infestations and deter them organically.

Key Takeaways:

  • Create a healthy ecosystem in your garden by attracting natural slug predators such as birds, frogs, and toads.
  • Protect vulnerable plants like seedlings and new growth by avoiding “bridges” between pots and sowing extra seeds.
  • Combine multiple control methods, such as torch picking, placing barriers, and using organic slug pellets or nematodes.
  • Avoid harmful slug control methods like sprinkling salt or using metaldehyde pellets. Choose organic slug pellets made from ferric phosphate instead.
  • Use barrier methods like eggshells, sand, prickly materials, or copper tape to deter slugs from reaching your plants.

Creating a Healthy Ecosystem

One of the best ways to control slugs in your garden is by creating a healthy ecosystem that encourages natural slug predators. Planting hedges, shrubs, and trees that attract birds such as blackbirds and thrushes can help keep slugs in check. Additionally, having a wildlife pond in your garden can provide habitat for newts, frogs, and toads, which are natural slug-eaters. Another way to attract slug predators is by creating habitats like log or leaf piles, as well as open compost heaps. These environments will encourage slow worms and other beneficial species to make a home in your garden. Maintaining healthy soil is also critical in reducing slug damage, as slugs tend to target weakened plants. Mulching with homemade compost or well-rotted manure can help support healthy soil and make plants more resistant to slug attacks.

By creating a healthy ecosystem with slug predators, a wildlife pond, and maintaining healthy soil, you can effectively control slugs in your garden while promoting a balanced and thriving environment.

Protecting Vulnerable Plants

When it comes to safeguarding your garden, prioritizing the protection of vulnerable plants is essential. Seedlings, as well as new growth on herbaceous plants, are particularly susceptible to slug damage. Additionally, plants like delphiniums, hostas, and dahlias are known to be highly appealing to these slimy pests.

To prevent slugs from easily accessing your plants, it is advisable to avoid creating a “bridge” of leaves between pots. Slugs can use this pathway to travel from one plant to another, causing widespread damage. Taking preventive measures like sowing extra seeds and growing more plants than you actually need can also ensure that you have replacements in case some fall victim to slugs.

Furthermore, incorporating slug-resistant plants into your garden can act as a natural deterrent. Consider including species like astrantia, wormwood, rue, fennel, anise, and rosemary, which naturally repel slugs and provide an added layer of protection for your vulnerable plants.

susceptible plants

  • Seedlings
  • New growth on herbaceous plants
  • Susceptible plants like delphiniums, hostas, and dahlias

Combining Control Methods

To effectively control slugs in your garden, it is recommended to combine multiple control methods and start early in spring. One popular method, as suggested by readers of BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, is to go out with a torch after dark and pick off slugs by hand, disposing of them in a bucket of salt water. This should be done two hours after dusk when slugs are most active.

Another approach is to attract slugs to a designated area using something they are attracted to, such as old vegetable leaves, dried cat food, or bread rolls, and then collect them en masse. Other methods include checking slugs’ hiding places during the day, placing barriers like copper tape or sharp materials, using organic slug pellets or microscopic nematodes, and applying garlic drench or creating beer traps. By combining these different methods, you can significantly reduce slug populations in your garden.

attracting slugs

  • Pick off slugs by hand using a torch after dark
  • Attract slugs to a designated area and collect them
  • Check slugs’ hiding places during the day
  • Place barriers like copper tape or sharp materials
  • Use organic slug pellets or microscopic nematodes
  • Apply garlic drench or create beer traps

Avoiding Harmful Methods

While there are various slug control methods available, it is important to avoid using harmful methods that can negatively impact the environment and other wildlife. Sprinkling salt on slugs may kill them, but it can also harm plants and disrupt the soil balance. Metaldehyde pellets, which were commonly used in the past, have now been banned due to their harmful effects on birds and hedgehogs. Instead, choose organic slug pellets made from ferric phosphate, which are approved for use by organic growers and are less harmful to wildlife. It is crucial to use any type of slug pellet sparingly and only around particularly susceptible plants, as excessive use can disrupt the natural balance of predators and lead to overreliance on pellets.

harmful slug control

  • Avoid sprinkling salt on slugs as it can harm plants and disrupt the soil balance.
  • Avoid using metaldehyde pellets, as they have been banned due to their harmful effects on birds and hedgehogs.
  • Choose organic slug pellets made from ferric phosphate as a less harmful alternative.
  • Use slug pellets sparingly and only around particularly susceptible plants.

Barrier Methods

Implementing barrier methods can be an effective way to deter slugs from reaching your plants. For example, lining your garden borders with upturned eggshells or creating a rough area with sand or gravel can make it harder for slugs to slide past. Some gardeners also use sharp and prickly materials like crushed eggshells, pine needles, or thorny cuttings to create barriers and recycle unwanted leftovers and foliage.

Types of Prickly Materials:

  • Pine needles
  • Thorny cuttings

Another option is to use self-adhesive copper tape, which reacts with slug slime and gives them a small electric shock when they come into contact with it. This can be placed around vulnerable plants or areas that need protection, such as greenhouse staging, potted plants, or raised beds.

By implementing these barrier methods, you can create physical deterrents that help keep slugs away from your precious plants.

Companion Planting and Repelling Plants

Companion planting is a clever gardening technique that involves pairing certain plants together to create a deterrent effect on slugs. By strategically planting repelling plants next to those that slugs are attracted to, you can help protect your susceptible plants from slug damage. Some plants that slugs dislike are members of the Allium family, such as Allium giganteum, which includes onions and garlic. The strong smell of mint, chives, and fennel can also repel slugs. Additionally, plants like foxgloves and geraniums have properties that make them less appealing to these garden pests.

When incorporating repelling plants into your garden, it’s essential to consider plant compatibility and spacing. Ensure that the plants you choose will thrive together and won’t hinder each other’s growth. You can create an attractive and effective garden by strategically implementing companion planting techniques to naturally deter slugs and protect your cherished plants.

Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. Take a look at this image to visualize some of the repelling plants:

Natural Predators and Other Methods

Encouraging natural predators in your garden can be an effective way to control slugs. Predators like frogs, newts, hedgehogs, and birds can help keep the slug population in check.

Creating a garden pond can attract frogs and newts, providing them with a habitat and a source of food. These amphibious creatures are natural slug-eaters and can significantly reduce the slug population in your garden.

Similarly, providing suitable habitat for hedgehogs and birds can also aid in controlling slugs. Hedgehogs are nocturnal creatures that feed on slugs, and birds like blackbirds and thrushes prey on slugs during the day.

If you have enough space and resources, another interesting option is to consider keeping ducks in your garden. Ducks are natural predators of slugs and can help control their population. In addition to their pest control abilities, ducks can also provide the added benefit of free-range eggs.

In addition to natural predators, there are some unconventional methods that can also help reduce slug populations. For example, using hair as a protective barrier can deter slugs from crawling into your plants. Simply place human or animal hair around the plants you want to protect, creating a barrier that slugs find unpleasant to cross.

Furthermore, drilling small holes in fences or creating openings in hedges can allow hedgehogs access to your garden. Hedgehogs are natural predators of slugs, and by providing them with easy entry, you can encourage them to roam freely and help control the slug population.

Additional Tips and Considerations

When dealing with slugs in your garden, there are a few additional tips and considerations that can help you effectively control these pests. Firstly, it’s important to regularly check for slug egg clusters, which are translucent white balls typically found under plant pots, stones, or in cool, dark areas. Removing and disposing of these clusters will prevent the hatching of more slugs and help keep their numbers in check.

Another useful method is to create newspaper traps. Simply lay down a damp newspaper on a hot day and let it sit for a while. Slugs will seek shelter underneath it, making it easier for you to collect and remove them. This is a simple and effective way to physically eliminate slugs from your garden.

In addition, consider using seaweed mulch around the perimeter of your plant bed. Seaweed acts as a natural slug repellent, deterring them from approaching your plants. It also provides benefits to the soil, such as improving moisture retention and adding trace minerals. However, be sure to avoid direct contact between the mulch and plant stems to prevent any potential negative effects on the plants.

By implementing these additional tips, such as removing slug egg clusters, using newspaper traps, and incorporating seaweed mulch, you can further enhance your slug control efforts and protect your garden plants from these slimy pests. Remember to combine these methods with other natural slug control techniques to effectively manage the slug population in your garden.

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