Pest Away Tips

10 Natural Ways to Keep Garden Slugs Out of Your Plants

Gardening enthusiasts know all too well the devastating impact that garden slugs can have on their plants. These slimy pests are part of the gastropoda mollusca family and are notorious for their voracious plant-feeding habits.

Despite their unsavory reputation, garden slugs play an essential role in their ecosystem by breaking down decaying matter. In this article, we will explore the appearance, behavior, feeding habits, benefits, and detriments of garden slugs, as well as natural ways to keep them out of the garden.

Appearance and Traits

Garden slugs are members of the mollusk family, characterized by their soft and unsegmented bodies. They have a pair of feeler-like tentacles on their head that responds to touch and chemical stimuli.

These tentacles are equipped with light-sensitive cells that allow the slugs to navigate and detect changes in light intensity. Garden slugs also have a distinct mantle that aids in respiration and excretion.

Their distinctive feature is their large muscular foot that they use for movement and adhesive locomotion.

Behavior and Feeding Habits

Garden slugs are nocturnal, preferring to feed and reproduce during the night. They have an insatiable appetite for foliage, consuming both living and decaying plant matter.

These creatures leave behind a trail of slime as they move, which can cause damage to plant structures and lead to stunting of growth and wilting. They seek out moist and shady environments, thriving in cool and humid conditions.

Benefits and Detriments

Garden slugs play a vital role in breaking down decaying plant matter, which helps to recycle nutrients and fertilize the soil. They also serve as an important food source for other animals such as birds, newts, and frogs.

However, their plant-feeding habits can be detrimental to gardens and crops, leading to significant economic losses for farmers and gardeners. They can also be carriers of diseases and serve as hosts for parasites.

Natural Ways to Keep Slugs Out of the Garden

Thankfully, there are several natural ways to keep slugs out of the garden. Here are some tactics that you can try:

Slug Repellents

Plant-Based: Certain plants have properties that repel slugs. Astrantia, rosemary, geranium, and mint are just a few examples of plants that can be used as deterrents.

Placing these plants around your garden can help to deter slugs and prevent them from infesting your plants. Kitchen and Cleaning Items: Items commonly found in your kitchen and cleaning cupboard can also be used as slug repellents.

Salt, for instance, can be scattered around the garden to create a barrier that slugs are reluctant to cross. Coffee grounds and eggshells are also effective at repelling slugs.

Slug Barriers

Diatomaceous Earth: This white, chalky powder is made of fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. It acts as an abrasive substance that irritates the slugs’ bodies, causing them to dehydrate and die.

Lava Rock: Lava rock is another natural material that can be used as a slug barrier. Its rough texture makes it difficult for slugs to move across, effectively keeping them out of your plants.

Copper Tape: Copper tape is a sticky adhesive tape lined with copper foil that creates a barrier for slugs. When the slugs come into contact with the copper, it reacts with their mucus, causing them to receive a mild electric shock.

Predators and Nematodes

Newts, frogs, and shrews are natural predators of slugs and can help to control their population in your garden. Introducing these animals into your garden can help to create a balanced ecosystem and reduce the number of slugs present.

Nematodes, which are microscopic worms that are naturally occurring in the soil, can also be bought and applied to the garden as a natural pest control measure.


Garden slugs are a common nuisance for gardeners, but there are several natural ways to keep them at bay. Utilizing natural deterrents such as plant-based repellents, kitchen and cleaning items, or creating barriers using diatomaceous earth, lava rock, and copper tape can effectively keep slugs from damaging your plants.

Introducing natural predators and nematodes into your garden can also help to control the population of garden slugs. With these tips, your garden can thrive without the threat of a slug infestation.

Eliminating Slugs in the Garden

Garden slugs can cause severe damage to gardens by feeding on the new growth of plants, which can lead to wilting and stunted growth. If left unchecked, they can become an infestation, so it’s essential to eliminate them as soon as possible.

Here are some methods for controlling slug populations in both flower and vegetable gardens.

Flower Garden

Creating a slug barrier around the flowers is an effective method of preventing these pests from infesting your garden. A slug barrier can be made using copper tape, which is placed around the base of your plants.

The copper tape reacts with the mucus of the slug, giving them a mild electric shock, leading to avoidance of your garden plants. Growing slug-repelling plants like astrantia, rosemary, geraniums, or mint around the garden can help deter slugs naturally.

Keeping the garden dry, with reduced nighttime watering can help prevent the rainforest like environment in which slugs thrive.

Vegetable Garden

Copper tape and slug barriers can help protect your vegetables from invading slugs. However, we require more aggressive measures to protect them from these pests.

Beer traps are a commonly used method for trapping slugs in the vegetable garden. The slugs are attracted to the beer and drown in the liquid.

Introducing natural predators such as frogs, shrews, birds and gecko lizards will keep the slug population under control, but these predators need to be preserved from harmful pesticides used on crops to protect them against leafhoppers, aphids, and other pests. Nematodes can also help with this problem.

Introducing them into the soil can destroy the slugs before they do considerable damage to the plants. Additionally, The Garden Safe HG-4536 and Monterey LG6515 Sluggo Snail Bait is another effective option for keeping slugs at bay.

It contains natural iron phosphate, which is known to aid in keeping slug populations in check. Similarly, Natria 706190A Snail and Slug Killer Bait Granules is an excellent organic approach for eliminating slug populations.

Slug Bait

Slug bait can be given as an effective and convenient approach in getting rid of slugs. These are easily available in the market, and their application can also be adjusted depending on their strength, making them less harmful to the environment.

Iron phosphate-based slug baits are a common choice for gardeners; they are effective and cause no damage to animals and plants. A few examples of commercially available slug baits include Garden Safe HG-4536 and Monterey LG6515 Sluggo Snail Bait, and Natria 706190A Snail and Slug Killer Bait Granules.

Preventing Slugs in the Garden

While controlling and eliminating slugs is essential, prevention is the best approach to avert future problems.

Proper Watering

Garden slugs thrive in moist environments. To avoid creating a favorable setting for these pests, it is essential to avoid overwatering the garden.

Watering your plants in the daytime will allow the soil to dry out before the nighttime activity of slugs.

Pesticide Use

Pesticides can be harmful to natural predators of slugs, so it is important to read the labels on these products carefully. The use of natural predators like hedgehogs, birds, and lizards aids in reducing the snails and slugs population without harming to other beneficial insects that serve in pollination and pest control.

Wool Waste Pellets and Slug Traps

Wool waste pellets are an ideal solution in diminishing the slug population in the garden and preventing future infestations. The wool waste material is set around the garden, which sticks to the mucus of the slug and causes dehydration, thereby eliminating the pests.

Slug trap boards are attractive to slugs, as they provide an environment conducive to their activities. Underneath this board is copper, which creates a reaction with the slug mucus, thus rendering them harmless.

These boards are an excellent tool for idening and documenting the size of the slug population.

Slug Shelter Removal

Eliminating slug shelters can help to prevent future infestations. Moisture-loving slugs hide under rocks, leaves, weeds, and clumps of grass, so removing these hiding places will limit their habitat, making it unfavorable for their survival.

Velvety smooth material laid around the garden discourages movement and encourages movement to areas with better shelter options for slugs.


Garden slugs can do severe damage to your plants if they get out of control. Controlling slug populations requires a variety of approaches, including natural predators, repellents, barriers, pesticides, and wool waste pellets.

However, the best approach to dealing with slugs in the garden is prevention. Proper watering, reducing slug habitats with an increase in dryness, elimination of shelter, use of natural predators and predatory nematodes are the best defense mechanisms against slug populations in gardens.

By following these tips, you can prevent and eliminate slug populations, allowing your garden to remain healthy and beautiful. Garden slugs are often viewed as a pest that can cause significant damage to plants and are therefore treated as an unwelcome sight in most gardens.

However, there are many interesting and factual details about these creatures that are not commonly known. In this section, we will explore some fascinating facts about garden slugs, including their toxicity, safety of handling, life span, regeneration ability, pain perception, and edibility.

Slug Bite and Poison Information

Garden slugs are considered low risk to humans, as they are not poisonous. They do possess a rasping mouth which they use to feed on leaves and foliage, but their bite is not venomous, nor dangerous to humans.

If a garden slug secretes its slime on a fresh cut or open wound, clean the wound correctly, and wash your hands. There is no need to visit a doctor unless an allergic reaction occurs.

In most cases regarding a garden snail or slug, the consequences are mild and short-lived.

Safety of Handling Slugs

Handling garden slugs is generally safe as they are non-poisonous. People can touch them and hold them without fear of getting hurt, but it is important to wash hands thoroughly afterward.

They do excrete slime, which can be slippery and uncomfortable to some people. It is vital to be aware that the slime can cause breathing distress to children or people with asthma when inhaled.

Life Span and Regeneration Ability

Garden slugs, like many mollusks, have a relatively long life span of up to two years. During their life cycle, they will mate, lay eggs, and feed on plant matter.

When it comes to their regeneration ability, slugs have been known to possess exceptional regenerative capacity in their tentacles, but they cannot regenerate their entire body. The tentacles have the ability to grow back in a short time once chopped off, maximizing the slugs’ ability to sense their environment and feed.

Pain Perception and Edibility

Garden slugs have no capacity to feel pain as they lack the central nervous system, which transmits sensory information in animals. Garden slugs have one hundred times fewer nerve cells than humans, making them excruciatingly indifferent to any form of pain.

Slugs are edible, and while it may not be a common choice in the West, in other countries, such as Japan, France, and Korea, it is a popular delicacy. In the western world, snail meat is a staple food enjoyed by gourmets.

Snails and slugs belong to the same gastropod family, meaning they have similar flesh that is entirely edible. If you decide to eat slugs, it is essential to prepare them properly and avoid those that have been feeding on contaminated material, such as pesticides or foreign plants.


Garden slugs are fascinating creatures that have several characteristics that are unique to their species, such as their regeneration ability in their tentacles but not their whole bodies, lack of ability to feel pain, and their edibility. Despite their reputation as pests that can cause significant damage to gardens, they are non-poisonous and pose no danger to humans.

When handling garden slugs, it is important to wash hands thoroughly after contact and be aware of the risks of inhaling the slime. By understanding more about garden slugs, we can learn to appreciate them for their unique characteristics and their place in the ecosystem.

In conclusion, this article explored various aspects of garden slugs that are useful for gardeners and anyone keen on understanding these fascinating creatures. We have examined their appearance, traits, behavior, feeding habits, benefits, and detriments, as well as natural ways to keep slugs out of the garden.

Additionally, we thoroughly examined methods to eliminate, prevent, and tackle future slug infestations. Lastly, we discussed unique facts about garden slugs, such as their lack of ability to feel pain and their edibility.

Understanding all of these important points is crucial for cultivating a beautiful and healthy garden while keeping it free from pests such as garden slugs.

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