How to Get Rid of Garden Slugs Naturally

Have you noticed little silvery trails on some of your chewed plant leaves? You just may have slugs in your garden.

Slugs feeding on an orange slice - capture them in action.

Slugs feeding on an orange slice - capture them in action.

Slugs can be a big problem when it comes to plants and vegetables.  As vegetable gardeners, we hate to see the fruits of our labor destroyed by slugs.  If you’re gardening organically, getting rid of slugs doesn’t have to be a problem, because there are some things you can do to naturally to rid these little slimy critters from your garden.

Here’s how:

#1 – Remove their habitat –  Rake up your garden mulch and any plant refuse in spring and compost it. Slugs are attracted to mulches that decompose. Start your new garden in the cleared soil and add a fresh blanket of mulch in early summer, as the weather gets drier and hotter.

#2 – Build a slug barrier – For raised bed gardeners, this is quite easy.  Simply attach a barrier to the top edge of the bed that the slugs won’t cross.  The best material to use is a strip of copper all around the sides of your borders.  Slugs don’t like copper and so it will be difficult for them to enter.

#3 – Make it rough – Slugs don’t like bumpy or rough textures, as it is difficult for them to crawl on it.  Crushed egg shells or spiky gravel chips around your vegetables make this task difficult.  Recycle old sandpaper disks as plant protectors. Just cut a slit from center to outer edge and wrap the disk around your plant’s stem. Slugs will avoid your new scratchy barrier. Chicken grit (used for feeding chickens) is another great alternative.  Cocoa shells are a good mulch alternative which slugs don’t seem to like.  Be aware, however, that cocoa shells are toxic to dogs.

#4 – Build a trap – You can purchase pre-made traps at the garden center or cheaply and simply make your own.  Place small plastic tubs (a bottom of a cut plastic cup will do) in your vegetable patch.  Fill these traps with beer.  As the slugs crawl up the traps they will fall in the beer and drown.  Or, put some beer in plastic drink bottles and lay them on their sides in the garden. The slugs will crawl in and drown. Dump them out and start over again.

#5 – Use your hands – This is by far the most time consuming way of removing slugs but if all else fails it’s good to catch them at dusk (this is when they tend to be out) and remove them one by one from your plants.

#6 – Keep It natural – Another great way to get rid of slugs is by increasing the wildlife in your garden.  Wild birds love to eat slugs.  Put up birdfeeders and food around the garden to attract wild birds which will in turn keep the slug population low.