How to Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden

Updated on April 23, 2016
How to get rid of slugs in your garden.
How to get rid of slugs in your garden.

Slugs can wreak havoc on your garden. These nocturnal feeders love the tender leaves and petals of new plants. I have woken up many mornings to find my plantings completely destroyed by the slimy creatures. Unfortunately, getting rid of slugs can be quite difficult. They hide during the day, and unless you want to stand in your back yard in your jammies with a flashlight and pick each of the little buggers off your plants you may have to try several methods before finally finding a combination that will work. There are, however, many methods of getting rid of slugs that will assist you in the all-out war against the bane of every gardener’s existence…the slug.

Discourage slugs by changing your watering schedule

Before you begin your attempt at exterminating slugs from your garden, try to deter them from coming into the area by changing your watering schedule. Slugs are attracted to damp conditions, so don’t water your garden in the evening. It makes the perfect conditions for slugs to come out and feast. Instead water during the hot sun of the day, making sure there is enough time for the surface area of your garden to dry out completely.

Use Ammonia to kill slugs

Mix 1 part ammonia with 5 parts water in a watering can. At dawn or dusk walk around your garden and water all the plants in sight. Household ammonia not only kills slugs, but at that dilution the ammonia solution actually provides a source of nitrogen which plants absorb through their leaves. So it’s good for your plants. I have seen suggestions for stronger solutions, but with a 1:5 ratio there is a smaller chance of burning the tender foliage of the plants you are trying to protect.

Make a slug trap with beer

Before bed, pop open a bottle of beer and relax on your patio. Drink your beer, but don’t drink it all. Leave about an inch of beer in your bottle. Then take your almost empty beer bottle and lay it on its side in the garden. Slugs are attracted to the yeast in beer, and they will gravitate to it throughout the night. In the morning, you will return to a bottle filled with dead slugs. If drinking the beer isn’t your thing, you can also bury a couple of shallow dishes in your garden. Then fill the dishes with beer before bed. Again, you will awake to a dishes filled with dead slugs. If you have pets, beware that your furry friend may drink your bait before the slugs get a chance to feed on it.

Get rid of slugs with egg shells and coffee grounds

Serve your slugs their last breakfast. Collect eggshells and coffee grounds. Crush the eggshells, and then scatter the eggshells and coffee grounds around the area you want protected against slugs. The coffee grounds are a natural pesticide against slugs, and crushed eggshells will cut up the undersides of any slug trying to go over it. The added benefit in this method is that both eggshells and coffee grounds are a great natural fertilizer for your garden.

Put salt on slugs to kill them

Slugs will dehydrate and die if you put salt on them. Even as a child I knew this little trick. Sprinkle some ordinary table salt on the slug’s body and it will die. The problem in using this method to get rid of slugs is that you have to find the slug to sprinkle it with salt. Also, keep in mind, that your plants will not love you for it. Doing this one time to a plant won’t cause it much harm, but repeated application of salt could kill it. Consider putting salt on slugs as a backup method of riding your garden of slugs. If you happen to see a rogue slug during the day, grab the salt and sprinkle away.

Which of way of getting rid of slugs in the garden will you be most likely to try first?

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Getting rid of slugs by setting traps

Slugs are attracted to moist dark places. At dusk, set out garden pots turned upside down or planks of wood as a trap. Then water directly around your trap. The slugs will gravitate to the damp pots and wood throughout the night. In the morning, turn over your trap and the underside will be covered with slugs. You then get to hand pick the slugs off the pot and put them in a bucket of water that has a few drops of dishwashing soap in it. The little bit soap will kill the slugs. To me, this seems like cruel and unusual punishment…for me. I have no desire to touch the slimy buggers. Instead, I use smaller garden pots and put the whole pot in a 5 gallon bucket of water with soap. The traps aren’t as big, but it’s a small price to pay to not have to touch the slug. You can also use half a melon, grapefruit, or orange rind turned upside down. The rind can just be disposed of in the morning.

Use pellet baits as slug control

Your local garden center will sell Iron Phosphate pellets that you can scatter around your garden. The slugs will eat them and die in about a week after they ingest the pellet. Slugs can do a lot of damage in a weeks’ time, so I’m not a fan of this method. In addition, although companies say that the Iron Phosphate pellets are safe pets they also say that care should be taken when using the pellets around children or pets.

Shock slugs with a copper barrier

If a slimy slug’s body crosses a copper barrier it will receive a small electric shock. You can purchase copper tape to place around the area you want to protect from slugs. The tape needs to be at least two inches thick to be effective for slug control. This method may work for the protected area, but it can be pretty expensive. Also keep in mind that it won’t kill the slugs, just shock them so they will be still be around to find another place to feast in your garden.

There you have it, a plethora of ways of getting rid of those pesky slugs in your garden.

Which way is the best? Well if there was a “best” way, there wouldn’t be so many ways. They all are proven effective. You can try one or try them all. Hopefully they will help you in getting rid of slugs in your garden.


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