Slugs and snails in the garden

Stop pests in their tracks before it's to late.

By Wendyl Nissen

Slugs and snails can break a gardener’s heart, when they come out to survey the newly planted seedlings and find them nibbled down to the ground. Here are some natural ideas for getting rid of slugs and snails, instead of using pellets, which contain the pesticide metaldehyde. It can also kill the very things that will eat these pests – the common garden hedgehog.


Two hours after sunset, grab a torch and the kids, and go snail hunting. Wet nights are usually the best and a full moon helps you find them. Pick them all off and throw in a bucket of soapy water to drown.


This is my most favourite method of elimination, because I like to think that they died drunk and happy. Simply dig a saucer into the ground so its rim sits at ground level and fill with beer. You will have instant results, so do remember to clean out every day and refill.

Diatomaceous earth

This is a chalk-like substance which is harmless to us, but attaches itself to the slug or snail’s body and dehydrates it. Sprinkle this liberally around your seedlings.

Coffee grounds

If you make your own coffee, empty the grounds out around your seedlings, as the slugs and snails don’t like slithering over the rough surface. You can also use wood ash, finely crushed shells or sand, or finely crushed eggshells.

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