4 Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Slugs in Your Garden

1. Distract with Shiny Objects

Copper creates an unpleasant electrical shock when slugs come into contact with it, which will deter them from passing. Create a barrier around your beloved garden by surrounding it with 4- to 6-inch copper flashing, or by wrapping susceptible plants with copper tape. Not only will the slugs stay away, but you can also reuse the copper flashing for several years to come. Keep in mind that this trick will only deter the slugs—not kill existing varieties.


A few more tips on how to get rid of slugs in the garden

In addition to these “power 8” ways to get rid of slugs in the garden naturally, there are a few other tricks you can try, though their effectiveness is debatable.

Diatomaceous earth has long been touted as a great slug control. It’s a fine powder that is very sharp microscopically and the edges easily cut through slug skin and desiccate them as they crawl over it. The trouble is that as soon as diatomaceous earth gets wet, it’s rendered useless. I don’t know many gardeners who have time to make a circle of dust around every plant and then replenish it after every rain or heavy dew. • A hearty sprinkle of salt, placed directly on a slug’s body, may desiccate it enough to lead to its death, but there’s a good chance the slug will simply shed its slime layer along with the salt and carry on as usual. I’ve seen it happen so many times that I put aside my salt shaker long ago. • And lastly, sharp-edged items, such as sweet gum seed pods, crushed eggshells, and dried coffee grounds have all been touted as great slug deterrents. I respectfully disagree and so do several studies.

Our online course Organic Pest Control for the Vegetable Garden, provides even more information about managing slugs and other pests naturally in a series of videos that total 2 hours and 30 minutes of learning time.

What kind of damage do slugs do?

Slugs will eat any kind of foliage, but you’ll often find them doing the most damage to the tender leaves and stems of seedlings. Slugs will also take bites out of vegetables and fruits (particularly soft fruits like strawberries), causing unsightly crops.

8. Plant slug-repellent plants

If you live in an area with lots of slugs, just slug-resistant plants might not be enough.

Luckily, some plants actively repel slugs, deterring them from entering that section of your garden.

  • Aromatics like rosemary, fennel, and anise are unpleasant to slugs and can help to keep them away from your garden beds. 
  • Foxglove contains a nerve toxin that keeps slugs away.
  • Euphorbia and Japanese Anemone contain a type of latex fiber that repels slugs as well as many other insects

How to get rid of slugs in the garden? Use plants!

Plants that repel the pests are the best way to get rid of slugs in garden. If you grow ecological vegetables in your garden – consider adding the following plants:

  • garlic,
  • onions,
  • mustard,
  • marjoram,
  • savory.

How about flowerbeds? Are you wondering if you can protect them from slugs naturally as well? Of course! Many different plants can enrich the flower border and protect it from pests. They are, for instance:

  • chamomile,
  • yarrow,
  • thyme,
  • sage,
  • wormwood.

Some of them are beneficial for health, so you can use them in different ways. For example, chamomile and wormwood are good stomach remedies, while sage has anti-inflammatory properties and it can be used for acne-prone skin.

It is recommended to plant slug repellent plants on the extreme edges of beds. This way, the pests will be discouraged from further penetration of the area.



4 Cheap Ways to Naturally Get Rid of Slugs

Okay, you tried preventative methods, and now you’re ready to get rid of slugs in your garden without the use of synthetic pesticides. Good news! There are a ton of ways to use traps and baits to reduce the slug population in your garden.

Manually Removing Slugs

As we’ve already talked about, slugs aren’t all bad! If you have a small infestation, just head out after dusk with a headlamp and pick those suckers off your plants. Drop them into a bucket of soapy water to kill them immediately, or move them to an area where birds and snakes can eat them—and the circle of life continues!

Plant Trap Crops

Planting trap crops is easily our favorite way to get rid of slugs and many other common garden pests. The gist is this: plant a crop that the slugs REALLY love to enjoy, they choose that plant from the garden buffet, and then you can sacrifice those plants and concentrate your slug removal methods there.

In general, slugs like to eat the tender leaves and shoots of new seedlings, but some plants are irresistible to slugs at any stage of growth. Slugs absolutely love to eat marigolds and basil. A robust border of either (or both) around your garden can go a long way to draw out slugs from your tender seedlings.

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

Beer Traps to Bait Slugs

The most common piece of advice you’ll get when dealing with slugs is to put out beer traps. Beer traps are easy and cheap to make, and the traps work well because slugs are attracted to the scent of the yeast in the beer. However, we don’t recommend them as a first line of defense. These traps do drown and kill slugs, but they frequently also kill beneficial insects, so we recommend only going this route if you are dealing with an overwhelming infestation.

To make a beer trap, simply take a clean, shallow container (a cleaned-out tuna can, small yogurt container, or butter tub all work really well), and bury it in the ground with about an inch sticking up out of the soil. Fill the can with beer—any beer works, but slugs tend to really like the yeasty smell of darker beers—and then wait for the slugs to crawl in and meet their demise.

Growfully Protip

Empty and refill your beer traps regularly. Slugs are not as attracted to stale beer as they are freshly-poured.

For beer traps to be successful, you need to place them about every 3 feet—which can become quite costly and labor-intensive for larger growing spaces.

Grapefruit Traps to Get Rid of Slugs

Grapefruit (and other citrus fruit) traps are live traps that are less deadly to beneficial insects than beer traps. Enjoy yourself a half of a grapefruit—scooping out the flesh inside. Then place the empty grapefruit half upside down in your garden. Overnight, slugs will be attracted to the sweet scent and take cover in these citrus domes, and in the morning, you can remove the grapefruit half, take it far away from the garden, and feed the birds!

Growfully Protip

Half a hollowed-out cantaloupe and an orange rind also work well for the grapefruit trap method. Some folks also use upside-down flowerpots or bowls to achieve a similar trap.

8. Make Tiny Copper Fences

Lore has it that copper shocks slugs; though I haven’t seen much science behind that theory. Whatever the magic, copper tubing, flashing, or tape works as an excellent barrier in keep slugs at bay. You can put it around certain plants or around whole beds – just be sure to have previously trapped all the slugs within the fenced area first.

How To Get Rid Of Slugs In The Garden Naturally

Now that you know all about slugs and where they come from, you can focus your pest control efforts to eliminate them from your garden.

Luckily, you don’t need to resort to using toxic chemical pesticides (and you shouldn’t!). There are tons of safe slug control methods that you can use to rid your garden of these slimy, plant eating pests.

1. Allow Natural Predators to Thrive

Since invasive species are not fun, we should all be wary of introducing new kinds of creatures to an ecosystem unless they are native and would be there anyway. That said, you can encourage native slug-hungry predators to inhabit your garden. For example, birds love slugs, so you could install a bird bath. Who else likes slugs? Ducks, chickens, nematodes, frogs, salamanders, newts, toads, snakes, turtles, hedgehogs, shrews, praying mantises, ground beetles, rove beetles, and fireflies, for starters.

10. Plant in containers or raised beds

For some gardeners, the easiest solution is to simply stop planting the plants that attract slugs, but that limits your selection.

Instead of eliminating these plants from your garden, consider planting them in tall containers to make it more difficult for slugs to get to your plants.

Traditional garden beds are a salad bar for slugs, so try making it less convenient for them to get to their favorite plants.

When you do the rounds in your garden, check these containers for slugs and remove them as necessary. 

6. Set Slug Traps

Slugs are attracted to moist dark places.

  1. At dusk, set out garden pots turned upside down or planks of wood as a trap.
  2. Then water directly around your trap. The slugs will gravitate to the damp pots and wood throughout the night.
  3. In the morning, turn over your trap and the underside will be covered with slugs. You then get to handpick the slugs off the pot and put them in a bucket of water that has a few drops of dishwashing soap in it. This little bit of soap will kill the slugs.

To me, this seems like cruel and unusual punishment. 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do slugs have a purpose?

Slugs can be beneficial to an extent because when they chew on and break down garden debris it converts to nitrogen-rich fertilizer. This in turn can enhance the nutritional value of the soil in a similar way that worm composting works. Slugs and snails are also beneficial as a food source for birds and other common garden critters like frogs, toads and snakes.

Should you kill slugs in your garden?

Like we mentioned above, slugs (in moderation) can serve some purpose for soil nutrition, however, they frequently become rampant and destroy gardens. Snails are also known for carrying diseases and parasites which can be a threat to household pets if they get ahold of one. 

Why are there so many slugs in my garden?

Typically, you’ll find a large amount of slugs or snails in your garden after it rains or after you’ve watered your plants. That’s because snails and slugs are moist creatures. They lose a significant position of their body weight by crawling around, and will therefore look for moist places to survive.  

Are slugs poisonous?

No, slugs are not poisonous. The only danger that slugs pose to gardens is that they eat the plants–making them more of a nuisance than a hazard.

6. Choose plants slugs hate

Slugs don’t like highly scented plants, so varieties like lavender, rosemary and sage are a good choice, as well as wormwood, rue, fennel, and anise, as recommended by Rentokil’s experts.

In fact, slugs tend to avoid most herbs so that’s one area of the garden that’s typically nibble free. They’re not keen on geraniums and begonias either. 

You can find out how to create a herb garden in our expert feature if you want to get planting some strongly scented herbs as soon as possible.

Slugs aren’t fans of highly scented plants like rosemary

(Image credit: Julian Hochgesang/UnSplash )

5. How to get rid of slugs in the garden with copper

The metal copper reacts with slug slime to cause a mild electric shock and send the slug packing. You can purchase copper tape here and surround susceptible plants with a ring of copper. This is an easy technique if you just want to protect a few hostas, but it’s more challenging for larger garden areas. However, one easy way to keep slugs out of raised beds is to make a copper collar around the outer edge of the whole bed by stapling or nailing a strip of copper tape or copper strips around the top of the bed’s frame. This also works for containers where the copper tape can be placed just inside the upper rim of the pot. There’s also a copper mesh called Slug Shield (available here) that can be used in a similar manner and is reusable. It’s a bit easier to wrap around a single plant stem than copper tape or strips.

Garden slugs can be kept out of raised beds with c
Garden slugs can be kept out of raised beds with copper strips, tape, or mesh.

3. Make a Slug Trap With Beer

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 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.

How to kill slugs – a slug beer trap

Perhaps you have heard that slugs and snails are real beer afficionados. They love its sweet taste and the smell spreading around. If you are wondering how to get rid of slugs effectively, consider making a slug beer trap. It is not too complicated to create, so you will surely succeed. Keep in mind, though, that it’s not the most humane method, as you simply drown the creatures. But if you have a real plague in your garden – anything goes, just like in a war.

Preparing a slug beer trap involves just a few steps:

  • Choose a medium-sized plastic container, where the caught-in-the-act slugs will end up.
  • Dig a hole in the ground, large enough to fit your container. It should poke about 1 cm above the ground.
  • Pour some beer into the container – 150-200 ml is well enough but the more you pour, the faster slugs will smell it and fall into the trap.

That’s really all you have to do. Make sure to empty the bucket from time to time and pour some fresh beer to lure more pests.



📍 Slugs in the garden – how to get rid of them?

You can use chemical products or home remedies to get rid of slugs in the garden. For a store-bought slug repellent, just go to a store where a specialist will tell you what to pick. If you want to use a homemade method, try baking soda, coffee or cinnamon. A beer trap is also a good slug killer.

📍 What do slugs do in the garden?

Slugs and snails in the garden usually appear when they search for food or shelter during hot and sunny days. You can also expect them if your garden is very humid and full of bushes and plant hideouts.

📍 What is a good slug repellent?

Slugs are repelled by various plants and herbs. Sage, chamomile, yarrow and wormwood are the most effective ones. You can also plant garlic or onions among vegetables to discourage the pests from exploring the area. Coffee grounds, cinnamon and soda spread on the ground are also good slug repellents.

📍 What do slugs eat in the garden?

Garden snails and slugs eat plants. There’s no problem if they choose some organic leftovers or dead parts of plants. Unfortunately, they also tend to eat healthy plants and flowers – that’s an issue. Snails without shell, that is, slugs are the biggest threat, as they are pests that eat plant roots as well.

Dorota Czerwińska                   Author


Dorota Czerwińska Author Dorota is an economist by profession, but her biggest hobby is photography and interior design. In Treehouse since the beginning of 2019. Contact: dorota@treehouse.co