Fewer things are more universally charming than a lively, green garden. A yard full of flourishing plants is also, unfortunately, a huge draw for all sorts of harmful pests. There is no headache like inspecting your growing plants only to notice that they’ve made little progress or suffered damage at the hands (and mouths!) of small garden invaders.
If when assessing the damage you notice chewed leaves and shiny slime trails, you can be certain that snails are to blame. Keeping your garden snail-free can be a challenging endeavor, so cover your bases with these 5 easy tips to defend against pesky snails this season.
Go Snail Hunting
If it feels like you’ve got a never-ending stream of snails coming through your yard, you may be on to something: a single snail can slink into your garden and lay up to 80 tiny eggs at once!
To protect your garden from potentially hundreds of hungry snails ready to munch on your plants, grabbing individual snails and moving their family reunion elsewhere may be the right strategy to keep your garden thriving. To make the most out of the hand-picking work, aim to catch snails in the mornings or evenings when they’re most active. It may seem laborious, but hunting them down yourself may be the most direct approach to cutting down or eradicating snails from your yard.
Place Snail Barriers
Much to your dismay, snails in your garden likely have unrestricted access to their desired food source: the roots and leaves of your plants. Most gardeners want to banish any unwelcome snails while leaving the soil composition and microbiome of their garden relatively undisturbed. These gardeners need to look no further than the contents of their own pantry and garage.
Natural items you may already have around the house can be used to create grating barriers that snails will be unable to pass over. Below a snail’s hard outer shell is the vulnerable, soft body they use to transport themselves around. Using irritating materials such as abrasive gravel, sharp eggshell fragments, diatomaceous earth, or rough wood chips will deter them from getting any closer to what they thought would be their next meal.
Put Up a Snail Fence
Both expert and amateur gardeners know that planning a garden often requires more than just a few trips to the nursery or hardware store. Next time you find yourself on such an errand, a quick walk to the electrical department might be in store.
Nothing says “keep out” to snails like a border of copper mesh or tape surrounding your plants. The ions found in copper metal react negatively with the proteins and ions found in snails’ slime, effectively repelling them. Placing these items on the perimeter of your flower beds will block snails by causing an unpleasant, aversive reaction when they come looking for a bite to eat.
Before using any barrier mechanisms to curb snails, first examine your garden for snails that might already be present (as well as those teeny snail eggs) to ensure you’re not unwittingly trapping any snails inside where they will continue to do damage.
Clear Ground Cover
Though our efforts to create a full, diverse garden may be well-intentioned, many of these plants actually provide top-of-the-line lodging for snails. Filling flower beds with lots of ground-covering plants invites snails in with the promise of moist soil and shaded spots for them to reside. Decaying plants or leaves on the ground provide the same appeal.
Gardeners can discourage snails from setting up camp in their gardens by simply cutting back on attractive ground cover and clearing away any decomposing leaves that might provide shelter for these small pests.
Also, try watering your plants when you first wake up to reduce snail activity. This allows the newly cleared soil to dry out through the hottest part of the day, sending snails packing and leaving you one step closer to a healthy garden free of snails.
Set a Snail Trap
Next time you’re enjoying a cold beer in your backyard, consider sharing some with the snails. Not unlike people, snails are easily enticed by the sights and smells of this popular drink. Beer traps are known to be an unfailing way to trap troublesome garden snails. Simply place a small container filled with beer in your garden, sit back, and wait for them to find their way in. Target only the unruly snails by burying the container with one inch above the soil to help prevent helpful, snail-eating bugs from making their way in. Best of all, you don’t have to be bothered with emptying the container daily—these creepy crawlers will be more interested in your beer trap after it has been in your garden for a few days.
Any damage to your garden can be discouraging, but incorporating these simple tips into your gardening routine can safeguard your plants from potential snail destruction. If you’ve seen the telltale signs of snail damage, don’t be dismayed. Give us a call with any questions or for help in keeping your yard pest-free this season.
Sources: https://s3.wp.wsu.edu/uploads/sites/2073/2014/03/Snails-and-Slugs1.pdf https://ucanr.edu/sites/glennmg/?story=1614 http://www.aos.org/orchids/orchid-pests-diseases/snails-and-slugs.aspx http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/slug.htm http://www.xerces.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/xerces-organic-approved-pesticides-factsheet.pdf http://arnobrosi.tripod.com/snails/evo.html http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/r107500111.html