Natural Slug Control

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Looking for some tips on natural slug control?  Here are some methods to try.

It’s been a little while since my last green gardening tip but I thought I’d follow that post up with a topic close to my heart – natural slug control.  I’m not a fan of slug pellets.  Not only do they kill slugs but their predators, and pets as well.  And as I’ve got a little person that likes to play in the garden and dig around in the soil I’d really rather avoid chemicals.

Natural Slug Control Methods We’ve Tried

how to get rid of slugs

In our four and a bit years of living in our first house with a garden, we’ve tried all sorts of natural slug control methods.  Here’s a round-up of the ones we’ve tried.  As you can see it’s been a really long-running battle. Maybe some of these will work for you?


Some people swear by copper piping and copper rings as a means of natural slug control.  When we had an old gas fire removed a few years ago we reused the copper piping. We put it around our vegetable seedlings, much like a fortress.  This was completely ineffective.  Copper rings that go round the base of your plant may be better. However, I was so disheartened by the abject failure of our copper fortress that I didn’t want to spend money on them.


Other people swear by placing smashed-up eggshells around the base of your plant. This acts as a deterrent as it’s so uncomfortable for the slugs to crawl over.  I tried this repeatedly and still, my plants got munched.  The eggshells have to be clean and dry – so when you water your plants or it inevitably rains then your eggs annoyingly no longer act as a deterrent.


As a variation on this, some people suggest placing gravel around your plants.  I didn’t try this as the eggshell method failed so spectacularly. I’d imagine the gravel would also have to be bone dry to be effective. When you live in Scotland the chances of dry weather happening are slim!


Another top natural slug control tip I heard of was to place coffee grounds around the base of your plant.  One year I saved all the coffee grounds from work (my workmates drank a lot of coffee!). I then carried them all home on the bus, spread them around my plants, and still my plants got munched.  Again, when they get wet the coffee grounds get washed away, so you’re going to need an awful lot of coffee grounds for this to stand a chance of working. Try getting on good terms with your local coffee shop!  Also, invest in a sturdy container – my partner witnessed a lady get on his bus with bags and bags of coffee grounds (presumably saved from a coffee shop) – the plastic bags burst on the bus and there were coffee grounds everywhere!


Another method I tried was placing hay around my plants.  I found this actually made our slug problem worse – the slugs seemed to be sheltering in the hay rather than repelling them, and were also possibly laying their eggs in there.

Wildlife Ponds

Another natural slug control method we tried was as natural as it gets – encouraging frogs and toads in to our garden.  We built a little wildlife pond that was frog and toad friendly yet we’ve never seen one frog or toad in it.  One of our neighbours found a frog in her pondless garden (typical!), so she put it in our pond apparently. We didn’t see it, and still, the slug population remained as high and aggressive as ever.

Grow Indoors

This year we decided to take quite a firm stance and have upped our natural slug control game.  We started growing our plants indoors in the hope that they would be large enough to withstand a slug attack.  Or so we thought.  Less than one week in the garden and one pea plant has been completely and utterly decimated by slugs, and one squash plant is very nearly a goner.

slug control

Plants pre slugageddon.

Other Natural Slug Control Methods to Try

As you can see it’s been a litany of bad luck, with the score being a very miserable Slugs 6 – Wendy 0.

There are a couple of methods we haven’t tried and one we’re trying this year.  Here are the two we haven’t tried:


The classic natural slug control method is salt, but I have to say I’m reluctant to try this.  The salt will probably get washed away when it rains or your water your plants, and it might increase the salinity of your soil, which isn’t too great for plants.  I think it would be ok sprinkled around pots though if you’re container gardening on slabs.  Our garden isn’t slabbed so this isn’t a route for us.

Manual Collection

For the committed, going out at night and picking off the slugs (and snails) is a good time to catch them in the act.  Slugs mostly feed at night to keep their moisture levels up and avoid predators, such as birds and frogs.  Just pick them off, put them in a bucket and take them fairly far from your prize vegetables.  I’m a bit squeamish when it comes to slugs (some bad experiences involving bare feet – I’ll leave it at that!) so I haven’t done this. However, it’s probably an effective eco-friendly natural method of dealing with slugs that doesn’t kill them.


We have now turned to beer traps.  Apparently, the sweet beer smell is irresistible to the slugs and they climb in, drink the beer and forget to climb out again.  Which is a pleasant way of saying they drown.

natural slug control

I have cut some plastic bottles in half and filled them with half beer (a cheap 65p can of 2.5% lager from the Co-Op) and half water. I’ve then dug them into the ground, near my prize vegetables, with a lip of about 3cm sticking out of the soil so beetles and other creatures don’t accidentally fall in.  In case they do I’ve popped a stick in so they can climb out:

best slug killer

The trap in situ – can you see the plant the slugs completely destroyed?!  There’s nothing more than a green stalk, where once verdant leaves were!

So far we’ve caught a few slugs. I really have high hopes that we can get through the season without losing too much to slugs.  We’ve had a fair bit of heavy rain, so I really need to go and buy more cheap beer to top the traps up.

What natural slug control tips do you swear by? Have I missed anything that we should be trying?  And what ones did you find really didn’t work?  I really have my fingers crossed on the beer trap method!

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  1. Hi
    Ive used copper rings and copper tape to very good effect. So long as plants arent overlapping others so that slugs cant crawl up the ones without copper, and onto the ones that have! They dont like travelling over the copper tape or rings that you buy specially for gardens, and they last for years. Also wool is quite effective, more especially untreated and natural.

  2. I have found the most natural way, and one which has worked very well for me, is wool. Dags off fences, though now harder to find or fleece, carded or not, spread around in a COMPLETE circle round the plant, or tray of pots in the greenhouse deters slugs. They do not like climbing over loose fibres.

  3. Just leave some half grapefruit skin out over night. During the day you’ll find slugs will collect under it to avoid sun. If you can face it just turn it upside down and scrape then into a bucket..

    1. I love this tip – off to the shops to buy grapefruit now! Hadn’t thought about creating a sun-shade for them as a means to get rid of them – very clever!

  4. I use nematodes, a natural predator of those slugs which spend most of their time hidden under the soil. Nematodes don’t wipe out the slug population but they do seem to have a significant impact on the level of slug damage my allotment suffers compared to others. I get them from Garden Organic, but they are also available in some garden centres.