How to Get Rid of Slugs in the Garden Organically

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7. Grow slug-resistant plants

While slugs eat many common garden plants, not all are equally attractive.

If you want to make your garden slug-proof from the start, try planting varieties that are resistant to slugs and less likely to be eaten.

These include:

  • strongly-scented or bitter plants, such as salvia, fennel and many herbs
  • anything that has furry or prickly stems and leaves. The slugs have a hard time getting a grip on them.
  • plants with thick and waxy leaves (like succulents). They just can’t chew through it.

Slug-resistant plants

  • Alyssum
  • Daffodil
  • Dianthus
  • Ferns
  • Fuchsia
  • Geraniums
  • Iris 
  • Lavender
  • Ornamental grasses
  • Peonies
  • Roses
  • Tulips
  • Sedum


6. Set up a slug fence

Believe it or not, you can make an electric fence for slugs. Yep, that’s right. Here are plans to make a tiny electric slug fence to place around raised beds and protect the plants from slugs. It runs on a 9 volt battery and zaps the slugs when they come in contact with the fence. It won’t hurt humans or pets and is a great way to protect a raised bed or other small garden.

4. Use organic bait

If you find that your slug problem is uncontrollable, and you need to turn to using poisonous baits, please be mindful of commercial products.

Many slug baits contain poisonous ingredients which can be harmful to other animals, pets, and soil health, and should be avoided.

Organic slug bait contains natural, non-toxic ingredients specifically targeted towards eliminating slugs – not anything that comes in contact with it. 

Search for slug baits that include iron phosphate as an active ingredient. Iron phosphate is safe to use in your garden and won’t harm kids or pets, and is generally recognized as safe by the FDA…except for slugs.

Sluggo is my favorite variety. You can find it HERE* on Amazon.

10. Plant sacrificial plants

Sacrificial plants, also known as trap plants, help protect your garden from pests by attracting the pests elsewhere. For example, if you are trying to protect an ornamental garden bed from snails, you can plant some lettuce in the back or in less-conspicuous spots. Snails like the taste of lettuces better than most ornamental plants, so they will more likely dine on your lettuce leaves than your pretty plants.

Controlling Slugs Using Diatomaceous Earth

Some gardeners swear by diatomaceous earth for pest control. Diatomaceous earth is made of the fossilized remains (silica) of small aquatic organisms called diatoms. Critters ingest the silica, causing them to dry up from the inside. Yet it is nontoxic to humans and pets.

  1. Pick a Dry Day

    Check the weather, and wait for a dry day to treat your garden. Make sure there's no rain in the forecast for at least 24 hours.

  2. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth

    Put on your gardening gloves and a dust mask, and sprinkle the diatomaceous earth in various spots throughout your garden. Take care not to sprinkle it on the leaves of the plants.

  3. Wait

    Wait several days for the slugs to ingest the diatomaceous earth. Repeat the process on another dry day if necessary.

The Spruce / Heidi Kolsky

2. Crack Open a Cold One

Slugs like beer as much as they like the leafy greens of your garden plants. Crack open a beer and pour it into a few margarine tubs, then distribute the containers in various places around the yard, burying them so that about an inch remains above ground. The slugs will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the tubs, and drown overnight. Dispose of the containers the next morning in your trash or compost bin.

3. How to get rid of slugs in the garden by trapping them

This is one of my favorite tricks for how to get rid of slugs in the garden, especially the vegetable garden. Lay 2×4’s between crop rows at dusk and then the following afternoon, when the slugs take shelter beneath them to avoid the sun, flip over the boards and collect the slugs or cut them in half with a sharp scissors. You can also easily trap them underneath inverted watermelon rinds placed throughout the garden.

12. Spread salt or baking soda

This is a lethal option, so, if you are trying to naturally deter snails without killing them, this is not the option to choose. Baking soda and salt dry out snails and slugs, which will kill them. This is incredibly painful for them and is not a nice way to kill them, but, since it is such a commonly used method, we did want to mention it here. So, it is an option, but it would be better to try other options on this list first.

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.

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.

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.

1. How to get rid of slugs with beer

Slugs like the smell of beer and will fall in if temptation is put in their path. So an easy and inexpensive way for how to get rid of slugs is to make a beer trap.

Although, experts at Rentokil (opens in new tab) say, ‘It is worth noting that this home remedy is only effective for a small slug problem. Controlling a large infestation can be quite expensive as the beer needs to be replaced daily.’

  1. Ease a plastic pot into the soil near plants that slugs make a beeline for. 
  2. Half fill it with beer.
  3. Et voila, no more slugs.

A beer trap can be an efficient way to get rid of slugs in a garden

(Image credit: Future)

7. Avoid planting certain flowers

Hostas, delphiniums, lupins and dahlias can get shredded by armies of slugs. 

Much as we love them, slugs love them more, so be prepared for a constant battle on your hands if you choose to fill your garden with them. Lettuce also needs TLC as it’s catnip for slugs.

Plants like dahlias will typically attract lots of slugs

(Image credit: Alamy)

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.

4. Construct a Fruity Trap

Next time you snack on a citrus fruit like grapefruit or orange, unpeel the rind carefully so you can keep one bowl-shaped half in tact. Poke a hole that’s large enough for a slug to fit through, and then sit the fruit upside down like a dome in your garden. The sweet scent will lure slugs in, distracting them from their usual meal: your plants. If a predator doesn’t get to them first, collect the fruit scraps the next morning and kill any live slugs by dumping them into a container of soapy water.

Tips for Controlling Garden Slugs

In addition to the above methods, you can use birds and other animals to naturally control slugs. Backyard chicken farmers can let their birds roam free to eat slugs and other pests that accumulate in the garden. You can even train your chickens to eat slugs by tossing some inside their run.

Chipmunks also feed on slugs. So if you have them around, leave them alone as long as they’re not disturbing your garden vegetables.

Finally, copper wire, mesh, ribbon, or tubing is also effective on slugs, as it delivers an electric charge to the creatures. Place it around planters and pots or in perennial beds to control slugs in areas that are rarely disturbed by digging or harvesting during the growing season.

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