9 All Natural Ways to Keep Slugs Out Of Your Garden

natural-slug-control-copper-tubing.jpg So you’ve planted that organic garden and much to your dismay, your plants aren’t thriving and you begin to notice holes in the leaves.


Slugs multiply rapidly and can totally destroy your garden if left unchecked.

Don’t be fooled, not every “all natural” garden pest control technique will actually work on slugs. In fact, many are little more than old wives’ tales at best.

That said, here are 9 all natural ways to protect your garden from slugs… including the way that saved my garden this year too!


My Battle With Slugs

You may recall that I constructed my very first container garden from reclaimed shipping pallets back in early June.

Well the tomatoes, basil, zucchini squash, and crookneck squash have all thrived since then, but the sweet banana peppers and red bell peppers have done nothing!

After varying my watering schedule and trying some other ideas to hopefully get those peppers plants growing, I began to notice holes in the leaves of my pepper plants.

Here’s a picture of how mine looked:



Do some of your plants look the same?

While helping some people move last weekend, I mentioned my dilemma to a friend who told me that I most likely had slugs that, coincidentally, love to feed on pepper plants.

Ah hah!


All Natural Ways To Control Slugs

  1. Beer: Those pesky slugs hold their alcohol like a 12-year-old girl. Ideal Bite has some clever thoughts on using beer traps for natural slug control… including the “one for you, one for me” approach. Ha!
  2. Egg Shells: Mother Earth News recommends crushing up egg shells and sprinkling them around your plants. Obviously the egg shells will also benefit the soil as they decompose… so they provide double the benefit.
  3. Diatomaceous Earth: Diatoma what? Diatomaceous earth is basically the natural fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Just as with egg shells, soft-bodied pests (like slugs and snails) will not crawl over it… for the same reason humans won’t walk on broken glass.
  4. Sandpaper: Just as with egg shells and diatomaceous earth, rough sandpaper is too painful for the slugs to cross.
  5. Citrus Rinds: Planet Green recommends using upside down halves of grapefruit rinds as a slug traps. Set them out at night and you’ll have slugs up inside them in the morning. Personally i’m not a big fan of the trapping techniques as I don’t really want to have to see and dispose of the slugs… they disgust me. Blah!
  6. Seaweed: EarthEasy.com says, “If you have access to seaweed, it’s well worth the effort to gather. Seaweed is not only a good soil amendment for the garden, it’s a natural repellent for slugs. Mulch with seaweed around the base of plants or perimeter of bed. Pile it on 3″ to 4″ thick – when it dries it will shrink to just an inch or so deep. Seaweed is salty and slugs avoid salt. Push the seaweed away from plant stems so it’s not in direct contact. During hot weather, seaweed will dry and become very rough which also deters the slugs.” Be sure to check out EarthEasy’s list of natural slug repellents. You’ll find some of the same and some different methods than what we’re talking about here.
  7. Organic Baits: The Weekend Gardner web magazine recommends using either Sluggo or Escar-Go. How do they work? Iron phosphate. Weekend Gardner says, “Iron phosphate is an organic compound that is found naturally in the soil, and if the bait is not consumed by a slug or snail, the material breaks down into fertilizer for your soil. Iron phosphate is not volatile, and does not readily dissolve in water, which minimizes its dispersal beyond where it is applied.”
  8. Companion Planting: I didn’t know about companion planting when we planted our garden, but I’ll definitely be using it next year. Basically, certain plants planted near each other benefit each other and may also deter certain pests. Plants that deter slugs are: wormwood, rue, fennel, anise, and rosemary.


My Favorite Natural Slug Deterrent

As you can see in the picture at the top of this post, I went with the copper tubing/flashing method.

Similarly to the eggshells, sandpaper, and diamateous earth methods, slugs and snails will not crawl over copper tubing or flashing.

Why? Because the copper reacts with the slime that they are covered in and issues them a small electric shock.

Yeah, that’d be enough to deter me too.

As with many of these listed methods of naturally controlling slugs in your garden, the copper tubing or flashing would not address the problem if slugs are already present in your garden. For that reason, I made the copper rings to fit around the individual pepper plants themselves.

The above mentioned Weekend Gardner article says,

“In order for the copper to continue to work, it needs to be cleaned periodically with vinegar or it will tarnish and no longer work.”

I’m glad I found that article to share with you, because I actually didn’t know that myself!

Got any helpful and natural slug control methods that have worked for you?

Please do share them in the comments. Remember, knowing is half the battle (Yo, Joe!).


Yo. I'm Jeffrey. I think every little step is an awesome one when it comes to living green... but eco-snobbery sucks.

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  • 7 Daffodils

    Some one said that pennies work too (for the copper idea)

  • 7 Daffodils

    Some one said that pennies work too (for the copper idea)

    • deeb

      I used pennies but found that they moved around too easily and the slugs went for even the tiniest entry space.

    • Lorieann

      pennies work on flies from comming in your home, put pennies in a baggie with some water in it tape above your doorways, they keep them out of your house.

  • low flying penguin

    Companion planting is very good indeed! However, according to ‘Ecology Action’, fennel is disliked by most plants and veggies so maybe avoid that as a deterrent… They recommend an oak leaf mulch, and tanbark (whatever it is??) due to the acidity and tannines that repels slugs.

    I’d like to have some toads and hedgehogs to do it for me, but unfortunatly my cat would just eat them if she found them! Can you train your cat to eat slugs I wonder?????

  • Charles

    I used slug shields last season and was happy with their effectiveness. They are a copper solution that also deters the slugs by a physical barrier. Great thing is that they are 100% eco-friendly and they last all season. I got them online.

  • deeb

    I have a question about the seaweed. I have alot at my disposal. Last year when starting to slather it on my garden allotment, a seasoned community gardener told me I had better wash it first because of the salt. I have not seen that issue addressed previously. Does anyone else have any info about that?

  • http://www.pest-extermination.org/ Pest Control

    I also have my own organic garden and facing the problem with slugs. Your tips and advice helped me a lot. Thanks for sharing!

  • jay

    oyster shells work very well.

  • Sharni

    I’ve found the best natural way to remove slugs, snails and slaters from my garden is to buy a couple of ducks and chooks. They love to eat the little pests and give you eggs and make you laugh lots too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kathy.lukins Kathy Lukins

    is there enough copper in modern pennies to repel slugs?

  • http://www.facebook.com/mearthling Christine Pike

    Ugh, drowning slugs and snails in beer is harsh to me. There are lots of alternatives to deter them but torturing any life form should never be an option. Love is love. Killing is killing.

    • Sugar sugar

      “Ugh” shut up to this weirdo. “oh the poor snails that eat my food so I can’t eat it, let them live”. So what are the “alternatives” then eh Einstein? Holding a slug party with cake and ice cream? Wake up out of your weird fantasy land. You don’t know 1 alternative you’re just spouting off ridiculous childish ideas that make no sense. You probably believe in abortion though, but DON’T kill the slimy snails — boo hoo hoooooo! x-0

      • Maddie Hopper

        ….now look who’s being childish!

  • buzybee

    Be careful with the diatomaceous earth. Some people like to spray it on their plants and I have heard that it is both bad for you to inhale and will kill honey bees. A safe way to use it in the garden would be to carefully spread it on the soil itself, the dust won’t be flying in your face (you should still wear a mask) and the bees won’t be harmed since they’re not interested in your soil.

  • growerjenn

    just my 2 cents — but don’t waste you money on the diatomaceous earth or the “scratchy” mulches. I used 50 pounds of DE in my garden last summer and at night I’d go out and see hundreds of them crawling on and burrowing in it to get to (and deciminate) my bean plants – and a lot of other crops, too. The only thing that finally worked is a 50/50 ammonia water spray directly on them. It killed them instantly. Flip over ever board and rock all day and spray away.

  • Chooch

    Tried egg shells, the snails crawl right over them. Must be those firewalking snails that walk over broken glass huh? Doesn’t work, more Internet nonsense.

  • Chooch

    Also: Copper pipe is about a dollar a foot at Home Depot. Why not just hire an armed guard to watch over my plants.

  • Lilith Moon

    I’ve been using crushed oyster shell/egg shells beer traps, and spraying plants with water I’ve crushed garlic cloves into, it stinks, but seems effective.

  • Mary Froemke

    STAY AWAY from Sluggo & other iron phosphate pellets/baits. It killed 3 of my chickens before I figured out what was going on. Even though its OMRI listed & they claim it’s “safe to use around children, pets & wildlife”, THAT IS A BALLD-FACE LIE. What they don’t tell you is that the inert ingredients are EDTA & corn starch. The EDTA causes toxic Fe3 to be released when ingested causing death. The corn starch makes it extremely attractive to birds, dogs & other animals. They could have put Bitrex in it to keep animals & children from eating it, but they didn’t even do that. I can’t imagine how many wild birds are carrying this stuff off, back to their nests to feed to their young & all dying. There have been numerous reports from veterinarians & dog owners of serious sickness & death from their dogs getting into the stuff which the company continues to systematically suppress & ignore.

  • Papaya Guy

    Aloha all, I am a particle physicist and I will tell you that copper does not work. In fact, the slime produced contains copper peptides and they benefit from it. I have done numerous experiments in my own garden and they don’t seem to have a preference of whether they cross the copper or not. But beyond all of that, if copper is supposed to deliver a “shock” to the mollusc, where does the energy come from? Is copper secretly absorbing the it from the Earth’s magnetic field? The only way that Cu has worked for me is in the form of a helical shape similar to DNA at the base of the plant roughly 5 inches in diameter. The most effective method that I use is just going out at night and throwing them into a large area of weeds. No killing whatsoever. If that is too much fight for your food then get a few ducks. Can’t have ducks? Drink the beer and place the empty can around the base of the plant while they are young. If you want to make your garden smell like garlic, coffee or ammonia, I would say just use Neem oil. They don’t seem to like that. I hope this helps, aloha.

    • Papaya Guy

      Copper peptides are naturally occurring small protein fragments that have high affinity to copper ions