Many gardeners see over the course of the year, some of their vegetables or their lawn doesn’t look as well as it should.
While there is a continual battle with things they see physically eating their way through a vegetable garden, there are things, which are not as obvious.
Snails are a close cousin to the slug. Between them, they can cause plenty of damage to a garden throughout their visits.
Snails chomp on leaves, and can actually bring a plant to its knees before the vegetable dies. This leaves gardeners wondering, are snails good for gardens, or are they an out and out pest?
Here, we will look at all you need to know about starting a veg garden and to anticipate an onslaught of snails and slugs.
You will see how to have pest control for these slippery things and keep them at a safe distance before they leave slime trails all over your garden to show where they’ve been.
Slugs and Snails Basics
Both snails or slugs are land mollusks, and in a way, they are related to shellfish and clams. You can easily see the difference between snail and slug because the snail has a shell.
What many people are unaware of is that snails and slugs have copious amounts of teeth.
When conditions are right, and the garden is damp, both of these will venture into your veggie garden and make use of their teeth on all your plants and veggies.
There are a few types of each and are often referred to by their correct names in Latin.
Cornu Aspersum – Better known as common garden snails.
Decollate Snails – Medium-sized predatory land snails from Europe but introduced around the world.
Helix Aspersa – Known as European Brown Garden Snails, and one of the most well known around the globe.
What Use Are Snails and Slugs?
There are many tales that snails and slugs can detect the weather. For gardeners who know this, it can be a help.
This isn’t their only beneficial purpose, but it is a start. Here are some of the stories you hear about snails in the garden, and how they can tell the weather.
Black snails crossing your path means rain is on its way. If you see snails climbing up trees, this is a sign of hot weather.
Garden slugs that are burrowing deep into the ground in summer signal there is the chance of drought. Slugs that are burrowing in the autumn time show that winter is almost there.
Once you get past these possible myths, then you need to look at what benefits do snails bring once they are away from your veggies. (Read What Do Lizards Like To Eat)
Snails and slugs that is unless they are the Field slug. They are active at night and enjoy eating dead garden matter to living plants.
Once they convert this into their feces, then this creates a rich nitrogen-based fertilizer, which is great for plants and veggies.
Bad Sides of Snails and Slugs
When you begin to look at the negatives of having these, you can see they are bad for the garden in various ways.
When you are at ground level, these slugs and snails don’t hurt gardens. It is when they climb, they cause trouble.
Snails can climb trees and shrubs, among other things, and will eat flowering buds. Fruit trees are another favorite where they begin eating fruit as it ripens.
Additionally, they will start to strip the bark of younger trees, and you can find irregular holes where they eat their way through leaves.
All these talks about snails, so are slugs bad. One thing they can do depending on the strain is to bury underground of your home garden and feed on roots. The Keel slug being the most known for this. (Read Kill Ants Naturally)
In fact, they can be more destructive than snails. As well as roots, they can eat bulbs when they are still underground.
Seedlings will be mown down once they begin to emerge, and the trail of slime they leave attracts other slugs.
Many gardeners ask, do snails damage lawns. If you seed your lawn, or during the spring when you have plenty of showers, then snails and slugs will feast on the succulent sprouting grass.
One other question some gardeners ask when they take part in container gardening. “Are snails good for potted plants?”
The answer is no, and they use these areas as hiding places. In the next section, you will see how to deal with this.
If you are into indoor gardening, then you may find a silver streak across your floor in the morning. Both slugs and snails can come indoors with your plant, or they will crawl in through any ideally sized hole.
How to Manage Snails and Slugs in Your Garden
There are ways; you can help deter slugs and snails in your garden. During the day, they never travel far and leave activity for the night.
Both of these land mollusks like sticks, mulch, and dead plant matter, so rather than mulching around your garden in the spring, you are better to leave it until summer once the activity of these slithering things ceases.
You can keep a buffer area of dry, bare soil around your garden perimeter for starters. Many experienced gardeners will create the ideal slug and snail real estate areas with wooden boards, upside down pots, and odd bits of lumber.
They don’t do this for the comfort of the pests; they will gather them and drown them in soapy water before disposing of them.
Aside from this, there are the poisons, baits, and traps, which is what we will see here.
Alternative Methods to Control Slugs and Snails
The common means of dealing with slugs and snails are as follows.
Gritty Pathways: Both slugs and snails don’t like to crawl over gritty substances. It is the friction; their slime aims to overcome. However, there are things you can sprinkle around your veggies that stop them in their tracks.
Get a load of crushed eggshells or diatomaceous earth. Sprinkle this around your plants, and you will see slugs and snails keep away. Be sure not to leave gaps they may find and sneak through to your plants.
Used coffee grounds are found to be toxic to slugs and snails. Use these to repel these pests by sprinkling it around the edges of your veggie garden.
You will need re-applications of anything like this in temperate climates where it may be warm and wet. These solutions will be washed away.
For raised gardens or containers and pot plants, you can create barriers that are proven to stop snails and slugs.
Planter rims can be smeared with a solution of salt and Vaseline. This stops them from hiding in one of their favorite places.
One of the best solutions to stop these pests from climbing is through the use of copper tape. You can purchase this online, and as the copper slowly oxidizes, it releases salts that these pests don’t like.
You can opt for a snail killer that contains iron phosphate. These are safer when kids are around, and they are effective.
However, not every gardener wishes to use more chemicals in their pest management process.
Inviting Predators to the Snail Party
You can find there are many things that like to feast on snails and slugs. If you like snakes, then you can introduce the small garter snakes. These, though, can deliver a good or bad impression depending on how you look at them.
Other things that like to feast on these brown snails are hedgehogs, moles (you don’t want moles), toads, and frogs.
However, one other beneficial pest; can help you control your slug and snail population.
Decollates eat the brown garden snail. Using snails to keep snail population down is one of the better ways, if not being on the slow side.
If you look, at what are slugs good for? There isn’t much apart from breaking down dead matter into great fertilizer. The issue being, you can‘t have these in one area of your garden without them wanting to venture toward your veggies.
Any gardener is better to take some precautionary measures and go through their garden to set traps and introduce the right kind of beneficial pests or other animals that can help to prevent these from your vegetable garden.
One of the most interesting replies so far is that these snails are the same as they eat like a French delicacy, so if you fancy eating snails, you can handpick them and have them for dinner.
Want more guides to removing pests from your garden then check out our following guides
- How to Make Mosquito Repellent
- How to Get Rid of Fire Ants
- How to Make a Fruit Fly Trap
- How to Keep Squirrels Out of Your Garden