There are several ideas on how to control an over population of garden snails, important information to have as you really don’t want to spend your time and money preparing a garden only to wake up and find it all eaten.
In the case of my Raised Garden Bed – No Dig Garden I knew I would have a problem with snails. There were small shrubs nearby and it had also been raining, I had seen the tell tale signs of snail trails heading for the new garden. Combine that with a few dozen seedlings and it was the chance for a snail feast.
There was no way I wanted to use any commercially prepared snail bait as I had the pets and local birds etc to consider. I did manage to use the following two techniques successfully, it took vigilance and patience, but it did keep the seedlings alive and well.
Snail Beer Trap
This works really well in dry or wet weather.As you may know, garden snails just can’t resist beer, in fact they really really love it. We went out each night about one hour after dark to set the beer traps. I used old pie dishes from the kitchen. They were made from metal which worked well.
Go out into your garden and see which direction the garden snails will likely come from. That is where you will place your snail traps. You can work this out by leaving a small seedling out over night and watching where the snails mainly come from. Just look for the snail trail which is the shiney path they leave behind.
Have a few dishes available and make a well in the ground so that the bottom of the dish is lower than the surface of the ground. (The top of the dish should be level with the surface).
Just fill the snail trap dish with beer and leave it, go inside, relax and let the snails have a party outside with your beer. Garden snails have very quiet parties so you will still get a good nights sleep.
When you arrive back in the morning its probable:· you won’t see any snails as the early birds will have taken them for their breakfast.· or some will be lying up-side-down in the dish drunk and totally incapable of eating your plants.
I did this for the first two to three weeks of the new Raised Garden Bed – No Dig Garden and had no problem with snails at all. By that time the seedlings had grown large enough to not be troubled by snails.
I have been asked if snails prefer full strength or light beer. We only used full strength beer as I wanted them to get drunk, fall asleep where they were and not wander off to eat my seedlings.
Snail Salt Trap
Snails will not walk over salt, they hate the stuff.There was a small path that snails crossed to get to the garden, when the weather was dry I placed a line of salt across the path.
I had no real problems with the snails using these two techniques, I only had to protect the garden for the first three weeks.
Snail Hair Trap
I had been told and read that snails will not cross over human or dog hair. The sharp ends of the hair pierce the underside of garden snails so they retreat. I did try this with my dogs fur after he had been groomed and it did work – until it rained. Once it rained the hair was soft and the snails went straight over the top onto the garden.
Snail Crushed Egg Shell Trap
Snails have a soft underside and dislike going over sharp objects like crushed egg shells. This may work well, I have not tried it myself as I didn’t have enough egg shells.
Snail Copper Trap
I am led to believe this works really well, I have not tried it as I don’t have any copper strips. The idea is to place copper strips around the border of the garden you are protecting – strips about 1-2 cm or 1 inch wide. When any snails try to go over the strip the copper gives them a small electric shock and the snails retreat.
Snail Bird Netting Trap
This suggestion comes from Ted in Ohio. I use bird netting to keep snails away from my plants. Just gently place the netting around the base of your plants and all of the snails and slugs will get caught up in them.
Porridge Oats Snail Trap
My neighbour Lyn heard of this one. Place porridge oats around the new plants, the snails come and eat the oats – bloat up and die. Guess the birds will get to finish them off quickly.