My trick for low maintenance, affordable, salt-free, organic snail repellent

Updated Oct 12 2015
Guest post by Mariah Ultraviolet
By: leszekleszczynski – CC BY 2.0
By: leszekleszczynskiCC BY 2.0

I have never been much of a gardener. Growing up, I always enjoyed spending time in the garden, but was much more interested in eating the fresh produce than actually planting it and taking the time to watch it grow. Like many other things in my life, my feelings about gardening have turned around completely this Spring, as I enjoy it with a young toddler.

I knew that a raised bed is the most practical place to plant anything you do not want consumed by gophers. I sowed some seeds, but opted to include a few starters for some instant gratification. Our garden was well on its way!

The next day, I was pleased to see that the gophers had not engineered a ladder system to invade our garden bed overnight. Another pest, however, had paid us a visit. Snails had munched several tiny holes in our baby lettuce. Annoyed, I began searching the internet for natural snail repellents. Most resources suggested one salt-based concoction or another that you could apply around your garden area.

My first thought was that I had better things to do than sprinkling or spraying things around the yard all day — I already water it, isn't that enough? Over the course of my online research I recalled reading something about putting crushed eggshells around your plants, because slimy things don't like the sharp texture. I also heard that slugs hate rosemary.

rosemary

Fortunately, we have two good-sized rosemary plants in our yard. I pulled off several long sprigs and lined the inside perimeter of our garden bed with it — what did I have to lose? If slugs do in fact have an aversion to rosemary, this should do the trick. As a bonus, it is somewhat prickly, so I figured once it dried it would be particularly uncomfortable to slime your way over.

I am not sure which factor deters the snails, or if it is just a coincidence, but we are going on three weeks completely free of snail invasions. I lay down some new rosemary when a part of my perimeter is looking sparse, but other than that it is really low maintenance.

I am looking forward to sharing the "fruits" of our labor with my family later this spring! Here's to all the gardening in the years to come.

There you have it: our organic, salt-free, low maintenance snail repellent. What are some ways you keep your organic garden pest free?

  1. I needed this! I have a *very* few veggies planted, and the slugs have come in force. I hated the idea of sprays or salt, so mean! Thank you!

  2. You can also get some carnivorous snails.

    I think your rosemary idea is best – it keeps the snails out. But if you couldn't keep the snails out because your area is too big or lacks a defined border, you can buy a container of carnivorous snails at most lawn and garden stores. They eat the bad snails and slugs, not your plants.

    Where I grew up, the city populated some local parks with these critters. So I have always just gone and picked them up by hand and took them back to my flower garden when we noticed the snails were getting out of control…

  3. Great idea! I've never heard of this before. And I never use as much rosemary as my plant produces, so it's nice to finally have a use for the extra.

  4. I bought this for my yard. We have a small front yard, but too large to use the rosemary. I bought this roll of copper mesh. Snails and slugs won't cross it because it gives them a tiny electric shock. Cut off a length and encircled the plant tying the two ends together. Made my yard very bright and shiny. The roll is huge, so it'll last several seasons.

    http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Slug-Snail-Copper-Mesh/dp/B00A3WOIYY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1430334159&sr=8-2&keywords=copper+snail+tape

  5. Used coffee grounds are also supposed to be effective. However, I love using copper tape around my pots; it's effective (but non-lethal) and it looks lovely! For large beds instead of pots, you can make 'collars' for the individual plants — you can use anything round, like petfood cans with the bottom cut out, or gallon ice cream tubs cut in round strips, and the copper tape on it. Just have to make sure there are no leaves acting as 'bridges' over the collar.

    • Yes! My first job was in a garden store in the Pacific North West – we sold "fancy", one inch wide copper tape to keep snails and slugs out. Really though, the 1/4 of an inch kind from the hardware store will work just as well. Also it looks nice.

  6. Terrified and horrified by Gastropoda. So grateful to learn this!!! Rosemary and copper will be my friends 🙂

  7. I haven't tried this myself, but I've heard that you can partially bury a half-full bottle of beer (that is, with the neck sticking up out of the ground), and the slugs and snails will be attracted to the scent, crawl into the bottle, get drunk* and drown.

    *They totally do get drunk, too; I've seen videos of slugs lolling around and falling off of shit after being fed beer.

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