Slugs and snails have their place in Nature’s grand scheme of course, but you don’t need or want them in your garden. They can destroy your favourite plantings overnight with the tooth-like projections on their tongues.
Manufactured snail bait is readily available and it works, but with serious drawbacks in that you risk poisoning plants and other creatures that weren’t targeted. There are other non-poisonous ways to defend your garden against these pests and though they may take a little more effort, they work just as well. Start with clearing off any heavy foliage (weeds) in corners and edges of the garden, as that’s where they shelter during the daytime.
Encourage natural predators that like to eat slugs and snails; frogs and toads can be invited with a small pond and/or piles of leaves and fallen branches, and they can devour dozens of slugs overnight if they invite relatives in for dinner. Some birds such as thrushes also love snails; you can attract them with berry bearing shrubs and trees they like to nest in.
Slugs and snails don’t like to travel on a rough surface, so small plants can be protected with a ring of crushed egg or nut shells or gravel. For larger plants you can use a ridge of rough sand, cinders or crushed oyster shells; belly-crawlers really hate these materials. Copper strips, available from most garden centres, are also excellent deterrents.
Other tried and true methods include snail hunting – simply go searching at dawn or dusk when the snails are out and visible, and whack them in half with a garden shovel or like instrument, a satisfying and effective alternative. Don’t forget the flat beer; snails can’t resist it and if you sink a container to soil level and fill it with any old beer you have a very effective and environmentally friendly snail trap.