7 simple ways to stop a slug infestation this spring
Slugs can be a big problem for gardeners. From munching lettuce heads to destroying young seedlings, slugs can make a meal of a wide range of ornamental plants and vegetables during springtime.
"Slugs are actually active all year round. However, gardeners tend to notice slug activity during springtime," Shannen Godwin, gardening expert from J Parker's, says. "Slugs prefer the warm and damp weather that spring brings and thrive on all of the seedlings, bulbs and new growth on plants, which makes their damage most noticeable in spring."
Symptoms of a slug infestation include:
Silvery slime trails
Irregular holes around plant leaves
Slime on chewed leaves
Seedlings may have all their leaves removed
Wondering how to get rid of slugs naturally? Slip on your gardening gloves and see what you can in the garden now...
1. Sow back-up seeds
Sowing your seedlings for spring? According to Shannen, always sow a few extras so that you are prepared in case slugs come to attack. "If you end up with too many, you can always gift seedlings to friends and family," she adds.
2. Attract predators
Getting rid of slugs is often a time-consuming and difficult task, but the experts recommend keeping your slug population down by attracting hedgehogs, blackbirds, starlings, thrushes, frogs and even toads to help naturally control and infestations.
Spring will soon be in full swing, so why not consider building your own garden pond, creating a log pile of hedgehogs, increasing a compost heap, or adding more hedges and shrubs. Now is the perfect time to attract wildlife to your outside space — and say goodbye to slugs for good.
3. Start mulching now
Natural mulch is extremely beneficial for the garden, but have you ever tried it yourself? "Mulching is a fantastic way to protect plants from slugs, especially if you create a sharp mulch barrier around plants," says Shannen.
"Sharp grit, ash and bark can help to ringfence your plants, and most slugs will not cross over the barrier. Wood pellets, cat litter and coffee grounds are other mulch materials you can try. However, remember that while this can prevent slugs on the surface, slugs bury underground so it won't eliminate the risk entirely."
4. Turn your soil now
A brilliant way to reduce slug populations in your garden is to turn over your soil. Easy for everyone to try, this will expose slug eggs buried in the ground and disturb them, reducing the number of slugs in your garden.
5. Grow slug-resistant plants
Aromatic plants, such as roses, ferns, grasses and hydrangeas, can naturally deter slugs thanks to their strong scent and textured leaves (particularly those that are fuzzy, glossy or leathery). Slugs can ruin your beautiful borders overnight, so choosing these slug-resistant plants could help keep the pests at bay.
Shannen continues: "With slugs offering a benefit to the wider ecosystem and the fact that slug pellets can endanger other helpful garden critters, winter is a great time to plan how you'll manage slugs come spring.
"Whether it's creating a slug-free zone and accepting slugs in other areas of the garden or focusing on planting slug-resistant plants to deter the pests, there are lots of things to consider now, before slugs take hold in spring."
6. Create a slug-free zone
Garden slug damage can happen before you even know there is an infestation. If you're wanting to keep the pesky creatures away, Shannen recommends creating a slug-free zone using eggshells (they don't like the feeling), garlic (the smell will put them off), and salt.
"It is almost impossible to completely eradicate slugs from your garden, but you can create a slug-free zone," Shannen says." If you have a patio or gravel area in the garden, this can be a great place to establish your plants in pots until they're hardy enough for other areas of your garden."
7. Allow natural predators to thrive
Encourage slug-hungry predators to thrive in your garden, including birds, frogs, hedgehogs, ground beetles and fireflies. Why not install a garden pond or birdbath for feathered friends paying a visit. Chances are, they'll also deal with your slug infestation.
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