How to Control Slugs and Snails in Outdoor Landscapes

Slugs and snails are landscape and greenhouse pests that are not deterred by containers. They can find their way to any young tender plant and do plenty of damage. Here are a few tips for managing slugs and snails:

Multiply Fast

First, it is important to remember that slugs and snails reproduce quickly and asexually (meaning you only need one to reproduce). If you don’t remove the intruders, you are likely to have a problem that will get out of hand.

Damp and Shady


Slugs and garden snails love environments that are wet and shady. Try not to leave too much debris around your containers that could make desirable hiding places for slugs and snails. Alternatively, if you know you have a problem, set out an overturned piece of pottery with a hole in it to lure in the slugs. Check it each morning before it gets hot and remove the slugs and snails.

Beer Traps

Beer also works as bait for slugs and snails. They are attracted to the yeast. Place a container with a few inches of beer in it in or near your planters. If possible, bury the container within a planter so the lip is level with the top of the potting mix. If there is not enough space in containers for this, you can make a small ramp from the planter to the container making it easy for the slugs to climb in. Remove the beer and refresh it every night until the problem is resolved.

Hand Removal

One of the best ways to remove slugs and snails is to hand pick them. They are active at night, so take a flashlight and some gloves after dark and inspect your plants.


To prevent snails and slugs from entering your container you can place a ring of copper flashing around the rim. The copper reacts with the acidic slime on the slug’s and snail’s bodies causing a sort of electric shock. This shock will not kill these pests, but they will not cross the copper.

You can also use sharp materials to deter slugs and snails. Material such as coarse sand, diatomaceous earth, and crushed eggshells can be placed around plants. These will prevent the slugs and snails from getting to the plants. Some of these materials may need to be replenished after rains or frequent watering.

Chemical Traps

There are also chemical traps available, but these can be dangerous for pets and humans. You do not need to be as physically present with these traps as you do with the other methods. Occasionally chemical traps are the only realistic solution for landscapers with numerous clients and more than one slug and snail problem.

Your Tips and Tricks

Slugs and snails are a nuisance, but they can be removed before they cause too much damage. Don’t let these pests ruin your summer outdoor container arrangements.

How do you deal with these pests in your containers?  



“How to: Control Slugs and snails” The National Garden Association <>
“Pests: Garden slugs and snails” Balcony Container Gardening <>
Image: “Tiny Snail” by Patty O’Hearn Kickham via
Featured Image by Craig ONeal via

Melanie is a plant enthusiast and expert contributor at and Melanie's experience in internet marketing, business management, and horticulture allows her to bring a unique perspective to the community. Melanie received a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and is the Marketing Director at NewPro Containers.

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