By Jenny Harrington Updated August 21, 2019
Snails can quickly decimate your garden bed, chewing seedlings down to the ground and leaving large, ragged holes in more mature plants. When you understand the conditions that attract snails to your yard, you can make your garden less attractive to the mollusks. Snails are the greatest threat in areas with damp, warm weather, and places that experience frequent fog and moisture.
Weeds, piles of dead plants and even compost piles provide attractive nesting sites for snails. Pulling weeds, especially those with tender foliage, from around the garden bed and removing all dead plant material from the garden promptly makes your garden less attractive to snails. When weeding, don’t leave piles of dead weeds lying between beds, because snails may nest in the moist, decaying plants. Locate your compost pile as far from the garden as possible.
Snails are drawn to areas that remain cool and damp, such as under boards and planters, or in water meter boxes. Remove such items or store them away from garden areas when possible. If you can’t relocate such an item, place slug and snail traps or sprinkle snail poison granules in the hiding place. The granules require replacement weekly or after heavy rain. If your yard has few places that attract snails, you can collect the creatures by hand and destroy them daily until their population diminishes.
Damp, cool conditions will attract snails. Unfortunately, most gardens require a moist environment to thrive, which makes them an attractive feeding ground for these pests. To minimize excess moisture, use a drip irrigation system instead of overhead watering so plant foliage stays dry. Drip irrigation also prevents water from collecting under pavers and in other areas that could provide a nesting spot for snails. Mulch traps moisture, so you may need to temporarily remove such organic material from a bed if it’s badly infested with snails.
Some plants are more appetizing than others. Snails generally feed on tender, succulent foliage. Starting seedlings indoors and transplanting out nearly mature plants makes them less prone to snail damage. Plants with highly aromatic foliage or those with stiff leaves are also less likely to attract snails. If you grow herbs, vegetables or ornamentals with tender leaves, use snail traps or poison granules around the plants to protect them. [external_footer]