How to get rid of slugs? This is a question all gardeners must ask themselves at some time or another. Slugs rank amongst the most frustrating and destructive of all garden pests and if there is a lot of rain, slugs are particularly prolific.  Slugs are a particular threat to young and low-growing plants as they tend to stay near to the soil surface.  However their partners in crime, the snails, are good climbers and they can do serious damage to fully grown plants.

Slugs tend to do most of their harm at night, creating irregular holes with smooth edges in the leaves and stems of a massive variety of plants.  They love seedlings, delphiniums, hostas, lupins, succulent stems and young plant bark and they will simply adore your vegetable patch!

Did you know there are 29 species of slugs in the UK and you are likely to have approximately 20 – 30 slugs per square metre of garden?  Each slug consumes twice its own body weight every day, so a slug weighing 0.1 oz would, over a period of four months, eat an astonishing 1.75lbs of your precious garden plants all by itself!

Amazingly a slug has approximately 27,000 teeth so is rather effective at nibbling.  Slugs are also healthy breeders.  Each slug could produce 90,000 grandchildren! Some slugs are hermaphrodite, so just one slug could start an infestation.  While it has to said these are quite disturbing statistics – but do not panic, it is quite possible to control a slug invasion with a cunning strategy.

Slug pellets are probably the most commonly used method to eliminate slugs from the garden.  In fact British gardeners sprinkle 400 billion slug pellets each year.  Nevertheless, there have been some concerns that the tiny amount of metaldehyde within the pellets could cause harm to birds that eat slugs.  They are coloured blue to further deter birds from eating them.  Research has not substantiated this fear, but if you use slug pellets please ensure that you follow the instructions carefully.  Slug pellets need to be applied regularly as they disintegrate when wet.

Here are a number of useful tips to discourage slugs:

Sow seeds in pots and grow plants on until they are well established to prevent slugs from destroying emerging seedlings.

Plant herbaceous plants in early spring so that they are well established before slugs are at their most destructive.

Keep your garden tidy so that slugs are not attracted by potential hideaways such as under stones, pots and piles of decaying plant matter.

Cut sections at least 10cm tall from plastic bottles and place these over young plants and shoots until tougher foliage emerges.

Encourage plenty of wildlife into your garden.  Frogs, birds, beetles and hedgehogs all eat slugs or slug eggs.

Surround plants with anything rough or sharp, such as broken eggshell or sand.  Although this will not prevent slugs from approaching your plants it will make their journey harder and more precarious.

Fill up a number of containers with beer and place these in the ground around your garden.  Slugs love a tipple and conveniently topple in.

If you are very brave (and perhaps just a little hard-hearted!) you could patrol your garden at night with a torch and collect the slugs in a container and destroy them in boiling water.

If you are very squeamish and have a real slug phobia, then only grow plants that slugs hate!  These include Lavender, Mullein, Rock Rose and Lamb’s Ear.  Also concentrate on planting in containers and isolated tubs, this makes it harder for  pest that finds it easier to move across the ground rather than climb for its dinner.