Snail Away

, 17 May 2014

garden snail / Lonnie Morris garden snail / Lonnie Morris
Author Amanda Solomon

Press Officer

Snails – love them or loathe them - they have been living on our planet for the past 500 million years and their ancestors are one of the earliest known types of animal in the world. I think they are here to stay.

I don’t have a garden but my parents do and I know snails can wreak havoc with lovingly prepared vegetables plots or flower borders.

However, although it was tongue in cheek, I was quite disturbed to hear a Sky TV news report about how to rid your garden of them and one wag on the sofa suggested using a tennis racket to ‘bat’ them the necessary 65 yards to prevent them from returning to their chosen location.

To be fair, the author of the original report, which sparked the sofa discussion on the ‘homing’ instincts of these molluscs, did not advise taking violent action or indeed snailocide. He suggested we find a way to live in harmony.

So, I asked Jess Price Conservation Officer at Sussex Wildlife Trust how to prevent snail damage to plants and veg in the garden.

The points below are well worth trying.

  • Create barriers of sharp grit, crushed egg shells, pine needles, coffee, ash or soot around your plants

  • Water in the early morning rather than evening

  • Plant a barrier of resistant plants such as onions, chives, lavender, sage, rosemary, thyme, saxifrage, ice plant, lamb’s lettuce, foxgloves, most daisies, hollyhocks, azaleas and hardy geraniums

  • Add a ring of copper around flowerpot tops

Jess is not suggesting these are ‘magic’ cures but let’s try and treat these creatures with a little more compassion, after all – who wants to hurt snails. I remember Brian from The Magic Roundabout who was an endless source of childhood delight!