How To Keep Snails Away From Plants (16 Methods)

Snails are among the most destructive garden pests, thanks to their voracious appetites. Their sharp, microscopic teeth and strong, flexible jaws can devour leaves within minutes. Unfortunately, getting rid of them can be tricky because of the protective shells covering their bodies.

Keeping your garden decluttered and free from potential hiding places is the best way to keep snails out of your garden. Since snails require shelter from the sun during the day and generally prefer damp environments, making the garden uninhabitable for them will significantly trim their population.

We will talk about different ways of getting rid of snails, including traps, organic sprays, and barriers. We will also discuss some ways of quickly eliminating them, tactics that might seem brutal yet are sometimes necessary, especially if the snail infestation is getting out of hand. Let’s start!

1. Keep Your Garden Neat and Clutter-Free

Snails are most active at night and on humid, cloudy days. They spend most of their time feeding on seedlings, vegetables, and leaves. In the daytime, they seek shelter from the sun’s heat by resting in cool, shaded areas. 

You can reduce your snail population by removing anything that might provide shelter for them in your garden. Get rid of clutter and unnecessary items in your yard. They will not stay if they feel vulnerable and unsafe.

Here are some items around your garden that you might want to consider disposing of to help keep snails away from your plants:

  • Large rocks on the ground
  • Unused wooden boards.
  • Fallen tree trunks and branches.
  • Low-hanging branches, almost touching the ground.
  • Weeds.
  • Dense ground cover like ivy and tradescantias.

2. Build a Trap Made of Pawpaw Leaves and Cassava Peels

Snails find food sources with their sense of smell. They particularly love vegetables with distinct scents, such as cabbages and beans. So, what better way to take advantage of this unique characteristic than by utilizing these smells to round them up.

Consequently, you can eliminate snails from your garden with the help of pawpaw leaves and cassava peels. These usually head straight to the trash bin anyway, so this is a great way to put them to good use. Snails will be attracted to their unique scent and will want to investigate and perhaps have a taste. 

This is how to build a snail trap made of pawpaw leaves and cassava peels:

  1. Mix some pawpaw leaves and cassava peels. Wait for the sun to set because this is when snails start coming out from hiding to feed.
  2. Build football-sized piles of the pawpaw leaves and cassava peels mixture near your vegetable plants. Place them about 5 meters (5.46 yards) apart for best results. Make sure the piles are at least 1 meter (1.09 yards) away from the vegetable plants you want to protect from snails.
  3. Leave the traps overnight. Snails will find it hard to resist these sumptuous food piles and by morning you’ll find many gathered.

Early the following day, check the traps, and you’ll surely find snails gathered underneath the pawpaw leaves and cassava peels. They’ve fed themselves throughout the night and are now resting, trying to keep away from the sun’s rays. 

This would be the perfect time to handpick the snails. Drop them into a pail filled with soapy water. Snails’ soft bodies are sensitive to soap, so that you can eliminate them almost upon contact. Dispose of the snails and the soapy water properly, ideally away from your garden, since snails may carry harmful viruses and bacteria. 

3. Set Up a Beer Trap

Slimy, pesky snails can eat more than their own body weight of the various plants available in your garden. They eat using a flexible, ribbon-like band in their mouths called a radula. It is lined with thousands of microscopic teeth that scrape up their food and rip it into tiny pieces for them to ingest. 

Snails are omnivorous, which means they can eat plants and other animals. They are not picky eaters at all!

No wonder they’re attracted to practically anything that might seem edible to them. For instance, snails are particularly attracted to the smell of yeast in beer. It’s almost impossible for them to resist the aroma and they will always want to investigate the source of the scent. 

This is how to make a beer trap for snails:

  1. Fill a container with beer, almost right up to the rim. 
  2. Dig a hole in the soil. 
  3. Bury the beer-filled container inside the hole, making sure that the rim is level with the ground. 
  4. Wait for the snails to arrive.

It is best to set out this trap at dusk when the sun is beginning to set and the snails are getting ready for another night out in your yard. As soon as they get a whiff of the beer, their curiosity and ravenous appetite will get the better of them. 

When they finally find the beer buried in the ground, they will want to go in for a sip. Snails will most probably slip and fall into the beer and drown. 

The next morning, fish out the dead snails from the container of beer. Make sure to wear gloves since snails may be carriers of various diseases. Dispose of the dead snails by placing them in a sealed bag and throwing them into the trash can. Do not simply throw them on the ground because dead snails could contaminate the soil, making it unsuitable for your plants. 

4. Use Inverted Fruit Rinds As Snail Traps

Snails love feasting on fruits. Why not give fruit rinds a new lease on life by turning them into snail traps? You can use almost any type of fruit rind – melons, oranges, or watermelons. Simply turn them over and scatter them in strategic locations in your garden, particularly where you notice lots of snail activity.

Snails will be attracted to the smell and the promise of a sumptuous meal. When they come out of hiding at night to feed, they will head straight for these delicious contraptions to satisfy their appetites. In the morning, all you have to do is collect the snails hiding underneath the rinds and dispose of them as you please. 

5. Set Board Baits

Simply placing a wide board on the ground in your garden will be an effective way to trap snails and get rid of them. Any old, unused board will do. Prop up the corners with small rocks, so there is enough clearance underneath for snails to crawl under. 

Set your board bait when the snails are out and about feeding on leaves at night. In the morning, flip the board over, and you will find snails on the ground or attached to the board, enjoying a bit of shelter from sunlight and heat. Pluck them off and dispose of them as you wish

6. Spray Peppermint Oil on Your Plants

Peppermint oil deters snails from plants. The pungent smell is too much for snails to bear, especially since they have a highly sensitive sense of smell. You can spray peppermint oil all over your plants. It is safe to use and won’t harm your plants or the soil. 

This is how to make peppermint oil spray to keep snails away:

  1. Fill a spray bottle with 250 ml (8.45 oz) of water.
  2. Add 1 tablespoon (or about 10-15 drops) of pure peppermint oil.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Spray all over your plants and the perimeter of the area you want to protect from snails.
  5. Repeat at least once a week until you no longer see snails in the area.

7. Sprinkle Crushed Egg Shells Around Your Plants

Snails are soft-bodied animals that slither around your garden using the muscular undersides of their bodies. They are protected by a hard shell that wraps over and around their fragile bodies. They continuously release mucus as they move about, leaving behind a trail of silvery slime wherever they go. 

However since their undersides are virtually unprotected, snails stay away from sharp objects on the ground. So, you can keep them away from your plants by sprinkling the ground with things that may damage their soft underbellies, such as crushed egg shells

Most snails will not attempt to cross over this prickly barrier. For the ones that do, they’re most likely to get injured while crossing making them easy pickings for you.

8. Scatter Corn Bran or Wheat Bran Around Your Plants

There’s more to bran than meets the eye. Most wouldn’t have guessed that this unassuming household item can be a potent snail killer. Wheat bran and corn bran are desiccants. This means that they are drying agents capable of dehydrating and killing small animals and insects, including snails. 

Scatter bran around your plants, especially those that snails seem to be snacking on all the time. Once snails start to feed on bran alongside your plants, you will notice them slowly start to dry up and eventually die. 

The best thing about this method is it’s completely straightforward and safe for humans, pets, and plants. 

9. Wrap Copper Tape Around Your Potted Plants

Snails refuse to go near copper because a chemical reaction is triggered when they touch it, causing unpleasant, painful sensations in their bodies. By wrapping your potted plants in a layer of self-adhesive copper tape, you can keep snails from climbing into the pots and devouring your plants’ leaves and stems. Some people also use copper coins for this exact purpose. They scatter coins around their plants to keep pesky snails away. 

Here are more tips on how you can use copper to keep snails away from your plants:

  • Make sure the self-adhesive copper tape you use is wide enough so that snails won’t be able to stretch over them to get to your plants. The tape should be at least 2 inches (50.8 mm) wide. 
  • Self-adhesive copper tapes can also be used to protect plants in the garden. Place cardboard rings around your plants and stick the copper tape on the outside to keep snails away. 
  • You can also use copper mesh wires to build barriers around plants frequented by snails. Ensure that the copper fences are firmly secured to the ground, so they don’t topple over with the weight of attacking snails. 

10. Create a Diatomaceous Earth (DE) Barrier For Your Plants

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is an effective tool in keeping snails and other pests away without causing any harm to your plants or your garden. It comes in a ready-to-use powder form and is mainly made up of silica, a natural substance known for absorbing moisture, providing protection from dampness, and keeping things generally dry. 

Sprinkle DE around the base of the plants you want to protect from snails. It is best applied when the soil is dry because water quickly washes it away. Water your plants in the morning and apply DE at dusk, just in time for when snails start coming out to look for food. 

The rough consistency of DE will deter snails from trying to slither their way toward your plants. The few headstrong snails that will attempt to do so will begin to dehydrate upon contact and die within minutes. DE is safe to reapply as often as needed. Remember to reapply Diatomaceous Earth after each heavy rainfall or after each time you water your plants to ensure that the substance can protect your plants from snails and other pests. 

11. Adorn Your Plants With Lava Rocks

Lava rocks can serve a dual purpose in your garden. First, they will provide pops of color and subtle contrasts to the monotony of greens and browns in your garden. 

However, they can also keep snails away from your plants because of their rough texture. Build a barrier around your plants using lava rocks. Make sure they are scattered in groups above the soil level to make it almost impossible for snails to climb over. 

12. Surround Your Garden With Snail Repellent Plants

You can keep snails from eating your plants by dotting your garden with plants that repel these pesky, slimy creatures. Snails rely heavily on their sense of smell to find food. They are easily repelled by pungent scents that irritate their highly sensitive olfactory senses.

Here are some of the plants that release strong odors and are effective in repelling snails:

  • Garlic
  • Onions
  • Chives
  • Lawn Chamomile
  • Sage
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Lantana
  • Hydrangea 
  • Nasturtium
  • California poppy

13. Grow Trap Plants in Your Garden

Snails love juicy, succulent plants. They are naturally drawn to these plants, and you might expect regular snail infestations if your garden is filled with their favorites. Snails may be notorious for being slow movers, but they can patiently scale plant stems and tree trunks if they will be rewarded with a filling and delicious meal in the end. 

Trick snails into believing they get free meals every day by using some of their favorites as trap plants. Wait for them to get comfortable with devouring these plants, then you may go ahead and pluck them off to your heart’s content. Wear gloves so your skin does not get contaminated with any possible bacteria or viruses that snails might be carrying. 

Here are some of the plants highly favored by snails:

  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Bokchoy
  • Basil
  • Peas
  • Strawberries
  • Marigolds
  • Dahlia
  • Hostas
  • Seedlings
  • Tomatoes
  • Strawberries

14. Adopt Snail Predators as Pets

Snails, being small, unaggressive, and unthreatening, have quite a number of natural enemies. They are preyed on by larger animals and sometimes, even by smaller, more aggressive insects. You can keep snails away from your plants by adopting some of their natural enemies as garden pets. The domineering presence of these predators will surely keep snails and other pests away from your garden.

Here are some snail predators you might want to adopt as pets:

  • Ducks
  • Chickens
  • Geese
  • Birds
  • Frogs
  • Toads
  • Turtles
  • Snakes

That said, it’s important to ensure that your “pet” isn’t going to go after your plants either.

15. Protect Your Plants With Nettings

Nettings are always reliable when it comes to protecting plants from pests, including snails. They provide a physical barrier through which pests cannot penetrate. Ensure your nettings are strong enough to withstand little bites or aggressive actions from persistent snails. Secure your nettings firmly to the ground with landscape staples, so they don’t get easily blown away by strong winds or rain.

16. Sprinkle Salt on Snails To Get Rid of Them for Good

If all else fails and there are still a few stray snails here and there in your garden, you can turn to some good old salt for help. It is recommended as a last resort because salt is not good for plants. It also disrupts the balance of nutrients and the acidity of the soil. 

Sprinkle just a little bit of salt directly over the slimy critters. It won’t be a pretty sight because they’ll writhe in pain as soon as the salt comes into contact with their skin. You could also pluck the snails from your plants and place them in a basin for salting. This way, they’ll be easier to dispose of, and your plants won’t be harmed. 

If you would like to explore why your garden has so many snails, check out my other article: 14 Reasons Why Your Garden Has So Many Snails

Key Takeaways

Snails always spell bad news for gardens because they are extremely destructive. They leave uneven, ugly holes in leaves, yet they can also completely defoliate your plants. 

Get rid of them as soon as possible before they wreak havoc in your garden. There are different ways to keep them away from your plants, but it takes a lot of patience and consistency. Employ different tactics always to keep your garden pest-free. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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