Snails are one of the most commonly occurring species in your lawn and vegetable plot. They feed on living as well as dead and decayed plant material in your growing garden. So, should you completely clear your garden of them? The answer is not as simple as yes or no! Basically, it depends on their infestation level and the damage they have caused to your growing plants. If they are just a few in numbers wandering around your garden and on some of your garden plants, then you don’t need to be bothered about them. However, if you observe an increase in their population, something needs fixing.
Are there any Benefits to snails in your garden? Snails feed on living and dead plant material, contributing to the natural decay. Some Snail Species also feed on the eggs of other pests, reducing the number of other harmful bugs. Furthermore, Snails can add to our garden’s appeal with their beautiful little houses.
Some Real Benefits of Snails in Your Garden
They eat fallen and rotten leaves and also help in decomposing dead plant matter, thus, fertilizing the garden soil—which is the exact reason why we need them in our gardens’ ecosystem. They also feed on the dung of other animals, and sometimes they consume the eggs of other snails and slugs.
If we talk about the shelled snails, although they don’t help much with gardening, they also don’t cause much damage. They may munch a few leaves here or there, but that’s all they do. When it comes to eating, snails themselves are a great source of food for many living species that live in gardens, such as birds, small mammals, earthworms, or some insects, and that itself is a reason to let them live in our gardens.
Another great benefit of letting snails live in the garden is that they add to our garden’s beauty and appeal; their small circular shells are a treat to watch. A flowering bed may look attractive, but with a pretty little snail sitting on it, it’s beauty gets multiplied! Along with making your garden look beautiful, snails help build a healthy ecosystem by stirring up gravel and eating rotting material.
The Disturbed Ecosystem
The heavy infestation of snails shows that the ecosystem of the garden is losing its balance. It happens when we intervene too much and don’t allow Mother Nature to have a space to do its work. Most gardeners try to keep their garden cleaner enough to look like something done with a vacuum cleaner. When your yard or garden looks this neat, it becomes difficult for other fauna (insects, birds, and small mammals) to find a safe home to live. This imbalance increases the population of some species if left unchecked. Hence, to avoid garden problems, maintain a balanced ecosystem in your yard, through which you can enjoy the sound and sight of various wildlife co-existing while creating a relaxed environment.
Where do Garden Snails live
The snails present in your garden are nocturnal, although you may see them in the day after the rain. You can generally find them at nights under rotten leaves heap, wood barks, and sticks stacked in the same place through the winter. You can also spot them in cracks, clefts, and other fixtures present in your garden. They also hide under the stones and pots on the wet soil of your garden. During rainy days, you can easily see them moving and munching over your growing plants. In the winter season, they hibernate due to extreme temperature and, it is hard to find them.
What Attracts Snails in Your Garden
- Damp and Mushy Soil
Snails love to live in wet soils because they are highly susceptible to dehydration. The damp and soggy soil provides a favorable environment for snails to retain their body moisture. So, if your garden soil stays wet, then they get attracted to it. Monitor how often you water your garden and lower the watering frequency if your garden soil remains too damp throughout the day. Usually, this happens when your garden soil is compact or heavy and doesn’t drain freely.
- Lime-Rich Soils
If your soil is rich in lime, then snails naturally get attracted by it because of the calcium carbonate. The acidic soils don’t provide them the calcium they need for making their shells.
- Dense Foliage Plants
Snails and slugs love the plants having fleshy foliage, and the stem is the favorite food for snails. That’s why they hang around plants having dense foliage like lettuce, spinach, and marigold. But it doesn’t mean that you stop growing these plants in your garden. Follow a holistic approach to manage it. Go for the companion planting method. Grow snail- repelling highly scented plants (lavender and rosemary) next to the snail-loving plants such as lettuce, marigolds, strawberries, cabbage, and dahlia.
- Climbing Plants
The climbing plants growing in your garden are another source of attraction for the snails. They endure the hot spell of summer by climbing these plants. The temperature even a few meters above the ground is several degree coolers compared to the ground level. If they are deprived of climbing plants, they succumb to heat more rapidly.
- Wood chunks and gravels
Along with wet soil, wood chunks and gravels present in your garden may also attract snails as they make a perfect shelter for them. Take a round of your yard and clean up any debris where snails can congregate. Though dead leaves make your garden fertile, they also provide the best cover for garden pests. So, if you encounter the major snail infestation, rake up your garden, clear the dead leaves and get rid of them.
- Unkempt lawn and yard
Your unkempt lawn also serves as a hiding space for snails. So, mow your lawn regularly to keep the lawn grass short. Moreover, clear out wild-growing shrubs and bushes or any unwanted vegetation present in your garden to control their population
Some Natural Ways to control your Snail population
- Hand Picking
This method requires no special trick or tools to remove snails from your garden. Removing snails by hand from your growing plants and garden is an-effective approach if you practice it diligently. However, it does take time, may not be a permanent solution, and requires that you don’t have a problem touching this slimy beast. If you are OK to touch them and have plenty of time and patience, then go for this method. Inspect your garden and pick them off wherever you find them. Dispose of them by moving them more than 30metres away from your garden. This way, you can overcome their natural homing instinct.
- Attract Birds to Your Garden
Birds love to eat your garden snails. Invite them, and they will gladly help you remove the snails that are intruding in your garden. In this method, you encourage nature to do its task – rather than adding chemicals into your organic garden or giving them a slower death by drowning in the toxic substances.
- Copper wire
In this physical method of controlling snail’s infestation in your garden, a copper wire is used as a barrier. Attach it around your plant pots or thick plant stem. When snails come in contact with the copper wire, it slows down their slime production, which stops them from moving forward. This method doesn’t kill them; it just prevents them from climbing on the growing plants and containers. This approach is more effective if you own a small garden.
- Set up a trap
You can also set another type of trap to attract snails to a specific place in your garden where you can collect them later and move or kill them away. Make holes in the sides of a pie tin and put it in the ground upside-down. Add some lime, orange, lemon, or grapefruit peels inside it in the evening. The snails will enter the pan for the tasty treat in the night and get trapped. Collect these slimy pests in the morning and move them.
- Beer Traps
Building a killing trap might be necessary, if your garden is literally drowning in snails. Building this type of trap should be a last-ditch effort, as it doesn’t really fix the issue. Fill up a pan with musty beer and put it in the garden for a night. The smell of beer will lure the snails into climbing the pan. Make sure the pan is filled with beer so that they will not be able to come out and drown in it. After 2-3 days, replace the beer in the pan. It’s necessary to burry these traps at ground level so that snails can easily climb on it.
By creating a nature-friendly garden, you can save your precious time, money, and energy by not using hazardous chemical pesticides. In this way, you can maintain a balanced natural system to keep the environment functioning correctly. As you can see, there are many methods to control snails in your garden; you can use a combination of methods for more effective results. Depending on your ease and other factors, you can pick any method that suits you best.