If you are a gardener or planning to be one, you have to know that there will be a constant battle between you and other living organisms that will eat through your plants and vegetables. This is one of the many reasons why some gardens do not look as attractive as they should.
Are snails good for your garden? NO! They are not! Common Brown snails and slugs feed on your plants and vegetables. Decollate snails feed on Brown snails and slugs and produce nitrogen and nutrient-rich faeces – nourishing for the soil but not worth the wait. Keep all snails out of your garden.
Advantages of Snails in the Garden
On the bright side, snails and slugs are not all bad. The familiar tale about snails and slugs is that they are indicators of weather. Sometimes, gardeners take advantage of this and use it for their benefit.
- When black snails cross your path, it is supposed to be an indication that rain is coming.
- If you see a snail climbing a tree, it’s said to be a sign of hot weather.
- When slugs are burrowing deep in the ground during summer, it’s said to indicate drought.
- If slugs burrow deep in the ground during autumn, it’s supposed to be a sign that winter is already near.
Although all these things are myths – perhaps; you can still see for yourself if such things are true.
Don’t Let Your Guard Down – Take no Chances!
However, don’t let your guard down because the protection of your garden holds more importance.
Aside from being a weather indicator and whatnot, snails and slugs have a tiny contribution to your garden as well.
The faeces they leave behind will be converted to an active and rich nitrogen-based fertilizer which is excellent for plants and vegetables.
Don’t Put Your Plants at Risk on a Whim
Unfortunately, that only happens after they have eaten some of your plants and vegetables in your garden.
Unless you want to gamble on getting their payback to nurture your plants and vegetables, you’d better keep them away from your garden.
They might have eaten a lot more of your plants than the small number of faeces they produce to fertilize your remaining plants and vegetables!
Disadvantages of Snails in the Garden
Snails and slugs don’t cause too much of a problem on the ground. It’s when they climb into your vegetables and plants that you should start to worry.
They will begin from the top down to the bottom, eating everything they like in their path.
Snails and Slugs Climb Trees Effortlessly and Strip their Bark
Snails and slugs are good climbers, and they can climb shrubs and trees effortlessly.
They will then eat the flowering buds until nothing is left. Aside from flowering buds, snails and slugs love to devour ripe fruits, and they will find them if they’re in your garden.
Furthermore, snails and slugs can also strip the bark of younger trees, and the opening will invite infection leading to the death of such trees.
They will climb to the top and eat new leaves. If you can see irregular holes in the leaves, it is probably a sign that they’ve eaten through it.
More interestingly, snails and slugs don’t just cause damage at the top, for they can do some damage underneath your garden as well.
Slugs Can Also Go Underground and Damage Roots
The Keel Slug is the notorious slug that buries itself underground and eats through the roots of your plants and vegetables.
Hence, don’t be surprised if your healthy and adorable plant or vegetable die instantly because Keel Slugs might be crawling beneath them.
You have to be aware of Keel Slugs because they are much destructive than ordinary snails and slugs.
Not only will they feed on roots, but they will also devour the bulbs.
Seedlings of all types, including grass seedlings in your lawn, will be eaten once they start to sprout.
Also, the trail of the slime that Keel Slugs left behind will attract other snails and slugs. You will be surprised the following day when you see your garden infested by snails and slugs.
Get To Know More about Snails and Slugs
Snails and slugs are land molluscs, but you can easily spot the difference between them because snails have shells into which they can retreat.
Slugs don’t have shells on their backs. Yet both still look similar in terms of their heads and little horns, and they are both slimy.
Meet the Enemy
Moreover, snails have different varieties, and they are often mentioned by their Latin names.
- First, Cornu Aspersum or most commonly known as common garden snails, and is what you typically see in most gardens, including yours.
- Second, Decollate snails—a predatory land snail that originated from Europe which can grow up to medium-sized big.
- Lastly, Helix Aspersa, also known as European Brown Garden Snails and they are also common around the world.
They Have Hundreds of Teeth Beneath Them
You may not notice it, but snails and slugs have hundreds of teeth hiding beneath them. This is why they can chomp off your plants and vegetables like a machine.
When conditions are perfect, snails and slugs will pay a visit to your garden and feast on your plants and vegetable without you knowing it.
From here, you already have a clear answer that snails are harmful to your garden. Luckily, this article will help you anticipate the onslaught of snails and slugs and how to control them.
Are Snails Good for the Lawn?
Since we discuss the impact of snails and slugs in a garden, we might also talk about their effects on lawns.
The most common snails found in the garden are brown snails, and they love eating garden debris like dead leaves and flowers.
Brown snails may help keep your lawn clean by eating dead materials.
Don’t Be Fooled
Decollate snails leave their nitrogen-rich faeces behind, beneficial for the soil because it adds nutrients to help grow healthy and vibrant grass and plants.
However, their faeces don’t make that much of an impact on either lawns or gardens.
So even though it seems like snails are a good source of organic fertilizer for your lawn, it is probably best to keep them away from your lawn and garden to make everything safe.
How To Manage Snails in the Garden?
An essential fact about snails and slugs is that they are inactive during the day and super active during the night.
This is where you should capitalize on deterring snails and slugs from infecting your garden. Here are some things you can do to manage them:
- Do Not Mulch During Spring
Both snails and slugs love to feast on sticks, mulch, and dead plants. If you mulch in spring, it will attract them, and they’ll gather all over your garden.
It is best to leave it until summer because this is when most of their activities stop.
- Create A Place Where They Can Stay
Some experienced gardeners create a place that attracts snails and slugs to keep them away from the garden.
You can put some wooden boards, upside-down pots, and bits of lumber. Arrange them any way you like, and this will keep your garden safe from snails and slugs.
- Create A Buffer Area In Your Garden Perimeter
You can keep a buffer area to keep snails and slugs from entering your garden. Keep it dry, and you don’t necessarily have to put up a barrier because snails and slugs can still climb them.
Keeping the buffer area dry is enough.
- Gritty Pathways
Both snails and slugs are crawlers, and they don’t want to crawl over gritty areas. The purpose of their slime is to lubricate their way so they can glide through their path.
Sprinkling some crushed eggshells or a particular type of powdery substance named diatomaceous earth (you can buy it in a container) around your plant is enough to keep the snails and slugs away.
- Use A Copper Tape
An alternative to eggshells and diatomaceous earth is to use copper tape. You can use copper tapes in both raised gardens and pot plants.
The copper tape will oxidize and release salts – this is one of the best ways to counter snails and slugs.
- Use Snail Killers
You can opt for snail killers if the previous methods don’t work for you. The downside of making gritty pathways is that you have to re-apply after the substance has been washed away.
Using a snail killer that contains iron phosphate is effective and safe, especially when kids are around.
- Put Snail Predators
If you like to go the extra mile for this, you can ask for help from predators that love to feast on snails and slugs.
Some predators include small garter snakes, hedgehogs, moles, toads, and frogs. It all depends on what predator you decide you need to help you in this matter.
- Remove Them Manually
If snails and slugs rarely attack your garden, you can manage them with your hands and a pair of gloves.
Remove the offending creatures and put them in a bucket with soap to kill them before disposing of them. Eliminate slime tracks as well to prevent attracting snails and slugs.
You can use a stick to remove them if you’d rather not touch them. You can also use gloves when picking them up; that way, you don’t feel their slime over your hands.
- Use Decollate snails
The other alternative and perhaps the brutal one to control snails in your garden is decollating snails. Decollate snails are insatiable slayers and eaters of common garden snails, slugs and their eggs. This intrepid snail slayer, unfortunately, also eats plants.
Can we write off the harm it does to your plants when measured against its advantage of destroying the garden snails and slugs and other such pests that devour your plants?
Also Kills the Innocents
Sadly, this snail and slug eater will also kill and consume innocent gastropods and annelids (earthworms, caterpillars and such) that are useful to your garden.
Decollate snails are tolerant of dry and cold conditions, during which they burrow deep into the soil. They are most active during the night and rainfall.
Feeding on brown snails, slugs and your plants, the Decollate snails effectively control them in your garden.
However, Decollate snails don’t guarantee to eradicate all the brown snails in your garden. Hence you have to use a supplemental method.
The best part of using Decollate snails is they excrete nitrogen and nutrients into the soil. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone.
Not only do they eat brown snails, but Decollate snails also love to feast on slugs. Therefore, so you don’t have to worry if your garden has both brown snails and slugs.
Decollate slugs are much smaller than brown snails, but they are ferocious!
Are They Harmful to Humans?
Not all snails are carriers of diseases, but it can host some harmful conditions to humans.
They Carry Harmful Diseases for Humans
Some of the harmful diseases they carry are, angiostrongyliasis, clonorchiasis, fascioliasis, fasciolopsiasis, opisthorchiasis, paragonimiasis, and schistosomiasis.
Please note that these diseases are incredibly harmful to humans, so don’t take snails lightly.
There is no need to panic because only a tiny portion of snails carry such harmful diseases, and they are primarily located in sub-tropical countries.
However, it doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. You can be at risk anytime.
Always Wear the Right Gardening Gloves
As a standard gardening protocol, always wear proper gardening gloves – which are thick and will give you the appropriate protection when handling snails.
We already know that pests and insects can cause severe damage to a garden. However, there are many other ‘predators’ that can cause serious havoc.
A close relative to slugs, snails are adept at causing untold damage every time they visit your garden.
Snails Are Heavy Plant Eaters
Snails are heavy plant-eaters, and they can grind your plants and vegetables down to their knees if left unattended. Seeing your plants or vegetables die from a snail or slug attack is a painful experience for a gardener.
What puzzles the gardeners is that snails are far different from common pests and insects that eat through the garden. They might eat a plant or more but do they give payback for it.
What’s the Answer?
What’s the answer – are snails beneficial to your garden, or are they similar to pests and insects taking advantage of your plants and vegetables?
Snails can be good and bad for your garden, depending on how you view them. For example, brown snails and slugs feed on your plants and vegetables, while Decollate snails feed on both of them.
However, the most common snails found in every garden are brown snails, which are harmful to your garden.
No to All Types of Snails!
The best move is to keep them away by taking preventive measures.
It is better to not deal with them at all than to use Decollate snails and have faith in their nitrogen and nutrient-rich faeces while they eat snails and slugs.
The issue here is whether or not snails are good for your garden, and clearly, they are not.