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Making a barrier to stop slugs and snails

Everyone with a vegetable garden will agree: we don't need any more slugs or snails. We want less. Or none at all.

This page is all about the different types of barriers designed to stop slugs and snails in their tracks. What works and what doesn't?
No slugs allowed!
In the last couple of articles, I covered:
Sure, I would sacrifice some cabbage leaves if it would keep slugs and snails away from my lettuce.

But what do you do with plants that they like even more than cabbage? Or when your garden is the target of a real snail infestation?

Bakken op de grond? Dan is schrikdraad het enige dat écht helpt

A barrier should prevent slugs and snails from getting near your plants. Then you don't have to worry and don't have to think about them anymore.

But my garden is in a true snail zone. That's why we invented our own slug fence:
Schrikdraad van de Makkelijke Moestuin

En al die ander middeltjes waar je over leest?

We spent a long time designing a new version - one that doesn't rust and is easy to assemble. This turned out to be far more complicated and expensive - than we expected.

At the moment we are working on a new solution that does not require batteries. 



I'd heard that you can make a natural barrier from eggshells:
Broken eggshells around my young plants
It didn't work 🤨

Plastic containers with vaseline

Plastic bakjes - met vaseline

You can protect some fragile seedlings with plastic containers:
Plastic bakje (zonder bodem!) als individuele slakken barriere
A - bottomless - plastic container can guard individual plants from snails and slugs fairly well
Since slugs and snails have trouble with the smooth side of the plastic, this can help with young kale, sunflower, or lettuce plants. Especially if you use Tieke's tip:

"I put small plastic containers around each seedling. (I cut off the bottom first.) Then I spread a ring of vaseline 10 cm wide along the outside of the container. The vaseline makes it even harder for the slugs to climb. So they fall off or give up."

Unfortunately, it doesn't work for all slugs:
Deze slak trekt zich nergens wat van aan
This slug isn't bothered at all

Early experiments

So, sometimes people send me things to try out. That's one of the perks of the job 😉

In 2014, I got a type of netting that's supposed to keep out slugs and snails. Of course we tested it. We tried it on my aunt's plants, because the slugs seemed to like her garden boxes best:
That's my Aunt Ien
We secured the wire netting to the garden box with the stakes. 

Then we covered the edges of the netting with dirt or wood chips to weigh it down, so the slugs couldn't crawl underneath:


Hoek of U-profielen

So, you'd think that an L-profile in the corners of the garden box would work too. The theory is: if a snail has to climb up the garden box, then crawl horizontally, and then go down again, it will lose its way.
Hoekprofiel moet de slakken tegenhouden
L-profiles line the edges of the garden box
We tested it and it helped. For a little while. After that, they just climbed over it.

Testing out the prickly barrier

De slakkenborstel

I went on the hunt and found the perfect volunteer in no time.

It only took a moment for the snail to smell something good and climb up:
Zie daar maar eens overheen te komen
Try to climb over that, buddy
After a few unsuccessful attempts, the snail crawled a little farther - looking for an opening - but that didn't last very long:
Vergeefse moeite: blaas de aftocht
The snail retreats!
Well, the celebration didn't last long. I'd barely shared my experience online when disappointed users started sharing theirs:
De slakken kropen er gewoon overheen!
The slug just crawls right over it
(Thanks to Johan and Jan for the revealing pictures) 

And later, this was my bean box in 2018:
Fakir naaktslakken ...
Slugs on a mission
So, it looks like the brush barrier keeps out snails. But not slugs.



Some people swear by copper tape.

The more I read, the less hopeful I felt. 

But still: I got enough enthusiastic emails, I decided to try it. I stuck a roll of copper tape along the sides of one of my garden boxes. It had a pumpkin plant in it that slugs had attacked before.

One rainy night later, this is what I saw:
Wat doet die grote naaktslak daar?
What is that slug doing there?
"Wait Jelle, that could be a slug that was already in the garden box before you added the copper tape."

Okay, sure. But then we did a test. There were plenty of slugs around. So, I stuck a few on the side of the garden box, below the copper tape. I used a munched-up leaf as bait. Then I waited. 

Most of the slugs were too full and just sat there. 

But the 2 biggest - a snail and slug - soon were on the move: 
The slug is on the left, the snail is on the far right
See? The slug had no problem climbing right over it: 

Testing and comparing materials

In the US, Bob Kelland made this film about copper tape and other materials:
We used this principle to develop our own slug and snail fence.

But to stop all slugs and snails - both big and tiny - we use 4 wires instead of 2:

Op naar het volgende onderwerp

Okay, so that's everything I can tell you about barriers to keep out slugs and snails.

So, lastly: it's time to talk about - *cough* - killing them. 

Sounds rough, but many experts say it doesn't have to be. 

Let's get to it!

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