Snails can significantly damage plants, but you can combine natural and commercial deterrents to keep the small predators out of the garden. Your options include copper foil or screening, a drip-irrigation system and a variety of fragrant herbs, along with a regular cleaning of the garden. The time involved in keeping snails away ranges from a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on which products you choose.
- Eliminate hiding places
Snails feed mostly at night, and they hide under low branches and stones during the day. Remove as many hiding places as possible, and choose a garden site that is away from fences or decks, which also shelter snails.
- Add unfriendly plants
Snails are averse to plants that have hard leaves and a strong fragrance, including sage, lavender and rosemary. Add these plants throughout the garden as a natural deterrent.
- Change the irrigation method
Snails are attracted to the humid environment that overhead watering creates. Opt for a drip irrigation system that waters plants at the base to create a less-favorable climate for snails.
- Install a barrier
Wrap planters with copper foil, available at garden centers. The foil affects a snail's nervous system and drives the mollusk away. Another option is to install a 4-inch-tall copper screen in front of each planter as a short fence.
- Pick out the snails
If an infestation is apparent, you can remove most of the snails by hand. Pour water into the affected area late in the day to attract the snails. Return to the area after dark and use a flashlight to locate the snails. Pick them off by hand and plunge them into soapy water to kill them.