While commercially prepared slug and snail baits are effective, handpicking, traps and barriers help to keep the garden free of snails without the use of toxins. Commercially available baits using iron sulfate are less toxic to humans and pets than those containing metaldehyde, according to Today's Homeowner.
Handpicking requires persistence to be effective. Using a flashlight after dark makes them easier to find and remove, as they often hide during the day. Gardeners have a choice of disposing of snails in a garbage bag or a bucket of soapy water. Dead slugs add valuable nutrients to the compost pile.
Beer traps attract snails and drown them. Gardeners can set these traps by burying vertical-walled containers to the rim in the garden and filling them with beer. If beer is not available, a mixture of yeast, sugar and water provides effective bait for the trap. Eliminating snails from a large area requires the use of several traps.
Although barriers do not kill snails, barriers are effective at keeping these creatures out of the garden. Eggshells, diatomaceous earth and copper foil have been used effectively. Researchers believe copper foil reacts with the slime produced by a snail or slug to create an electrical charge that redirects the snail away from the foil. When the barrier is in place, any remaining snails must be handpicked from inside the treated area.