- UC Marin Master Gardener Events & Classes
Garden Help from UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Farmers Markets
- Help Desk
- All about citrus
- Ornamental grasses
- Beneficial insects
- Preventing a codling moth invasion
- Stop snails in their tracks
- Winter garden color
- Caring for holiday gift plants
- Propagating native plants
- Japanese maples
- Container gardening
- Growing gorgeous camellias
- Redwood trees
- Pomegranates: an ancient tree
- Bulbs for spring
- Nothing quite like a freshly picked bouquet
- Seeds hold the miracle of life, so save, swap and share them
- Sold on Salvia
- Sudden Oak Death: a million trees gone and counting
- Habitat gardens
- Growing In Your Garden Now - Fava Beans
- Using water effectively in the garden
- Yikes, thrips
- Growing a salad in a pot
- Rain gardens: an attractive solution to a challenging environmental problem
- How to select bare root roses
- Lovely birds... or pests?
- Australian plants in winter
- Get a head start on spring with cold frames
- Snails and slugs: keep them out of the garden
- Sow seeds now for flowers in spring and summer
- Fire-safe landscaping
- Plants made for the shade
- Chinese pistache tree glows in autumn
- Attracting honey and native bees to your garden
- Sow wildflower seeds in fall for spring show
- Native shrubs create a visual anchor in landscapes - fast
- What to plant in the fall-winter veggie garden
- Proper pruning of wisteria for a plethora of blossoms
- Compost for every corner of your spring garden
- All about mushrooms
- Butterflies in the garden
- Growing blueberries
- How to plant a fruit tree
- Protecting plants from frost
- What's that plant?
- Bright spots of color lift the drabness of the winter garden
- Books for Marin gardeners
- Benefits of School Gardens
- Trees: not just nice to look at
- Dealing with mosquitos
- Epilobium – California fuchsia
- Why bees matter, and how you can help
- Picking the Right Plant for the Right Place in Your Garden
- What's That Plant?
- Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh
- Late Summer Color
- Growing Summer Squash
- Short on space? Containers!
- Herbs: tough, attractive, practical
- These plants are true companions
- Companion planting in the vegetable garden
- Get Grounded – Healthy Soil Does Matter
- Mushrooms on the March
- Our Gentle Winters are Good for Vegetables
- Rodents like it Warm
- Know What Makes an Invasive Species Invasive
- California Natives - Plant Like a Native
- Consider a Simple Water-Catchment System and Rain Garden/Bioswale Before Winter Rains Arrive
- Have You Scheduled a FREE Bay-Friendly Garden Walk?
- A Green Autumn
- Rx for Pests: Ants
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- Colorful Drought-Tolerant Plants Thrive in Marin
- Water Restrictions and Recognizing Signs of Water Stress
- UC Researcher Is Helping Plants Survive the Drought
- Summer Is Perfect For Peppers
- Do the Leaves on Your Trees Look Scorched?
- Fine Tune Your Garden
- How to Recognize Drought and Water Stress
- Spring is the Time for Potatoes, Asparagus and Citrus
- Don't Let Stink Bugs... Bug Your Vegetables
- Harvesting Berries
- Water Heroes
- Natural Cold Storage
- Fruit Trees; Why We Treat Them in Dormancy
- Fondness for Old Friends
- What Happens to Garden Bad Guys in Winter?
- Plants that aren't blown away by the wind
- A hill o' beans
- Fruit tree thinning
- Fragrant plants: Add some chocolate or Kool-Aid to your garden
- Top 10 resolutions for Marin gardeners
- Trees with interesting bark shine in winter
- Who says your garden has to be green?
- Plant bulbs now for spring beauty
- Gardener's checklist for fall
- Cover crops boost soil in vegetable beds
- Rx: Living with deer
- Growing berries in Marin
- How to build healthy soil
- Gardener's checklist for summer
- Water-saving tips for the home garden
- Gardener's checklist for spring
- Stop the popping - Controlling hairy bittercress
- How to control aphids
- Brightening up the winter garden
- Selecting a fruit tree
- What to plant and harvest in the winter vegetable garden
- Rain, rain, don't go away
- Gardener's checklist for winter
- Getting rid of rats
- Fall: a time for planning and planting
- Asparagus: spears for years
- Lawn: use it or lose it
- Rx for powdery mildew
- Community Outreach Projects of UC Marin Master Gardeners
- Great Gardening Information
- Selecting Plants
- Marin Master Gardener Independent Journal Articles
- How to Become a Master Gardener
- UC Marin Master Gardeners Opportunity Fund: Providing for the Future
Snails and slugs: how to keep these slimy invaders out of your garden
It’s a nice evening in your garden when you suddenly spot a suspicious, slimy trail and a favorite hosta full of holes. You cautiously turn over the leaf and there it is: a snail. Question is, what do you do now?
Snails arrived in California in the 1850s from France, imported by gourmands with a yen for escargot. Slugs and snails are most active at night and on cloudy days, hiding in shady spots during the heat of the day. When it's cold, they hibernate, sometimes attached to trees or walls.
A snail can lay 80 eggs up to six times a year, while a slug usually produces three to 40 eggs at a time. Since they are hermaphroditic, meaning that they have both male and female reproductive organs, they do not need to find a mate in order to produce fertile eggs. These gastropods use mucus to slip along on their "stomach feet," creating the silvery trails that glow at night. Slugs and snails are similar biologically, except slugs don’t have the distinctive outer shell of snails.
Is it snail damage?
You can recognize snail and slug damage generally by the smooth-edged, irregularly shaped holes they make in leaves, flowers, or succulents. Sometimes it is difficult to differentiate damage caused by snails from damage caused by insects such as caterpillars or earwigs. The clearest way to tell is to spot the slime trail on or near the damaged plant. It is important to determine the type of creature causing the damage in order to take the proper management steps to eradicate it.
How to control snails and slugs
There are several strategies to reduce your snail and slug population. Here’s how:
1. Clean up debris where they can hide, such as under stones or wood, under low-growing branches, or in ground covers like ivy. Vegetable gardens and other snail favorites should be placed as far away as possible from typical snail hiding places.
2. Switch from sprinkler to drip irrigation to reduces the humidity in a garden. Snails love nice moist conditions, so reducing water makes the environment less hospitable.
3. Install a copper barrier. Copper foil can be applied around the tops of planting boxes, just make sure there are no snails trapped within the perimeter.
5. Encourage natural predators. Luckily, snails and slugs have many natural predators. They provide meals to beetles, snakes, toads, turtles and birds. Ducks, geese and chickens find snails and slugs to be delicious treats, too, but they also like seedlings, so it can be a mixed blessing to have them tottering through the garden.
6. Hunt them down. The hunters among you can handpick snails at night using a flashlight and rubber gloves. Destroy by crushing and dispose.
7. Choose plants carefully. One of the most effective ways of controlling snails is through careful plant selection. Snails and slugs enjoy soft-leaved, herbaceous plants like basil, beans, cabbage, dahlias, delphiniums, hostas, lettuce and many other vegetables and low-growing berries like strawberries. A few soft-leaved species such as begonias, poppies, fuchsias, geraniums, impatiens and nasturtiums are resistant to snails. In general, snails dislike grasses, plants that have rigid leaves, and woody, fragrant plants like rosemary, sage, and lavender.
8. Use baits. If all else fails, you can bait for snails. The safest method is to use iron phosphate baits available at nurseries because they are safe to use around children, pets, and wildlife. Water the garden before you apply the bait in order to encourage snail activity. The bait causes the snails to stop feeding. You may miss the slime trails, but your garden will be happier.
Original article by Juliana Jensen for the Marin Independent Journal
Edited for The Leaflet by Julie McMillan
Photos courtesy of UCANR