Snail Control Problems? Egg Shells NO, Brambles & Gypsum YES

If you’re tired of hearing about crushed egg shells as a solution to your slug and snail problems, you’re not alone. Despite the constant recommendations, egg shells simply don’t provide the protection your plants need. It’s time to explore natural alternatives that actually work. In this article, I’ll share my tests and findings on effective snail and slug control methods.

The Myth of Egg Shells

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Let’s address the old myth first. Crushed egg shells are often suggested as a barrier to keep snails and slugs away. However, in all my tests, these shells failed miserably. No matter the size, wetness, or quantity, snails and slugs easily ignored them and continued to feast on my plants. At most, slugs might be deterred by the presence of egg shells, but they quickly return, bigger and hungrier than ever. So, relying solely on this method is not effective.

Exploring Alternative Solutions

Dry Fine Powdery ‘Stuff’

In my experiments, I discovered that snails refuse to cross barriers made of dry, fine powdery substances. The powdery texture prevents them from gaining traction, making it impossible for them to climb over. However, it’s important to note that this method has limitations. It works best in dry and calm weather conditions, making it unreliable in our typically wet and windy climate. Still, it can be effective in a greenhouse or when adequately covered. Some examples of powdery substances you can try include gypsum, talcum powder, soot, wood ash, readybrek, chilli powder, coffee grounds, or flour. Just be cautious about the impact these substances may have on your soil and potential attraction to pests like rats or mice.

Sharp Thorn Barriers

Another effective method involves using natural barriers with tiny compacted thorns. Snails find it impossible to cross walls made of these short thorns. Brambles and roses with high thorn density are great options. Cut them into short, straight, leafless stems, and build complete barriers around the base of your plants. Slugs may have a slight advantage due to their flexibility, but they are less likely to bother with these obstacles.

The Perfect Gastropod Plant Protector

For optimal snail and slug defense, I recommend a combined approach using both a powdery substance and sharp thorn barriers. Gypsum, which repels snails and has fertilizing benefits for plants, is the best powdery substance I tested. Place a low, flat, and dry layer of gypsum about 2cm wide, and top it with a barrier of bramble stems. As the wind and rain wash the gypsum into the soil, the thorny stems will remain until you can reapply the gypsum. This dual method offers reliable protection for your plants.

Additional Considerations

Organic Slug Pellets

In particularly challenging years, you may consider adding organic slug pellets. These iron-based pellets take some time to take effect but can be an additional line of defense. However, keep in mind that organic pellets can be expensive, and their use may raise concerns about their impact on toads or other wildlife in your garden.

Cannibal Attraction

Believe it or not, slugs are attracted to the bodies of their fallen comrades. You can use this behavior to your advantage by gathering slugs and snails by hand at night and placing them together on a wooden plank. This “stamping wood” allows you to eliminate them quickly and efficiently. Leave the entrails as bait, and you’ll find more slugs returning to feed on their fallen comrades. It’s a labor-intensive technique, but it can help reduce the population.


In conclusion, forget about crushed egg shells and ineffective solutions. Instead, opt for a combination of dry powdery substances, like gypsum, and barriers made of sharp thorns, such as brambles or roses. This dual approach is the perfect gastropod plant protector, providing reliable defense against snails and slugs. Remember to consider organic slug pellets in extreme cases, and don’t underestimate the power of cannibal attraction. For more information, check out the article “Protecting your Plants from Slugs and Snails” by Pumpkin Beth. By implementing these strategies, you’ll be well-equipped to protect your precious plants from munching invaders.

For more gardening tips and advice, visit Tips Tree Planting!

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