Gardening expert shares how to create a slug-free border without ‘chemical warfare’

Matt James shows how to plant a slug-free border

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Gardening expert Matt James shared how to create a slug and snail-free border using clever techniques with thick-leafed and ornamental plants. In a 2013 video for Waitrose & Partners, Matt shared how to keep pests away from your garden without using chemicals. Slugs and snails are the most common garden pests and can quickly destroy even the most beautiful garden.

They often eat vegetables, ornamental plants and especially love snacking on seedlings.

Matt said the trick to a slug-free garden is using plants slugs and snails don’t like.

Matt said: “Slugs and snails are probably one of the most annoying of garden pests but there is something you can do without resorting to chemical warfare.

“It’s easy when you know how. You just need to use plants which have got characteristics that slugs don’t like.

“Slugs and snails aren’t partial to plants with thick and waxy leaves, plants with furry or hairy leaves, or plants with spiky leaves.

“So here I’ve got a sedum telephium red emperor.

“I’ve got an ornamental yarrow and I’ve got sea holly called picos amethyst.

“They’re also not partial to ornamental grasses and here I’m using stipa tenuissima – the Mexican feather grass.”

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Matt said if you’re armed with this information, you should be able to create a stunning display that slugs and snails don’t like.

He continued: “All I’m doing here is arranging my plants with height in mind.

“That is smaller ones towards the front of the border and taller ones towards the back.

“Also, because this is a fairly big border, I’m making sure that I arrange the plants in relatively large but informal teardrop shapes because I want to avoid a spotty, bitty appearance.

“Once I’m happy, all I’ve got to do is get them in the ground.”

The gardening pro said there are many other plots slugs and snails will leave alone.

Some of those include thick, scrappy agapanthus, the coarse foliage of verbena bonariensis, lavender because of its strong scent and tough leathery leafed persicaria.

Matt said all these plants will be able to withstand the “20,000 teeth each slug uses on its slimy trail of destruction”.

He concluded: “Well, that’s the planting finished and here we have a lovely group that doesn’t just look good, it will resist a mollusc massacre.”

You can tell if slugs and snails have been in your garden because they leave holes in leaves, stems, flowers, tubers and bulbs.

They also leave behind slime trails which can look like a silvery track.

Young plants can sometimes be completely eaten by slugs and snails.

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