Gardening expert shares most ‘effective’ natural methods to deter slugs and snails

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Slugs and snails are bothersome pests that can devastate British gardens. They like to target plants that have lots of tender green foliage and young plants. Slugs’ favourite flowers include marigolds, hostas, dahlias, sunflowers and lupins.

Now, Sarah Mead, head gardener at the Yeo Valley Organic Garden in Somerset has shared her top tips that all gardeners can adopt to control pests naturally.

Sarah has been gardening organically for 20 years and has even created one of very few ornamental gardens in the UK to be fully certified organic by the Soil Association.

The gardening expert said she has tried “various methods” of “barrier control” for slugs and snails, but has found two methods to be the most “effective”.

She said: “Sprinkling coffee grounds (not decaf) around precious plants in a generous circle seems to work well for us.

“We also recommend copper rings.

“You can make your own by buying the copper from a roofing supplier by the roll – it’s a much cheaper alternative than buying ready-made.”

Another way to deter general pests including slugs and snails is by encouraging birds into the garden.

She explained: “We feed the birds generously throughout the winter, when they most need it, and then remove the feeders in spring to encourage them to focus on eating our pests.”

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However, not all pests in the garden are bad news for your plants.

Pests are food for species higher up the food chain so you don’t need to completely wipe them out.

Sarah explained further: “We have learnt to take a more relaxed approach and turn the other cheek where pests are concerned.

“A pest is a delicious snack for someone higher up the food chain, so don’t be too hasty to wipe them out.

“By tolerating your pests, you are providing a valuable food source for your predators and they will do the work for you.”

This month has been labelled Organic September by the Soil Association.

To mark this, Yeo Valley Organic will be creating the first organic show garden at Chelsea Flower Show later this month to be fully approved by the Soil Association.

The show garden at Chelsea is designed by Tom Massey, in collaboration with Sarah and is inspired by the organic garden around the Yeo Valley farmhouse in Somerset (one of the UK’s largest organic ornamental gardens).

Sarah added: “We know organic has huge benefits for the environment, particularly in safeguarding our soil and supporting pollinators and wildlife, but you don’t have to go the whole hog.

“Working with, rather than against, nature in your garden is good for the planet and it helps your mental and physical health.”

The Chelsea Flower Show has been postponed from May to September this year.

The event will take place from September 21 to September 25 at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

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