Royal gardener reveals top tips to get rid of slugs and snails

Gardening season is just around the corner, and as we set up our projects for the coming year, we’ll be reminded of some familiar enemies: slugs and snails.

These pests can ruin your garden, but there are several things you can do to keep them out of your sanctuary.

Jack Stooks, Senior Gardener at the Royal Family’s Highgrove House, revealed that although the two are different, you can catch snails and snails together in different ways.

Mr Stooks worked for the Royal Household for more than twenty years, during which time he oversaw some of the best preserved gardens in the country.

So, how are royal gardens kept free of slugs and snails? Discover the gardener’s four methods below.

Royal gardener Jack Stooks has revealed four ways to remove slugs and snails from your garden as the gardening season begins

Mr Stooks is a Senior Gardener at Highgrove House (seen in 2013) and has worked for the Royal Household for over twenty years

Mr Stooks is a Senior Gardener at Highgrove House (seen in 2013) and has worked for the Royal Household for over twenty years

DIY fermented yeast drink trap

Mr Stooks said making your own fermented yeast drinking traps and placing them in the garden works for both pests, but you will need to refill and change them regularly.

The traps, which can be made by pouring a fermented yeast drink into a dish, pot or bowl, attract snails with their scent.

‘It’s much the same with snails and snails,’ he told Betway, ‘you can catch both with fermented yeast drinking traps, which you can buy ready-made online or make your own.

‘They can be expensive, but I would suggest making your own using jam jars. What you do is dig it into the ground so that the top is level with the ground. You put a quarter of the jam jar in there and fill it with the fermented drink.’

You can make your own ‘drink’ by mixing water with a small amount of sugar and dried yeast.

Mrs Stooks continues: ‘The slugs are attracted to the yeast smells, which causes them to walk around the pot, which can be lightly covered with a stone if necessary. You can often find some the next day, or leave them for a few days before throwing them into the compost and refilling with fresh liquor.

‘However, this does not work with snails. If you are trying to catch snails, you will need a larger glass jar because you will need a larger opening.

‘The only problem with leaving a larger opening is that once it rains the drink will be washed away, so refill the drink regularly and switch it up if you try to catch them both.’

Working by torchlight

But while the traps can be an effective solution, the gardener also revealed that one of the best ways to get rid of snails is to go outside at night with a flashlight and pick them up.

If you use the traps, you run the risk of also catching wildlife, such as insects, which would be beneficial for your garden.

“Another good way to catch snails is to pick them up,” Mr Stooks added.

‘Ideally you can do this at night and walk around with a flashlight as they are more common then.

‘These types of animals are attracted to the light of the torch, which makes them easier to catch.’

Organic gardening

He added that organic gardening will also allow wildlife back into our gardens, while naturally deterring snails and slugs from eating your plants.

Mr Stooks said: ‘Having an organic garden or using organic methods of gardening can bring wildlife such as frogs, badgers, birds and hedgehogs back into your garden.

“These animals will naturally deter snails and slugs from eating your plants as they eat them.”

The Royal Horticultural Society defines organic gardening as ‘cultivation systems that make minimal use of manufactured chemicals’ with the aim of ‘highlighting the interdependence of life forms’.

Copper collar

The garden expert’s latest suggestion to repel slugs and snails was a copper collar – where you put a copper collar around plant pots or the plants themselves.

“If you have pots and it’s easy enough to put a collar on them,” he said, “or [for] you could also do this with certain plants.

‘But I think this is a rather monotonous way of working. Fermented drinking traps are the best and easiest way to control snails in the garden, but it’s good if people can try different methods and see what works best for them.’