Salt against slugs: Madness, or a good idea?
Can salt be used to fight slugs and snails?
Many people recommend using salt against slugs and snails in the garden.
But does it really help?
The answer is yes and no. It depends on the method of application.
Can salt be used to kill slugs and snails?
Salt crystals bind moisture, and this makes it deadly to slugs and snails if sprinkled on them.
Some people, therefore, use table salt or road salt to kill collected slugs and snails.
But this is extremely painful for the animals and horrible to watch.
There are much more “human” ways to kill slugs and snails. Even better, there are ways to deal with the pests without killing them.
More info here: slug barriers
Can salt be used as a barrier?
Does it help to scatter salt around endangered beds as a kind of protective barrier against the slimy invaders?
Again, the answer is yes and no.
Yes, slugs and snails are unable to crawl over a line of salt, so at first glance, this seems a good solution.
But this method has horrible long-term effects.
Rain or watering can cause the salt to be washed into the soil and quickly become ineffective.
As a result, the soil’s salinity will be heavily increased and beds become acidified.
Putting out the salt in the garden can have the same effect as acid rain.
Soil pH levels will decrease sharply, and plants begin to die or stop growing properly.
Sooner or later, many useful soil organisms will also die.
With continued use of salt, the garden will slowly turn into a salt desert.
Therefore, applying road salt in this way is by no means a suitable method; indeed, in most countries, this practice is prohibited by Plant Protection Acts.
Never put out salt into the garden or on the soil.
However, if this has already been done, you can try to counteract the salinization of the soil with garden lime. This can help achieve a neutral pH value again.
Could salt still work?
There are also positive reports that salt can help fight slugs and snails without unintended side-effects.
To achieve this, double-sided tape is applied around flower tubs and carefully sprinkled with fine salt crystals.
This solution should successfully fend off slugs and snails, without becoming ineffective with the first rain.
I have yet to try this. I worry that rain or watering could quickly wash the salt into the ground.
But maybe slug collars could help prevent this from happening.
So, my tip is to treat this idea with caution. However, it can be tested easily and is cheap, too.
If you have any experiences with this solution, I would be glad to read about them below.
Salt does not belong in the garden and usually damages more than it helps.
Salt causes great harm not only to slugs and snails, but also plants and other, more beneficial creatures in the garden.
Killing collected slugs and snails with salt is not an appropriate method, as they die slowly and painfully.
Not only does this make for a gruesome sight, it is also highly questionable in terms of animal welfare.
However, one interesting possibility is to use salt in combination with double-sided tape to protect especially potted plants, at least for a certain time.
Alternatives to Salt Barriers
You could plant mostly slug-resistant flowers.
You could attract enemies of slugs and snails to your garden.