Controlling Pests

The garden environment is as prone to pests as any other and as a gardener you will find that a lot of your time is spent in the pursuit and eradication of such pests.

Of course there are some creatures in the garden that serve a purpose and can be classed as allies to you as the gardener but more often than not garden pests are a source of constant dismay.


In the United Kingdom there are twenty-four different species of slugs to chose from, each of them as irritating and as problematic to the gardener as the next. Mostly these slithery garden pests will feast on decaying garden matter but in the absence of any they will turn their unwanted attentions to fresh delicate grass and will attack roots systems, leaves and stems.

Generally snails require spaces in the soil to move so a fine tilth discourages them as does scarifying the ground in winter to expose eggs that have been laid in the grass. Removing fallen debris such as leaves or other foliage is a must as slugs love to feed on this.

You can use slug pellets to ward off these pests but you must exercise caution if you have small children or family pets in the garden at any time. A more eco-friendly method of reducing their numbers is to encourage hedgehogs into your garden using dog food, which hedgehogs love to eat. They are also a natural predator of slugs so this helps keep their numbers down.


Although earthworms are useful in helping provide your soil with essential nutrients there is a price to be paid if their numbers reach huge proportions. Earthworms are the stable diet for moles and should your soil become overly populated with them you will soon find yourself having to deal with the problem of moles. Moles can hear an earthworm moving up to five metres as they have excellent hearing – a compensation for having poor eyesight.

It is worth pointing out that moles are extremely destructive in their quest for earthworms and can make a healthy, good looking lawn appear like something of a battlefield in a remarkably short space of time.

Moles can be kept at bay using fumigation techniques, a sulphurous smoke is pumped down into mole hills and can work at short distances but it is worth remembering that although perhaps a little clumsy they can move incredibly quickly and dig their way out of trouble so fumigating their runs is best carried out in warm weather which allows the smoke to travel.

Another less radical idea is to use a highly concentrated mix of Jeyes Fluid and water – 1:20 ratio – which when poured down into the run sends the moles off in another direction as this highly potent aroma plays havoc with their heightened sense of smell.


Snails are also a common enemy of the gardener and can make light work of a lawn in the same way as slugs can. There is a common misconception that snails and slugs sleep – or hibernate – during the winter, this is simply not true. Whilst snails can seal themselves into their shells in cold periods they – and slugs – do not fall dormant and should be considered a natural pest all year round. There are varying slug and snail repellents available on the market today, which work well and cause no damage to grass or turf.

If you have flowerpots near to your lawn it is a good idea to move them as these are perfect breeding grounds for slugs and snails that lay their eggs in damp locations. It is worth considering that in a snail’s average lifespan it can lay upwards of 40,000 eggs so keeping them in check in your garden is a must.

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