Eat Drink Better

Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by Patricia Larenas


Snails in Your Edible Garden? Bring Out the Copper

Snail and copper strip barrier

Snail versus copper – copper wins!

I refuse to use pesticides in my garden- it’s not worth the damage to the environment. But at this time of year when I’m planting the tender, defenseless seedlings that I carefully nurtured from precious seeds, I get desperate. Snails will mow down seedlings in the blink of an eye.

I’ve used Sluggo, which helps but is variable in effectiveness. The active ingredient is iron phosphate, safe for use around pets and wildlife and sanctioned for organic gardening, but using too much may cause phosphate build up in the soil. So I turned to my secret weapon: copper foil.

I’ve used small copper foil strips to protect young plants that I’m trying to establish in my garden until they have a chance to mature and can stand on their own against snails. It’s 100% effective in my experience.

But I hadn’t thought of wrapping my planting beds in the stuff – until I saw it in a slide show by Maureen Decombe of Green Willow Gardens.

Planting bed with copper strip

My planting bed wrapped with copper foil

My organic garden supply store has copper strips for sale to use as snail barriers – they are worth every penny! I bought 40 feet and immediately wrapped two of my front yard beds.

According to a University of California Integrated Pest Management (IPM) web page:

“It is believed that copper barriers are effective because the copper reacts with the slime that snails and slugs secrete, causing a disruption in their nervous system similar to an electric shock.”

The copper barrier is supposed to be effective for several years, and can be refreshed with vinegar if it tarnishes. My copper, show in the photos, is 4 inches wide which is a good width for a snail barrier. I’ll still go out and handpick them to keep them from eating the rest of my garden, but I’m enjoying this small victory!

Photos: Patricia Larenas, Urban Artichoke


Keep up with the latest sustainable food news by signing up for our free newsletter. CLICK HERE to sign up!

Tags: , , , , ,

About the Author

Patricia Larenas is a writer and gardener living in Silicon Valley doing her part to heal the planet, one garden at a time. She left her career in the tech sector to dig in the dirt full time and help others create and enjoy their edible landscapes. Read more at her web site:

3 Responses to Snails in Your Edible Garden? Bring Out the Copper

  1. Have you ever tried using pennies to repel slugs and snails in the garden? Not sure if they contain enough copper to be effective?

    • Thanks Rhonda,
      Interesting! No I haven’t tried. You have to make a physical barrier, so using lots of pennies maybe?! Yesterday I watched a humungous snail go up to the barrier and recoil in horror. He/she tried really hard to find a way around it. I just smiled…

  2. Pingback: Important Media Roundup for May 1-7, 2012

Back to Top ↑
  • Support our Site!

  • Advertisement

  • Let’s Connect!

  • Advertisement

  • Popular Posts & Pages

    Whether you are looking to completely give up animal products or just want to try eating vegan some of the time, we want to support you! Below, you’ll find articles answering some common questions about vegan cooking and nutrition. If you don’t see your question answered below, please get in touch with us! We are happy to investigate for you!

    Find out what's in season now, plus get plenty of recipe inspiration to help you make the most of every season's beautiful, local fare.

    I love infographics. When I came across this one about what, how, and when to plant vegetables, I thought I’d share. Keep reading after the pic for a few of my own lessons learned.

    Top Sustainable Food Jobs of the Week.

    Looking for an all vegan grocery store? Even if you’re not lucky enough to have one in your town, there are lots of online options for vegan grocery shopping.

  • Advertisement

  • Search the IM Network

  • The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.