Ah, the humble snail. With its slow and steady pace, it’s hard not to admire these little creatures. But when it comes to our gardens, some may wonder whether they bring more harm than good. So, are snails in the garden good or bad? My fellow gardeners, the answer will surprise you! Our gardens can actually benefit from snails in a number of ways. But, there are still some downsides to having them.
There are gardeners who view snails as pests that damage their plants, and there are others who welcome them as part of an ecosystem. So, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of having snails in your garden, so you can make an informed decision on how to manage these slimy critters.
Snails in The Garden Good or Bad?
Snails can be both good and bad for your garden, depending on how you look at them. You may think that they can destroy your plants, on the one hand, they can help break down decaying plant matter, which helps to enrich the soil. Let’s see some points and answer this question by ourselves, are snails in the garden good or bad?
What are Snails Good for in the Garden? 4 Benefits
Snails can actually provide some benefits to your garden. In the same way, what type of garden the snails live in determines what effect they will have on it. Below are 4 reasons why they can be considered good for your garden:
- Soil enrichment: By decaying plant matter, snails help to enrich your soil with nutrients. As they consume decaying matter, they excrete waste that contains nitrogen, which is an essential nutrient for plant growth. Thus leading to healthier soil and better-growing plants.
- Food source for wildlife: Snails can serve as a food source for other wildlife in your garden, such as birds, frogs, and small mammals. This can help to create a balanced ecosystem in your garden and promote biodiversity.
- Indicators of soil health: Snails are a good indication of good soil health. When your garden is lacking in organic matter or nutrients, you will not see snails in the garden. Healthy soil with a good balance of nutrients may have more snails.
- Beneficial species: Roman snail is protected by law in some countries because it plays an important role in the ecosystem. It feeds on decaying plant matter and helps to regulate the populations of other snail species.
Overall, snails can play a positive role in your garden, as long as their populations are managed and they are not causing significant damage to your plants. But you must be aware of the harm they make. Let’s have a look.
The Harmful Effects of Snails in the Garden
While snails can provide some benefits to your garden as we described just before this paragraph, they can also cause harm. Below are 5 harmful effects of snails in the garden:
- Plant damage: Snails are notorious for their appetite for plants. These slimy creatures can cause significant damage to your plant foliage, flowers, and fruits in your garden. They feed by scraping away the outer layer of leaves, which can leave plants vulnerable to disease and other pests.
- Population growth: Snails reproduce rapidly, which can result in exponential growth of their populations if you leave them unchecked thus leading to an overabundance of snails in your garden, which can cause even more damage to your plants.
- Disease transmission: Snails can carry diseases that can be harmful to plants. For example, they can transmit a type of nematode that can cause root rot in certain crops. There is a risk of stunted growth, reduced yields, and even death of the plants as a result.
- Aesthetic damage: Snails can leave behind a slimy trail as they move through your garden, which can be unsightly and difficult to remove. This can detract from the overall appearance of your garden.
- Attracting other pests: Snails can attract other pests to your garden, such as slugs and snail-eating insects thus leading to a cascade of problems that can be difficult to control.
So, it’s crucial to manage the population of snails and take some serious steps to prevent damage to your plants to keep a balance between the benefits and harms of snails in your garden.
Good Snails vs Bad Snails in the Garden
There are different species of snails, some are considered good for gardens as they can help with soil aeration, break down organic matter, and even serve as a food source for other garden animals. And some snails are considered bad as they can cause damage to plants by eating their leaves, stems, and flowers.
Good Snails for Garden:
- Decollate snails: These snails are known to eat the eggs of harmful pests, such as brown garden snails, and can help reduce their population in the garden. Furthermore, decollate snails contribute to soil nutrition by excreting nitrogen and nutrients. Another garden problem they will happily eat is slugs.
- Roman snails: These snails are large and slow-moving, and they can help with soil aeration by burrowing and loosening the soil. They have a distinctive spiral shell that is typically light brown in color with darker bands
Bad Snails for Garden:
- Brown garden snails: These snails are notorious for damaging plants, especially vegetables and ornamental plants, by eating their leaves and flowers. One of the most effective ways to control brown garden snails is to physically remove them from your garden. Copper repels brown garden snails, so you can create copper barriers around garden beds to keep them out.
- Giant African land snails: These snails can grow up to 8 inches in length and can cause significant damage to plants, as well as spread diseases. They can carry and transmit diseases that can be harmful to humans and animals, such as rat lungworm. In areas where they are already established, control methods include handpicking, baiting with food lures, and applying chemical molluscicides.
There are many ways to prevent bad snails from invading gardens, including handpicking them, using copper traps, or applying natural snail repellents like coffee grounds or eggshells. It’s also important to keep the garden free of debris and to water plants in the morning to avoid creating moist environments that snails are attracted to.
Will Garden Snails Kill Each Other?
Garden snails, also known as brown garden snails, typically do not kill each other. But, they may engage in aggressive behavior such as biting, headbutting, and pushing each other. This behavior is usually a result of competition for food, shelter, or mates. Occasionally, garden snails eat the shells of dead or injured snails, but this is uncommon and unlikely to kill a healthy snail.
There are, however, some predatory snail species that may prey on brown garden snails, such as the decollate snail, which has been introduced to some regions as a biological control against invasive snails. Overall, while garden snails may engage in some aggressive behavior towards each other, it is not typically lethal, and they are more likely to focus their attention on finding food and shelter in the garden.
Is Garden Snail Dangerous to Humans?
Generally, no; garden snails are not considered dangerous to humans. However, they can carry and transmit certain diseases, such as salmonella and rat lungworm, which can be harmful to humans when ingested. Garden snails can carry rat lungworm, which can cause a rare form of meningitis in humans. This parasite can be contracted by ingesting raw or undercooked snails, or by consuming vegetables or fruits that have been contaminated by the snails.
Therefore, it is important to thoroughly wash and cook any produce that may have come into contact with garden snails. Also, garden snails may pose a threat to pets, such as dogs and cats, since the parasites they carry are very harmful if consumed. It is important to monitor pets and prevent them from coming into contact with garden snails.
Make Sure You Keep the Snails in Control
In conclusion, snails in the garden can have both positive and negative effects. Although some snails cause pest problems because of their feeding habits, others are beneficial in terms of soil health and pest control. Ultimately, the decision to keep them or not will depend on your individual gardening goals and the specific species of snails present in your area.
Regardless of your stance on snails, it is important to maintain a healthy and balanced ecosystem in your garden to promote the overall health of your plants and soil. With careful observation and management, you can keep a balance that benefits both your garden and the snails that call this garden their home. Happy Gardening!