10 Scents That Snails Hate (And How To Use Them)

Snail on dewy grass

Snails can make their way into nearly any garden, making it challenging to keep the pests away. It’s best to deter snails from your yard before they invade. Did you know there are ten scents snails hate? 

Snails are attracted to strong scents, which indicate food sources and shelter. You can use this trait to your advantage and repel snails by using scents they hate, such as rosemary, lavender, peppermint, hyssop, cedarwood, catmint, pine oil, vinegar, thyme and garlic.

A garden is an inviting place for many critters. Here you will find ten proven scents snails hate and how to use them. It’s time to get rid of the slimy gastropods once and for all. 

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Problems That Snails Cause

There are several issues with allowing snails to take up residence in your yard and garden. While snails do not have noses, they have a stellar sense of smell, making it easy for them to find the tastiest treats in your yard. 

An Oregon State University report says to look for “silvery mucous trails” if you suspect snails in your garden. You also will notice holes or jagged edges in your plants.

They also suggest treating your yard in autumn as a long-term control solution. This will prevent snails from laying eggs in your garden. 

Snails work fast, so it is essential to address the issue before it gets too bad. 

The tiny pests are out most at night and are even more active at the start of spring when new plants grow. 

Snails reproduce quickly, and since they are hermaphrodites, they don’t even have to mate. Instead, a single snail can produce several hundred eggs a year. 

While snail bait products are available, trying a few natural approaches first never hurts. 

If you are experiencing a snail or slug problem inside your home, check out this piece 4 Reasons Why Snails And Slugs Come Into Your House. The rest of this article will fill you in on keeping the pests out of your garden!

Snails Will Eat Through Your Garden 

You have worked so hard planting the perfect garden, only to find half-chewed leaves and holes in your produce. Snails love the nutrient-rich foods you are also looking forward to eating. 

They love to munch on lettuce, basil, cabbage, beans, fruits, and other vegetables. 

Once you see evidence of snails on your plants, you likely will not want to eat the remnants. 

Fresh growth attracts snails, so it is essential to protect your garden as early as possible. They will quickly reduce your crop yield if not taken care of properly. 

Snails are excellent climbers, so even tall plants are no match for a hungry and determined snail. 

Snails Destroy Roots 

The damage snails can do to your garden also runs deep. Not only will they eat through leaves and plants, but they also will snack on the roots. 

Once they get to the roots, the chances of your plant coming back to life are not high. While they may only get part way through large roots, they can make their way through smaller roots and completely ruin the plant. 

Unfortunately, snails can burrow their way into the ground, so you might not know you have one down in there. So keep an eye out for any unusual holes dug by a snail.

Snails Can Spread Disease 

The University of California Berkeley reported how snails containing parasites could spread diseases as they travel around. If contaminated snails eat your garden, and you eat from the same plant, you risk getting sick. 

It also only takes one snail to contaminate an entire area, which is why it is essential to deter snails in the first place. If you have young children who put everything in their mouths, you want to make sure they do not do so with a snail. 

The Center for Disease and Control (CDC) reports snails have the potential to carry rat lungworm, a parasite they pick up from ingesting the larvae from rat droppings. 

Sounds disgusting, right? Just another reason it is crucial to deter snails from your garden. 

Deter Snails With These 10 Scents 

Side view of Achatina Fulica between water drops. A large adult snail climbs on a wet banana leaf in a tropical rainforest. Giant snail crawling.

Since pesticides can also harm your plants or animals, it is wise to go with a natural approach first. 

Snails can easily make their way into your garden, so you need to be one step ahead of them. 

If you feel like the problem is beyond your control, contacting a professional is never a bad idea. If you need help finding an exterminator near you, we have you covered right here

Now, on to the list of the ten scents snails hate and how to use them. 

Plant Rosemary To Keep Snails Away

Rosemary has a powerful scent and is a great way to barricade snails from entering your yard. Since we often use the herb in cooking, rosemary will prove helpful in more than one way. 

The fragrant herb also sprouts beautiful flowers to add a pleasant touch to your garden. 

You will want to be sure to plant it as a barrier or in between the plants being eaten by snails. 

The herb does not grow too fast, so you will want to be confident in the area where you plant it, knowing it will take some time to spread. 

Rosemary can live for nearly 20 years and is easy to maintain, making it an excellent choice in keeping snails out of your garden. You want to make sure it gets plenty of sunlight to thrive. 

Lavender Is A Natural Snail Repellent 

Snails are no match for the potent smell of lavender. While humans often love the aroma of lavender, snails would gladly leave the scent alone. 

You can use lavender oil or potted lavender to deter snails. 

Put drops of the oil around your garden or spray the fragrance around the perimeter. Since the odor will not last forever, reapply at least every two weeks. 

Potted lavender can be moved around easily as you find evidence of the snails in your garden. It is also a beautiful addition to any garden. 

Spray Peppermint Oil To Deter Snails

You can use peppermint oil for a variety of garden pests, and that includes snails. Mighty Mint Insect and Pest Control Peppermint Oil is a ready-made natural solution you can spray in and around your garden. 

You can also make your own. Add around ten drops or one tablespoon of peppermint oil to a squirt bottle and spray the area where you find snails.

It is best to spray the entire perimeter of your plants to ensure complete coverage. You will want to repeat the process at least once a week. 

Add Hyssop In Your Garden To Keep Snails Out

Purple flowers of hyssop (hyssopus officinalis)

Hyssop belongs to the mint family and is a helpful herb in keeping snails away. In addition to protecting your garden, hyssop is an antioxidant that has been used to treat specific ailments. 

The plant goes back to Biblical times, and its fragrant leaves will help snails turn away from your garden. The best way to use hyssop as a snail deterrent is to plant it around the perimeter of your garden. 

The herb grows modestly, so you will want to use your patience with this one. The good news is it can thrive even in dry soil, making it less ideal for snails. 

Finally, hyssop does an excellent job of attracting honey bees and butterflies, making your garden a beautiful place to be. 

Spray Cedarwood Oil To Keep Snails Away

Cedarwood oil has a scent to it like you would expect: woody. While the aroma may be pleasurable to humans, snails would prefer to avoid it at all costs.

Add cedarwood oil and water to a squirt bottle for best results. If there has been heavy rain, you will want to make sure you reapply the spray to the desired areas in your garden. 

You can also lay cedar chips around your garden as a method to keep the snails away. 

Plant Catmint As A Snail Deterrent

Catmint has a powerful odor snails will avoid. The fragrant flower is a beautiful blue color and will brighten up your garden while it keeps the snails from snacking on your plants. 

Unlike rosemary, some varieties of catmint grow fast, making them hard to control. Therefore, you will want to stay on top of cutting back the plant to prevent it from overtaking your garden. 

As you are planting the catmint, ensure you have plenty of space to grow and place them near the plants attracting snails. 

Catmint is also known for drawing in hummingbirds and additional pollinators, which is an added benefit. 

Since the size of the plant can vary, ensure you pick the appropriate one for your space. 

Use Pine Oil To Drive Away Snails

Another great essential oil to keep the snails away is pine. You simply add pine and water together and spray on the desired area. 

While the aroma may remind you of being in a forest full of pine trees, snails hate the scent of pine.

You can also add pine needles to your garden, as snails dislike crawling over the prickly needles. If you have an indoor evergreen tree you are ready to get rid of, pull some needles off first to spread across your garden to add a prickly barrier that snails hate.

Make A Vinegar Solution To Rid Your Garden Of snails

Vinegar really can solve most of the world’s problems. It cleans any mess and can make stains on a carpet disappear. Vinegar also is effective in keeping snails out of your garden. 

Since vinegar has a strong odor, it is best to mix it with water and then spray it throughout your garden. You can spray the mixture around your garden hose, as the moisture it provides can attract snails.

Don’t spray vinegar directly on plants but rather, spray it around plants or areas where snails frequent to repel them.

Plant Thyme In Your Garden To Get Rid Of Snails

Thyme goes excellent with a lot of recipes. While you may love the aroma in your kitchen, snails do not have a desire to smell it. 

Plant thyme around the areas where you know snails are making their way in. You can also plant it between other plants, but be sure to give plenty of space for things to grow. 

If you do not want it as a permanent fixture in your garden, you can keep it potted and move it as desired. Thyme requires full sun, so be sure to plant it appropriately. 

Finally, thyme does not need much water to grow, which is ideal for keeping the snails away as well. 

Use Garlic To Repel Snails

Last on the list of scents snails hate is garlic. Garlic is not just to keep the vampires away. It does a great job of preventing snails from making their way into your garden. 

Garlic contains allicin, which gives the vegetable its fragrant odor and acts as a root stimulant, so it benefits the plants in your garden. 

A garlic mixture takes a bit of extra work to put together. Add a garlic bulb and water to a food processor to help mix the two up. 

Once combined, add the mixture to a squirt bottle and spray the area you are trying to protect. You can also use garlic salt if you don’t have a food processor. 

How to Get Rid of Snails Permanently 

Giant African land snail on wood floor

As with most invaders, some solutions to eliminate them are only temporary. As you are trying to eliminate the pests, knowing 5 Reasons Snails Are In Your Garden (And How To Remove Them) is essential.  

Understanding why they find their way to your garden will help you put an end to the problem quickly. 

Alongside adding the listed scents to your garden, here are a few longer-term remedies to try. 

Keep Your Garden Weed-Free

Weeds are good at hiding snails, and you may not see the invaders until it is too late. By staying on top of pulling weeds, you will ensure no available hiding places for the pests.

In addition, make sure you spread your plants out well to prevent snails from being hidden within them. The sneaky pests are great at hide-and-seek. 

Reduce Moisture 

Snails thrive in a moist environment, so it is essential to avoid having any unnecessary spots for them to enjoy, like a leaky hose or wet logs. Also, ensure there is no standing water in your garden. 

Avoid watering your garden in the evening when snails are more active to reduce moisture that attracts snails. An advantage to watering in the morning is the soil will have time to dry up a bit before the snails make their way out. 

As mentioned, snails are nocturnal, and giving them water at night is a written invitation to come in and munch away.

Add Snail Predators To Your Garden 

There are several animals you can add to your yard to help keep the snails out. Ducks, geese, frogs, and garden snakes will gladly help prevent snails from getting to your plants

While not every person has the space to add a flock of geese, even by adding a few frogs, you’ll help cut down on the population of snails. 

Hedgehogs, mice, squirrels, ground beetles, turtles, possums, and blackbirds are also predators to snails. 

Lay Gravel or Wood Chips 

Snails have a hard time traveling over bumpy terrain. Consider adding gravel, woodchips, or even sand to prevent a snail from making its way into your garden.

Ensure anything you lay is not big enough for the snails to hide under. 

Anything with a rough texture will be too uncomfortable for a snail to travel across. Remember, you want to make sure you have enough laid out to act as a deterrent. 

Set Up a Barrier That Snails Won’t Crawl Over

If the listed scents are not keeping snails away from munching on your plants, then it might be time to set up a barrier. Snails have a difficult time crossing over copper, and therefore it makes an excellent barrier to keep the pests out. 

The University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources states that copper responds with the slime created by snails and then causes disruption with their nervous system. 

If you do not have copper lying around, you can purchase Copper Foil Tape by LOVIMAG, and it will also do the trick. Monitor the tape and replace it when it becomes dirty or worn. 

You can also get a Wanqueen Copper Mesh Roll to create a barrier to keep the snails out. Always check the area for current trespassers before putting up a fence. You do not want to lock the snails in the garden by accident. 

Snails also dislike coffee grounds or eggshells, so placing those around your plants will help keep the nuisances out. Be sure to break up the eggshells for better coverage. 

As a bonus, coffee grounds add nutrients to your garden. They contain several minerals that will help your plants flourish.

Add Plants to Keep Snails Away 

There are specific plants that snails don’t prefer to climb across, even if it means getting in your garden. 

Snails will stay away from any plant with a potent scent or an unpleasant texture. 

Here are a few plants that snails stay away from:

  • Poppy
  • Hydrangeas 
  • Geraniums 
  • Yucca
  • Lamb’s Ears
  • Snapdragons
  • Ferns
  • Marigolds 
  • Euphorbia
  • Bugleweed
  • Hostas
  • Japanese Anemone
  • Jacob’s Ladder
  • Wormwood 

Wrapping Things Up!

There you have it! Snails will gladly make their way through your garden, given the right environment. 

Do not forget, snails like moist areas with plenty of nutrient-rich plants and do not enjoy traveling over rough terrain. 

The tiny gastropods are a nuisance, but you can help keep them away using the following scents. 

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender 
  • Peppermint Oil 
  • Hyssop 
  • Cedarwood Oil
  • Pine
  • Catmint
  • Vinegar 
  • Thyme

Remember, you need to keep your garden as free of weeds and dry as possible. Do not make it an inviting place.

We appreciate you taking the time to read! 

Hopefully, this article will have snails turning up their noses to your garden if they had noses, of course!

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