The insider secret gardeners use to keep slugs out of garden borders and help your plants thrive

How to tackle these garden pests while strengthening your plants

Slug on a plant
(Image credit: Getty Images/Gary Chalker)

As we’re welcoming the warmer months with the arrival of spring, we’re also getting to one of the wetter points of the year, and this warm, wet combo is the perfect time for slugs to thrive. Each year, keen gardeners look for ways to deter these pests and while we were doing so ourselves we discovered an insider secret of using fertiliser to deter them. But is fertiliser actually bad for slugs? 

There are several well-known methods of how to get rid of slugs, and while using fertiliser isn't typically one, it is an effective way of deterring slugs both from garden borders and potted plants, according to gardening pros. As long as you choose the right type of pot feed that is...

Below, we explain on how this gardening hack actually works and what type of fertiliser you should be investing in in order to achieve the desired result.

A garden with flower borders and potted plants

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Is fertiliser bad for slugs?

Using coffee grounds in the garden is a popular slug repellent and salt is a known slug killer, and this is exactly what using fertiliser against slugs is based on.

‘Fertilisers such as potash and nitrogen-heavy feeds will raise the salt levels in your soil. This deters and kills slugs,’ says Fiona Jenkins, gardening expert at, the UK’s leading trades matching site.

As Fiona mentions, the two types of fertiliser that have proven effective against slugs are either high in potash or high in nitrogen, such as urea, which has been found to kill both slugs and their eggs.

But Fiona adds a warning. ‘Using too much feed in your pots and beds will damage your plants.’ So don’t overdo it with the pot feed.

Additionally, even if the fertiliser doesn’t kill the slugs, it will make the plants more resilient when attacked. ‘By using fertiliser on your potted plants it will promote healthy plant growth and strong plants that are more resilient to being attacked and eaten by slugs,’ notes Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench. So it’s a win win.

But, of course, there are always alternative ways to repel and get rid of slugs, from slug tape to salt.

Slug on a plant

(Image credit: Getty Images/snurge1)

‘There are plenty of ways to control and deter slugs. Using nematodes or encouraging wildlife will reduce their numbers,’ advises Fiona. ‘Hedgehogs, blackbirds, frogs and centipedes are just some of the creatures that eat slugs.'

'You can deter slugs with herbaceous plants such as foxgloves, fuchsias, pelargoniums and geraniums. Slugs don’t like plants with hairy or scented leaves either, so you can use these around your leafy plants as a deterrent. Alternatively, go out at night when the slugs are active and remove them.’

Either way, you don’t need to helplessly tolerate their presence in your garden or on your patio as there are a myriad of ways to wave slugs goodbye.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.