Snail Fence: How To Effectively Protect Your Plants?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:51 pm


Have you discovered slugs in the garden and do not know how to proceed? Have you exhausted all home remedies against slugs and snails, but they still won’t leave your garden?

Instead of taking the next step and possibly resorting to chemical means, such as slug pellets, you should rather resort to animal-friendly barriers. A slug fence represents an insurmountable barrier for the slimy animal. With the help of the slug fence, you can protect your bed and save the plants.

Snail Fence: How To Effectively Protect Your Plants?

But how exactly is the snail fence used and what variants can you use in your garden?

The damage caused by snails

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If you have discovered a snail, then you may think that this is not so bad yet. After all, the snail crawls around very slowly on the ground and does no visible damage.

Most slugs are not a threat to your garden. On the contrary, many snail species eat old and weak plant remains. This process is important so that new plants can grow back. So, many snail species are quite useful to your garden.

But there are also snails that pose a threat to your garden. The Spanish slug is a cultivator that is actually at home in southern Europe. However, it has become increasingly widespread in Europe in recent decades and is upsetting the ecosystem.

The Spanish way snail, simply called slug by many people, has hardly any natural predators. It is very bitter and many animals therefore disdain its taste.

As a result, the snail can multiply unhindered. Within a very short time, your garden can become home to a huge population of these snails. Unlike other snail species, the Spanish way snail also plasters healthy leaves. Step by step, it will attack your plants and eat the leaves.

Not only is this not a pretty sight, but in the long run, the plants will die. If you want to protect your flower beds, then you should get rid of the slugs as soon as possible. A slug fence will prevent the pests from getting to the plants in the first place.

But how does a slug fence actually work and why is it a good defense measure?

What is a slug fence
Slugs are known to get along on most surfaces. They can climb walls of houses vertically and they don’t stop at cars either.

So what is it about the fence now that is seemingly insurmountable for snails?

The basic version of a snail fence is just a normal barrier. It is used to fence off beds in the hope that snails will not be able to cross them.

The fence is not exactly high, about 10 centimeters. The effect is also not shown by the height, because the snail can easily climb the fence up to a certain height.

Therefore, not every snail fence is equally effective. There are differences in effectiveness between manufacturers depending on the design and material used.

But how exactly does the snail fence work?

For the snail fence essential is not the vertical barrier. The fence is placed about 15 centimeters deep into the ground and is only a short 10 centimeters above ground level. This height can be climbed by the snails without any problems.

Crucial to the effect of the fence is the overhang at the top of the fence. This is because the fence is folded down at least once at the end, thus creating an insurmountable barrier. The snails now have to climb the fence headfirst in a horizontal position. This is virtually impossible for the snails.

To make the fence work even better, it can be angled downwards again at a 90° angle. In this way, the snail fence very effectively prevents the animals from having access to the bed.

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For this reason, normal high fences are ineffective. Snails can sooner or later overcome these fences and get to the bed. If you want to effectively protect your plants, the best way to do this is to buy a snail fence or convert a fence yourself.

Which variants are available

Snail fences come in many different varieties. Thus, a suitable fence can be found for any garden and it seamlessly blends into the look of the garden. The effect of the fences can differ slightly, with modern designs being very effective in most cases.

The metal snail fence

The most common type of snail fence is made of metal. This is very robust and is a great obstacle for the snails. The metal snail fence usually consists of several angled edges and therefore cannot be climbed by the snails. In addition, it can be assembled seamlessly and is a very safe protection.

Plastic as a snail repellent

If the metal fence is not desired, then there is also an alternative made of plastic. However, this fence is not so robust. Since this fence is offered in rolls, it is difficult to connect the corners so that there are no gaps. There is no overall structure here, but this must be connected by hand.

The snail fence made of plastic is a lot cheaper, but in comparison with the variants made of metal, it is not so effective against the snails. This type of fence can also be quickly damaged in somewhat harsh weather.

The snail fence with shock effect

For pastures, fences that are under electricity have long been standard. Against snails such kind of electric fences can also be used. Of course, these are a few numbers smaller and the current is low voltage. The snails are deterred by the electric fence but not killed.

In the fight against snails, this is the most effective option. However, it also involves a lot of effort. After all, there must be a power connection. If this is not available, a battery can also be used. After rainfall, there is a risk of short circuits and that the contacts are covered by soil. Then the electric fence completely loses its effectiveness. Since especially after rains the snails are active, this is particularly disadvantageous.

However, if you have the patience to maintain the fence regularly and you want to keep the snails away from the plants in any case, an electric fence is a suitable measure for snail defense.

The copper snail fence

Copper is already known as a home remedy against snails and can be used. For snails, copper as a substrate is very unpleasant and they usually avoid moving on it.

Therefore, it is only natural that a small fence can be designed from copper strips. For example, a normal fence can be extended with copper strips. However, wire mesh fences made of copper are not always effective.

Not all snails are deterred by the copper and overcome it without problems. Therefore, the copper may be useful as a complementary measure, but you should not rely solely on the effect of copper.

How to build the snail fence

Snail Fence: How To Effectively Protect Your Plants?

Once you have decided on a suitable variant, the snail fence must be professionally erected. Only if you carefully carry out the construction, the fence will be an effective defense. If you leave gaps or if the fence is not deep enough, the snails can burrow under the fence or reach the plants through the gaps.

Before you buy a slug fence, you should pay close attention to how big you actually want the slug fence to be. For this, you need to know the dimensions of your bed. If the fence is too small, it cannot be used and will not provide protection. To have a better impression about the later fence, you can mark out the fence with a thread. This will give you a better impression of the final result. After all, you still need to be able to reach the plants easily and the fence should provide an advantage, not an obstacle.

If there are unevennesses in the ground, you can level them out before building the fence and level the ground a bit. If there are still differences in height, it is better if you take a higher fence. A fence with a height of 25 centimeters is slightly more suitable if there are small irregularities. The small increase will ensure that the fence is deep enough in the ground.

See also  Should You Use Slug Pellets Or Are They Bad?

Installation is best done in pairs. This facilitates the work and the fence stands more securely. You do not need heavy or special tools for installation. A spade and gardening gloves are sufficient. To ensure that the fence actually stands straight, a spirit level can be used. However, this depends on how precise you want to be during installation.

The fence should be placed about 10 centimeters deep into the ground. This will prevent the snails from digging through the soil to the other side. There is also a little more assurance that the fence will still be firmly in the ground after a heavy rainfall.

In the first cut, you should stretch a string around the bed. This represents the course of the snail fence. If the dimensions of the string match the snail fence, you can start digging the soil. To do this, you just need to dig a small slit of soil, which is about 10 centimeters deep.

After that, place the fence in the ground. Depending on how the snail fence is designed, you need to screw or pin the corners. Once you have found the right depth, the fence should protrude about 10 to 15 centimeters from the ground. During construction, take special care to ensure that the corners have been installed without gaps. Snails are very flexible animals and can move through the smallest clearances.

Once the fence is up and everything looks good, you can backfill the soil. To make the fence stand securely, you just need to compact the soil well with a spade. Additional anchors or other fasteners are not necessary.

The construction of a plastic snail fence
If you have chosen a plastic snail fence, then the construction is a little more complex. As a rule, the fences are 20 centimeters high in the basic form. However, this already includes a border in the height of 5 centimeters. This is folded over, leaving only a total height of 15 centimeters.

This is very tight, and if the soil is somewhat uneven, it is advantageous to fix the fence on wooden boards. With the help of wooden boards, you can gain some height and the plastic fence is also more stable anchored to the earth.

It should be mentioned again that the single bent edge of 90 ° does not provide reliable protection. Sporadically, snails can overcome this edge and move to the plants. There they can multiply and even if only very few snails overcome the plastic fence, they can reproduce within the bed and so you may have to deal with a snail plague there in the long term.

What must be observed

Once the snail fence is erected, the work is not yet finished. Because in order for the snail fence to be effective in the long term, it must be constantly monitored. For example, you must ensure that there is no connection between the beds and the top of the fence. If plants grow to a height, individual branches and leaves can form a bridge. This can be used by the snails. Therefore, branches that are too long should be trimmed or otherwise kept away from the fence.

It is not only plants that can bridge. Weeds or other growth can also render the fence ineffective. It is therefore advisable to either attach a weed fleece to the inside of the fence or secure it with stones. In this way, weeds can not become a gateway for the snails unnoticed.

Furthermore, when setting up, you need to make sure that any snails have been removed from the interior. Because even if only individual snails remain in the interior, they can multiply furiously and become a threat. Then even the best snail fence will be ineffective.

To remove the snails, it is recommended that you collect them by hand and additionally set up individual snail traps. The use of slug pellets should be avoided in most cases due to its many disadvantages.

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You should completely avoid beer traps. These attract the slugs and thus have exactly the opposite effect that is desired.

If the interior of the fence is free of snails and their eggs, and you make sure that there is no connection from the plants to the fence, then you have protected your bed wonderfully with the snail fence.

Advantages and disadvantages

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Against snails there are several ways of defense. The properties differ slightly depending on the variant. But what are the specific advantages and disadvantages of the snail fence?


Snail fences made of metal provide durable protection against snails. They are sturdy, usually hot-dip galvanized, and after installation you no longer need extensive maintenance.

These types of snail fences are very environmentally and animal friendly. The snails are not harmed or affected in any way. The fences are only a barrier and unlike slug pellets, the animal can stay alive.

Another advantage is that there is no additional cost. Pest control products usually have to be applied repeatedly several times a year. This also means that new costs are always incurred and the effort is repeated. However, a metal slug fence is very sturdy and if it is solidly constructed, there is no further cost.

The snail fence protects the bed not only from snails. Birds or other minor pests can also be kept out with a simple fence. If the bed has just been freshly planted, for example, a garden fleece can be stretched over the fence. This protects the seeds from birds and gives them optimal conditions to grow.

Visually, the snail fence can also integrate well into the overall appearance of the garden. A small fence made of metal can mark out the areas of the garden and make it a little clearer. Bed borders made of wooden boards or stones are then no longer absolutely necessary.


The metal snail fence is relatively expensive to purchase. If you plan to have a bed for only one season, then the purchase may not be profitable. However, if this stands for several seasons, then the costs are spread and the benefits clearly outweigh the costs.

The plastic fence is cheaper, but more complicated in construction and not as effective. This requires some tinkering. This can quickly become unstable and not develop the desired effect.

Unfortunately, a beautiful natural wooden snail fence does not yet exist. Angled edges on a wooden fence would require a lot of effort. If you want to work with wood yourself, then you can easily build such a snail fence yourself. However, there is no wooden version available as a ready-made set.

With its small size, the snail fence is also a real trip hazard. In order to walk safely through your garden, you should not install the snail fence in hidden corners. It is better if the bed is placed in an open area that can be easily seen. In this way, you can at the same time ensure that the snails have no other access to the bed.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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