This post kicks off a 3-part series on low-maintenance/sustainable gardening. The side of our house doesn’t get a lot of sun, so we planted shade tolerant hostas and ground cover to fill in that area and crowd out weeds. The hostas have filled in beautifully over the years, but by mid summer they are all torn to shreds and have more holes than swiss cheese. Batman may be resigned to fighting thugs, but we were tired of fighting slugs and wanted to put a stop to their reign of crime once and for all. We tried every environmentally friendly thing from eggshells to diatomaceous earth to no avail, until we finally found the answer: copper! Excuse the bad pun, but just like commissioner Gordon of Batman fame, a little ‘copper’ goes a long way to fighting crime.
Last year we ran an experiment: we wrapped pure copper wire mesh around the bases of half our hostas and left the other half as-is. We had read that copper repels snails and slugs because they don’t like to touch it. We thought it would be worth a try – and who doesn’t love a pest-control product that’s non-toxic and sustainable!
By the end of the summer, the hostas we wrapped with copper were hole-free as compared to the others that weren’t (you can see the large hosta in the foreground below has several holes in the leaves). ‘Hosta’ la vista, slugs! Overall, even the ones we didn’t wrap had less slug damage than usual.
This year we put the copper around all our hostas. We could have wrapped the mesh around the entire garden, but only the hostas tend to get eaten so we only used it around those. If you do decide wrap an entire garden, push some bamboo steaks into the ground at equal intervals to act as a support to wrap the copper around. It’s easier to wrap the hostas first thing in the spring when they are just peaking through the earth. You can also do it this time of year, but you’ll probably need another set of hands to hold back the foliage while you wind the mesh around the base and secure it. We dug a shallow trench around each plant and buried the mesh below the soil so that nothing could sneak down under it. We pinched the ends together and crimp them closed; that seemed to hold them in place all season last year. UPDATE: hubs’ friend read this post and suggested that she has used copper pennies to combat slugs. Unfortunately pennies are no longer being minted in Canada, but if you have some kicking around they may be worth a try too!
We LOVE how the hostas look at the side of our house in the spring and summer months:
Saving our hostas make us feel like superheros and now we get to enjoy our them hole-free through the entire season (which sadly isn’t too long in Canada)!
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