The Wildlife Trusts and RHS ask gardeners to make friends with molluscs

The Wildlife Trusts and Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) are joining forces to challenge the negative perception surrounding slugs and snails in gardens across the UK. The ‘Making Friends with Molluscs’ campaign, which starts today, aims to encourage gardeners to reconsider the role of these often-maligned creatures in their garden ecosystems.

Slugs and snails have long been viewed as a gardener’s greatest foe, but this reputation isn't wholly deserved. There are around 150 species of slugs and snails in the UK, and only a small fraction of these pose problems for gardeners. The majority contribute positively to the garden ecosystem in a number of ways. By learning to appreciate and coexist with these creatures, gardeners can adopt a more environmentally friendly approach to gardening.

While they may not be as valued as earthworms, slugs and snails provide several important services in our green spaces. One of their most significant roles is as nature’s clean-up crew; molluscs feed on rotting plants, fungi, dung and even carrion, helping to recycle nitrogen and other nutrients and minerals back into the soil. They can also clean algae off the glass of greenhouses, leaving behind their trademark trails.

Many of our much-loved garden visitors, including frogs, song thrushes, and ground beetles, rely on slugs and snails as a key food source. They also make up part of a hedgehog’s diet. By supporting these molluscs, gardeners indirectly support a diverse array of wildlife. In addition, territorial slugs, such as leopard slugs, can be helpful in warding off other species of slug and therefore protecting plants from grazing.

Follow these five tips to live harmoniously alongside slugs and snails:

  • Provide shelter: Create habitats for slugs and snails by leaving log piles, mulch, and natural debris in garden areas. These spaces offer shelter and a food source for these creatures, and it may make them less likely to venture out into your vegetable bed.
  • Selective planting: Choose plants that are less attractive to slugs and snails or are more resilient to their feeding habits, such as lavender, rosemary, astrantia, hardy geraniums, hellebores and hydrangeas.
  • Barriers: Implement barriers – such as copper tape and wool pellets – which may provide some protection for vulnerable plants from slug and snail damage.
  • Handpick and monitor: Regularly inspect plants for signs of slug and snail damage, and manually remove any you find, relocating them to your compost heap or areas with less vulnerable plants. Consider evening patrols with a torch, as slugs and snails are most active at night-time.
  • Encourage predators: Create a haven for natural predators of slugs and snails, such as ground beetles, song thrushes, frogs, and toads, by providing suitable habitats, such as long grass, log piles and wildlife-friendly ponds. Predators help to naturally regulate slug and snail populations, keeping their numbers in balance.

Helen Bostock, RHS Senior Wildlife Specialist, says:

“The RHS wants everyone to help protect the plants, animals and fungi that benefit our gardens and protect the wider environment. While a small number of slugs and snails can cause damage to certain plants, overall they bring many benefits to the garden and contribute to a balanced ecosystem, whether that’s by clearing away rotting vegetation or providing a vital food source for more popular garden visitors such as frogs, hedgehogs and song thrushes. We hope that by highlighting the crucial work that molluscs do in our gardens we can help give them a well-deserved reputation makeover.”

Kathryn Brown, Director of Climate Change and Evidence, The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“I have always welcomed snails and slugs in my garden; they play such an important role in maintaining natural functionality. Many of them are detritivores, consuming dead plants, animals and fungi, recycling nutrients back into the soil and creating nutritious compost, great for growing vegetables, fruit and flowers.

“The Wildlife Trusts want everyone to avoid using pesticides which can indiscriminately harm other creatures too. You can grow a range of plants that snails and slugs tend to not eat, such as onions and hardy herbs, instead of trying to control them. These marvellous molluscs help to enrich and aerate the soil, and they’re also a great food source for other incredible animals such as newts and beetles.”

For more information on the benefits of slugs and snails in gardens, download a free copy of the Making friends with molluscs guide. The public can find it on the charities’ joint Wild About Gardens website: from Thursday 14th March.


Notes to editors


Hannah Mattison [email protected] or the media team at [email protected]

Gina Miller [email protected] or the RHS Press Office at [email protected]


You are welcome to use the images in this Dropbox. Please note that these are for one off use only in connection with this story, The Wildlife Trusts and RHS. All photographers must be credited.

Wild About Gardens

Every year the RHS and The Wildlife Trusts lead a new campaign to inspire people to garden for wildlife. See

The Wildlife Trusts

The Wildlife Trusts are making the world wilder and helping to ensure that nature is part of everyone’s lives. We are a grassroots movement of 46 charities with more than 910,000 members and 39,000 volunteers. No matter where you are in Britain, there is a Wildlife Trust inspiring people and saving, protecting and standing up for the natural world. With the support of our members, we care for and restore over 2,600 special places for nature on land and run marine conservation projects and collect vital data on the state of our seas. Every Wildlife Trust works within its local community to inspire people to create a wilder future – from advising thousands of landowners on how to manage their land to benefit wildlife, to our work on Coronation Gardens for Food and Nature which hopes to enthuse millions of people to grow their own food in wildlife-friendly gardens.

About the RHS

Since our formation in 1804, the RHS has grown into the UK’s leading gardening charity, touching the lives of millions of people. Perhaps the secret to our longevity is that we’ve never stood still. In the last decade alone we’ve taken on the largest hands-on project the RHS has ever tackled by opening the new RHS Garden Bridgewater in Salford, Greater Manchester, and invested in the science that underpins all our work by building RHS Hilltop – The Home of Gardening Science.

We have committed to being net positive for nature and people by 2030. We are also committed to being truly inclusive and to reflect all the communities of the UK.

Across our five RHS gardens we welcome more than three million visitors each year to enjoy over 34,000 different cultivated plants. Events such as the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show, other national shows, our schools and community work, and partnerships such as Britain in Bloom, all spread the shared joy of gardening to wide-reaching audiences.

Throughout it all we’ve held true to our charitable core – to encourage and improve the science, art and practice of horticulture –to share the love of gardening and the positive benefits it brings. 

For more information visit  

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.