An electric fence for slugs and snails

What fights off slugs and snails and what doesn't?

To get right down to it: Almost everything you can find on the internet to stop slugs and snails from eating up your garden either works a little or doesn't work at all.

We know, we tried them all.

In the end, we found only one thing that really works: a little electric fence. Since we couldn't find a good one on the market, we made it ourselves:

Electric fence for slugs and snails fastened to the planter
Made for anyone whose raised beds are taken over by slugs and snails.

It gives slugs and snails a shock. But you, your kids, and pets won't feel a thing.

NB! - Unfortunately, the slug fence is sold out.

A lot of people found the assembly too complicated, so we're improving the design and working on a new version.

The process has turned out to be a bit more challenging than we thought, so it'll be a while before we can offer it in the shop: end of 2021 at the earliest.

Sorry about that. As much as we'd like to, we can't speed things up. We are working hard to make the best slug fence we can. 

Why make a slug fence of all things?

Planty Garden's goal is to remove the cons of growing your own food, so only the pros are left. And we got pretty far: 

  • You only need a small amount of space, thanks to the square-foot-gardening system and handy raised beds
  • With our special soil, everything grows well: from lettuce to tomatoes
  • You don't need any experience: the app helps you every step of the way
  • There is no heavy lifting. And it will take you almost no time to maintain.
The planty app shows you exactly when to grow what

So, actually there was just one thing left to drive Planty Gardeners crazy: slugs. Or snails. (Okay, two things.) 🐌🐌🐌

Slugs 'n Snails

And yeah, for 80% of Planty Gardeners, snails are not that big of an issue.

A balcony garden usually won't have slugs. And in a city garden maybe a few. You'd have to pick them off now and then.

If there are more than a few, there are plenty of home remedies on my website that can help you limit the damage.

But then, there's...

The Slug Zone

Yup, the other 20% of Planty Gardeners live in slug zones.

Like my parents. Their garden is in the middle of an orchard. During the growing season, full slug armies are born there.

The Planty garden grows tall and strong
Unfortunately, our raised beds are right in the midst of it.

In slug zones, you spend 90% of the time in your Planty Garden trying to keep slugs and snails out of your beds.

And that's no fun.

There Was Almost No Hope

Really, I tried everything.

Spiked barriers: They climbed right over them.

Slugs climb over spikes into the planter
Nematodes: These little worm-like parasites eat slugs from the inside. You have to pour them over your soil every 6 weeks: both in the beds and outside. That's a lot of effort, and the costs add up.

Copper tape around the raised bed: also expensive and all for nothing.

Organic slug pellets: they help a little, but the slugs still ate my plants even when there was still plenty of pellets on the menu.

Plus all the home remedies I mentioned before.

Do-It-Yourself Slug Fence

A few years back, I came across a possible solution online: An electric fence for snails.

This was it: You connect a 9-volt battery to two copper wires around your bed. As soon as the snail touches both wires, it gets a little shock and turns around.

It looked simple enough, but wow. In practice, it was a hassle. 

But after some blood, sweat, and lots of staples - I finally did it.

And guess what? Those &$#%!-critters are so smart that they zig-zagged between the wires. They only touched one wire at a time. So. No shock. The slugs just shimmied through.

And after a while, the copper stopped conducting enough electricity. You can see the remains:

Jelle's DIY slug fence falling apart

Yeah, I know. It's not pretty.

The only ready-made slug fence I could find cost € 150, and was even uglier than the thing I made myself. 😕

Time for the Big Guns

I couldn't let it go. A Planty Garden should be fun for everyone. So, I went to a company that specialized in inventing new products. I asked them to make something that would keep the snails out of the veggie raised bed once and for all.

developing the electric fence with designers

It was hilarious. Smart designers and techies who usually make coffee machines and digital stuff, were now working on a solution for our Planty Gardening community. How cool is that? They thought it was super fun too.

Their bill was no joke, but drastic slugs call for drastic measures ...😄

Bumps Along the Way

By the way, it wasn't all smooth sailing. The first prototype had 2 wires close to each other, to prevent the slug from zig-zagging through.

That seemed to work, until this nimble snail found its way over: backward.

Snail slides backward over the electric snail fence prototye

Extra Wires

The next step was to use 4 instead of 2 electric wires. That was a breakthrough. Four wire formed -at last- an impregnable barrier for any slug or snail:

Attaching it to the Raised Bed

The final challenge was mounting it onto the raised bed. 

I'd given up on staples. Trying to staple 2 wires onto the bed so that they don't touch is just nuts, let alone 4. 

So we made special corner pieces that you thread the electrical wires through.

In Short: We. Solved. Everything.

Well, everything slug-related. You just screw our MM-Slug Fence onto your bed and it stops all the slugs and snails in their tracks.

It's now a ready-to-use little package:

Product slug fence NL
It comes with:

  • Electrical housing unit (a water-proof home for the battery)
  • 9-volt battery
  • Electric fence
  • Wires pieces
  • Screws attach it to your raised bed
  • And a clear manual
You only have to install it once - that will cost you at most an hour - and then you're set. For years. The materials stay good a long time and the battery needs changing just 1x per year.

How Much?

The price is € 49 and you need 1 for each raised bed.

Is it expensive? That's your call.

The first prototypes were installed on two of my raised bed in April. And what a difference:

Planter with the slug fence

What a difference:

Planter without slug fence
Seriously, I prefer 2 raised beds with the slug fence to 4 without. Because:

  • All your seedlings and small plants remain standing
  • They grow up faster and healthier when they don't have to deal with snail bites
  • Your harvest looks beautiful. No holes, just lush vegetables.
In short: faster growth, bigger harvest, and 10x less stress.

Do You Need This?

Well, only if you have a lot of slugs. If that's not the case, my other tips will help.

Besides, you can always get the slug fence later. If all else fails. 😉

Share Your Thoughts

If you order the slug fence and mount it on your bed, I would love to hear what you think. 

Maybe you have a suggestion that can make the next version even better. Let me know!

And thanks in advance!

Jelle signature

More Info

Does the slug fence fit all beds?

The wires are long enough for a vegetable garden bed with an outer circumference of 5.5 meters. That is more than enough for our 120 x 120 raised beds, with or without legs.

For larger planters, you'll need an extension set. This will be in the shop soon, but send us an email if you want it now.

How does it work exactly?

Check out the manual. (Coming soon in English)

An instructional video is in the making.

How long does the battery last?

Usually, the whole season. The battery drains faster if the wires are activated for a long period of time: then you get a short circuit.

Can you see if the battery is still working or if there is a short circuit?

Yes: on the casing is a green LED light that lights up every 5 seconds when everything is going well. It flickers when the battery is low. If the 2 middle wires touch each other, then you've got a short circuit and the light turns red.

Do children or animals also feel a shock when they touch the wires?

No, you won't feel anything, and neither will your kids or cats. Slugs and snails feel the shock because of their slime (which conducts electricity). Unfortunately, other non-slimy pests like woodlice don't feel the shock.

Will the cute snails die?

Nope. The shock is enough to scare the slugs and snails but it will not kill them. After a few tries, they give up and turn around.

And what do you do about those snails already in your raised bed?

You have to catch them. Put a dish with chicken feed or breadcrumbs in the bed, they love it.

The slugs in chicken feed
Check at night and in the morning if you see slugs or snails there. Then pick 'em up and take them out of your raised bed.

Put the dish in a different place every day. After 3 days or so you will probably catch them all.