Slugs & Snails

Slugs and snails are the bane of many a gardener’s existence. The disappointment of yet more disappearing seedlings after so much effort to bring them into life and all that is left is the tell-tale slimy trail. It is so demoralising.

These bronze garden tools are not a magic bullet, the definitive deterrent. But we have found that since we started using them, the amount of slug and snail damage has dramatically reduced in our garden. Many of our customers have reported that using the tools has the effect of a slug barrier – even protecting hosta plants.

On this page we include some of the feedback from users of the tools, and a possible explanation of why using them should make a difference – even when we do not leave the tools in the soil.


“We started using a copper trowel in the garden some two years ago and we have had wonderful hostas and other plants ever since. Up to that time, slugs and snails had been a major problem in the garden, with hosta leaves looking like fine lace. We still find the odd nibble on a plant but we can live with that.

“… Whatever the scientific validity of the theory, in practice the use of copper tools seems to work!”

The Hardy Plant Society Sussex Group Newsletter, Spring 2005


“..trialled in tunnels – noticed a large reduction in slugs & snails – now in 4th year.”

Handley Organics, Bromyard Herefordshire

“I have been using PKS Copper gardening tools for 6 years (I think it is that) and I really love these tools – excellent for delicate weeding with really comfortable handles and sharp ‘digging deep’ bespoke designs. I remember reading with my daughter about the Egyptians when she was young and we discovered that they also used copper for their garden tools. I highly recommend these tools and they do seem to keep the slugs and snails away too.”

Kate Doubleday (Kate has a wonderful website, by the way)

“I needed to prepare a bed for my French Beans which was weedy and had two plastic bags of leaves on it, gathered last Autumn. There were a lot of large slugs under them which I left where they were. I weeded in my usual way using an iron fork where necessary for deep rooted weeds. I then cultivated using a copper cultivator and a copper rake. This was all done on very dry soil.

“Next day I planted some Swiss Chard. The following day there was no slug damage so I planted my French Beans. This was all about 10 days ago and there is still no slug damage to be seen!”

Mike Spence, Hampshire

“As a keen veg grower cursed with slugs the size of fat mice, I was amazed to find that working the soil and
weeding with your tools really did cut down the ravages of our slimy friends but the best bonus came when I used the shovel for mixing potting compost. I own and run a small nursery, singlehanded and using as few chemicals as I can. Since using your shovel for compost mixing the health and vigour of the plants is improved and they seem less liable to attacks from slugs and snails. My customers are happy too, telling me my plants grow away strongly when planted out, much better than others bought elsewhere.”

Dinah Lindon-Critchley, Blooming Hill Plants


“I have bought from you before. I’ve experimented growing salad leaves in my clay soil and am astonished that the slugs have not decimated the crop. Hoping that weeding with a hoe will prolong the effect.”

Louise Cartledge (after ordering a hoe)

anne3Read more about the experiences of a user of our tools on Anne’s Garden Blog

… so what is going on? We think it might be to do with electricity and magnetism.

We live in the Earth’s magnetic field, which is sustained by the movement of the relatively high iron content in the Earth’s mantle. Any piece of iron can have its own magnetic field. The metal copper, on the other hand, is non-magnetic and highly electrically conductive.

Electricity, magnetism and movement form a team together. If you have two of them, the third will appear. A wind-up torch or radio has a little magnet in it. Your action of winding it up generates the electricity for it to work.

We, and all other mammals, have iron in our blood. That is why our blood is red. It enables each of us to have our own independent magnetic field, anchored on our blood. Slugs and snails do not have iron in their blood. Their blood contains haemocyanin, based on copper. This means that they do not have an independent magnetic field. As copper is conductive, they are highly sensitive to the Earth’s field. As they move along the ground, they are subject to the lines of magnetic force generated by the rotating core of the Earth.

Now, imagine that a diligent gardener has carefully transplanted their lettuce seedlings, using an iron tool. As the tool turned the soil, it left its magnetic signature. When night falls, the slugs and snails start on their slimy way, following the lines of force that they detect on the soil surface. When they reach this disturbance around the transplanted lettuces, they are forced to stop. They do not know where to go – the signal is not clear. They have to wait, and while they wait, they get hungry. And there go the lettuces. Using a copper tool leaves no magnetic disturbance, so there is nothing to attract the slimy molluscs.

This is one strand of the story. More information can be found in our booklet, the Story of Copper Garden Tools. If you have any thoughts or feedback, please phone, write or email us. 

Speculating further …

With their slimy trails and copper in their blood instead of iron, could it be that slugs and snails are like a wiring system on the earth’s surface? After all, everything has its place!