My yard is very, very shady. What they call "dry shade," which means it is shaded by something like a garage that does not allow any sun at all to filter through. What isn't dry shade is under a 100-year-old maple tree. I love that tree and so does everyone who gets a look at it, especially if they sit on our patio and look up into it. But it 1) provides heavy shade, 2) it depletes nutrients from the soil, and 3) it sucks up much of the available water. It also drops a varying array of matter from helicopters to spring blossoms to other mysterious thingies, but that just looks messy and isn't a problem for growing anything.
The problems in my yard are therefore really limiting and so I grow almost nothing but a little moss under the tree, which means in most of the back yard. Not even weeds. But there are places where I can grow a hosta or two. Fortunately I really love hostas and over the years I've acquired a dozen or so "specimens," that is, fancy, unusual, (expensive) single plants.
You will see above on the left what remains of a set of three lovely plants. One was called Patriot and was mostly green with white edges. Another was called Fire and Ice, a particularly beautiful plant that was mostly white with a green edge. This third one above has/had an interestingly shaped leaf. I got all three from White Flower Farm, whose hostas, including Patriot and Fire and Ice, you can see here. I say was and had because Patriot and Fire and Ice, which were three years old, two of those years spent in my yard, were eaten to the ground by slugs. As you can see from the photo I am going to lose the third plant this year.
Above on the right is a large pot with a Japanese colt's foot plant and four hostas. You can see the mess Limax maximus has done to those plants. To the lower left is damage done to a regular (dare I say garden variety?) hosta. Most of my hostas have this kind of damage with only three or four large ones in a shape that could be described as healthy.
I have tried spreading broken egg shells, diatomacious earth, and a product called Sluggo, and I've put out many cat food cans of beer. (Our grocery list commonly has on it "gardening beer.") Only the beer works, and as you can see, it doesn't work well enough to save my plants. If you look closely in the photo at the top you can see a couple of medium-sized L maximus who have drowned in the beer overnight. Every morning I harvest from three to as many as nine medium to large slugs, some of them as long as 8 or 9 inches.You can see them in their full beauty by Googling Leopard slugs and on Wikipedia. There is a piece on the sex life of this creature on the Ever So Strange blog, but be warned, it isn't pretty.
If only I could think of a way to run an engine on slug carcases or find a market for the slimy little snail-wannabes. Meanwhile, any suggestions for getting rid of them will be gratefully received. (I'm about to try wood ashes.)