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Attracting Frogs and Toads to Your Garden

Author:

Kerry loves to write about gardening, nutrition, sustainability, and entertainment.

Frog in a pond. Photo by Noël Zia Lee.

Frog in a pond. Photo by Noël Zia Lee.

Frogs and toads are tremendously beneficial to gardeners and anyone who loves to spend any time outside. They eat thousands of insect pests, including mosquitoes and flies. (A single adult toad can eat as many as 10,000 insects every summer.) They will also fill the air with their (generally) relaxing songs, and be interesting and well-behaved neighbors to have around, especially if any of your children are budding naturalists.

Unfortunately, frog and toad populations are in decline around the world due to habitat loss and their extreme susceptibility to pollution. They breathe and drink through their skins, so both air and water pollution affects them directly. Water pollution, in particular, has led to a growing incidence of bizarre and terrible mutations in aquatic frogs, most commonly in the form of deformed and/or extra limbs.

You can give frogs and toads a helping hand by providing a safe haven for them in your garden.

Go Organic

One of the single most important things you can do to welcome frogs and toads into your yard is to go organic. Chemical pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides can all poison them.

Instead of spraying poisons to kill insect pests, let the frogs and toads take care of them! If you stop using pesticides, a host of other hungry wildlife, including birds and beneficial insects such as ladybugs and dragonflies, will also move into the area, eager to munch on any pests that show up.

Organic methods of soil improvement can also help you eliminate your need for fertilizers and herbicides.

Provide Water

Water is extremely important for amphibians and you can't attract them without it. If you have a wild pond nearby, you're in luck. Convincing a few frogs to pop over for a visit sometimes should not be difficult at all.

If you don't have a pond nearby, you may still be able to attract toads with a shallow basin of water that you keep filled regularly in spring, summer, and fall.

However, the best choice is to build a pond. The ideal pond would include plenty of shallows for toads to rest and breed in, a deep area of at least two meters for overwintering, and plenty of vegetation (preferably native to your area) around the edges to hide out in. Frogs really do like lily pads! Provide shallow (not steep) edges so they can easily climb in and out, or add a couple of logs, partly in and partly out of the water. Both frogs and toads will also really appreciate some rocks around the edges for sunning themselves.

American Toad. Photo by Steve Beger Photography.

American Toad. Photo by Steve Beger Photography.

Provide Shelter

Toads will appreciate a pile of large, stacked rocks with plenty of crevices and cavities to provide a cool, safe place to hide from predators and hot summer days. Toads also like to burrow down into soft, moist dirt under logs and boards.

You can also purchase a toad house. These come in many attractive designs and many toads seem to love them. If possible, try to find a house with two doors to provide an escape route in case the house is discovered by predators. Snakes are a threat to frogs and toads, and domestic animals such as cats and dogs will sometimes attack them.

The most common reason toad houses go unused is their size. Many toad houses simply aren't big enough for the local toad population to get through the door! For example, adult females of Bufo americanus, one of the most common species of toads throughout the eastern United States, can get up to four inches wide!

An overturned terra cotta flower pot, either propped up with a large rock or with a doorway broken into the side, also works fine.

They also appreciate plenty of loose leaf litter left under bushes and in other shaded, cool, moist areas. Not only does leaf litter provide shelter and camouflage, but it is also a one-stop amphibian buffet. Some frogs and toads also overwinter underneath piles of leaves. The heat of decomposition keeps them from freezing to death.

More Tips

  • Practice Window Well Safety: Toads sometimes become trapped in window wells and die. Prop a log or 2x4 in your window wells to act as a ladder for them to escape.
  • Turn on the Lights: Lights will attract night-flying insects . . . and toads! Our toads figured out how to set off the motion sensor light above our garage door and spend many happy summer nights hopping around the driveway to keep the light on, chowing down on any insects that come near.
  • Attract Your Frogs and Toads Naturally: NEVER purchase or capture frogs or toads to release into your yard. Chances are good that they will die. Instead, follow the tips above to provide the best habitat you can and be patient. Remember, if you build it, they will come.

Further Reading

  • Toadily Toads
    The place on the web dedicated to toads. Care, information, bufo americanus care, bufo marinus information and more. Plus global amphibian crisis information.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

Jojo162 on April 17, 2012:

I don't think so because there were dead frogs in my pool and I am desease free!

nahigs on May 11, 2011:

Do frogs in swimming pools spread desease and pollute the pool.

monique stone on June 07, 2010:

omg thanks for all the info i really like frogs but don't seam to find them in my area thanks!

Gloria Siess from Wrightwood, California on April 03, 2010:

I love the toad houses! Great Hub. I just finished a Hub on the rare Arroyo Toad.

paul on August 17, 2009:

i have toads in my garden and i have a little hole in the bottom of the wall going underground the opening is about 5 inch thick i also have a little pond abuot 2ft by 1ft and a lot of slugs in my garden so that is all you need to atract toads

Cindy Letchworth from Midwest, U.S.A. on July 08, 2009:

Loved it. It's so exciting to see a frog or toad whether you are on a nature walk, or it happens to be in your back yard. Thanks for showing us ways to help these beneficial creatures.

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on June 29, 2009:

We both have ponds in our gardens. Pat has a good crowd of resident newts, and recently spotted a frog. This is after an absence of at least 2 years. used to have lots of frog spawn, but now nothing.

Your suggestion about lights at night is interesting! We both have low level solar powered lights. Nice to think they might actually help wildlife.

Steve Andrews from Lisbon, Portugal on June 29, 2009:

I love frogs and toads. One way to help get them started is by adding surplus spawn from ponds in your neighbourhood. That way when the tadpoles change into frogs and toads they will come back to your pond when they grow up.

green age from UK on June 16, 2009:

Good idea. Just look out for them when you mow your lawn! Its amazing what nature you can bring to the garden with a little tweeking...

LondonGirl from London on May 16, 2009:

My Dad dug out and re-did the main pond at my parents' house 6 years ago. He found a lot of fresh-water muscles (sp?) and since it was dug out, it's become frog-full heaven!

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on May 16, 2009:

Have always wanted to build my own pond. I guess it would have to be a big one for bull frogs - I love the sound of bullfrogs at twilight, it's like music, like cellos.