How to Attract Toads to Your Garden

Updated on January 27, 2020
OldRoses profile image

Caren White is a Master Gardener and instructor at Home Gardeners School. She has been associated with Rutgers Gardens for over a decade.


I love finding toads in my garden. It means that my soil is healthy and bugs won’t be bothering my plants.

What are Toads?

Toads (Bufo bufo) are just another kind of frog! Scientists don’t even make a distinction between the two, referring to both as frogs. Non-scientists like myself think of them as two different animals. Frogs are slimy and spend their lives in and around water whereas toads have dry skin and spend most of their lives on land, returning to water to breed and lay their eggs.

Both are amphibians. Amphibians are animals that start out their lives in water as tadpoles. Tadpoles breathe through gills like fish and cannot survive on land. As they mature into adults, they develop lungs so that they can breathe air and legs so that they can get around on land.

Why Do I Want Toads in My Garden?

One simple fact should convince you that you need these creatures in your garden: toads consume up to 3,000 insects per month. Their diet includes beetles, flies, mosquitoes, cockroaches, caterpillars, cutworms, moths, slugs and snails.

Why Does Having Toads Mean That Your Yard is Healthy?

In 1989, the first World Congress of Herpetology was held. Herpetology is just a fancy word for the study of reptiles and amphibians. The attendees made a dismaying discovery. Amphibians are disappearing all over the world at a rapid rate.

No one is sure exactly why we are losing our amphibian population. One theory is that because they have very thin skins, they absorb chemicals in the environment very easily. All of the herbicides and insecticides that we are spraying on our yards and farms are killing amphibians as well as the intended plant and insect targets. This could also explain why there are so many deformities being observed in the amphibian population. Environmental toxins may be causing birth defects in tadpoles.

I am an organic gardener. I don’t use any chemicals or poisons. So a healthy toad population in my yard means that the environment in my yard is healthy.

How to Attract Toads to Your Garden

There are three steps you should take to attract toads to your garden:

  • Provide shelter
  • Provide water
  • Plant the right plants

A broken flower pot can provide shelter for a toad.
A broken flower pot can provide shelter for a toad. | Source

Provide Shelter

The most important thing that you can do to attract toads to your yard is to stop using chemicals. The second most important thing that you can do is to provide shelter. Toads are nocturnal. They hide in a protected shady spot during the day. When the sun goes down, the toads come out and feast on insects.

Stop cleaning up all of the debris in your garden. The leaf and litter debris provides natural shelter. If you can’t stand looking at a messy garden, sweep the debris to an inconspicuous corner of your yard. Plants with large leaves also make good shelters.

You can provide artificial shelter using an old broken flower pot. Simply place it upside down in a shady spot. It should have an opening large enough for the toad to enter and exit comfortably. If it doesn’t have an opening, prop it up on a stone so that the toad can shelter underneath.

Toads start out as tadpoles.
Toads start out as tadpoles. | Source

Provide Water

If you have a garden pond or want to install one, depth is important. It should be no deeper than 20 inches and no shallower than 8 inches. Install water plants that are native to your area. Toads lay their eggs in strands which they attach to water plants. You will also need to install some sort of ramp for them to be able to get out of the pond once they have hopped in. A simple slab of rock is sufficient.

The bottom should be mud. Tadpoles filter feed through the mud looking for algae and other water organisms. Don’t introduce fish to your pond. They will eat both the eggs and the tadpoles.

If you just want to provide drinking water, you can use a shallow saucer. Toads don’t drink water. They submerge themselves in it and absorb the water through their thin skins. Make sure your saucer is deep enough for them to submerge themselves but not so deep that they cannot get out.

Plant the Right Plants

Certain plants are poisonous for toads. Avoid planting snowpeas, rhubarb, eggplant or potatoes near shelter and water. Flowers that are toxic include daffodils, hyacinths, azaleas, hydrangeas and honeysuckle. Toads will avoid them.

Be Careful After Dark When Toads are Active

Toads are nocturnal but they are attracted to the lights in your yard and home. They know those lights will attract insects. Be careful where you step at night. Always check around your car before driving it. Driveways are killing fields for toads. I’ll never forget how upset my family was when my father accidentally ran over Ol’ One Eye, the one eyed toad. He was in a rush and forgot to check the driveway before backing up his car. Ol’ One Eye had lived in our yard for many years. Toads can live as long as 15 years.

They also hibernate undergrund during the winter. So each spring, pile up some garden debris from your fall cleanup and put out a saucer of water to let the toads know that they are welcome in your garden where they will provide you with years of free insect control.

Questions & Answers

  • We saw a toad under the leaves of some yarrow in my garden and built a toad neighborhood the next day. We haven't seen the toad in a few days. Is there any way to sleuth around and find clues that the toad has stayed in our garden?

    I'm not sure what you mean by a "toad neighborhood". From the toad's point of view, you have disrupted his home under the yarrow. The best thing that you can do is to stay away for a few days. Do not disturb anything and hopefully, the toad will return. If not, he or she is probably not far away in a different part of your yard or garden. Be patient. Wild animals are shy around humans.

© 2017 Caren White


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)