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If you’re just as passionate about fauna as you are flora, there’s no better site than frogs in your garden. Enticing amphibians to your outdoor space is a fantastic way to connect with nature, support the ecosystem, and create a more harmonious environment. Not only are frogs fascinating creatures to observe, but they also help to control pests and act as natural pollinators.
Sadly, frog populations are declining throughout the UK due to habitat loss and pollution. But by creating a frog-friendly garden, you can help to reverse this trend and contribute to their conservation. In this article, I will share some tips and tricks I’ve learned to attract frogs, so you can contribute to preserving our natural world. Let’s hop right in!
Creating a frog-friendly environment
To create a frog-friendly garden, you should mimic their natural habitat. A pond or water feature is an obvious big plus, but if you don’t have that luxury, fret not: there are plenty of other ways to create a suitable environment for frogs.
Before grabbing your shovel, you should eliminate pesticides and other harmful chemicals from your garden. Frogs and toads breathe and drink through their skin, so using chemicals is fatal. Instead, opt for organic gardening techniques, build healthy soil, and use companion planting and crop rotation.
Secondly, frogs and toads prefer damp, shady areas where they can hide from predators and escape the sun’s heat. So, I like to create shelter by arranging stones into a small, cave-like house, or use a clay flowerpot turned upside down, leaving enough space for the frog or toad to slip inside. Remember to place the shelter in a quiet area.
Next, try placing several shallow water containers in the shade near the shelter. Frogs and toads absorb moisture into their bodies by sitting in water, so having a source nearby is crucial. You should rinse the containers out at least once a week and fill them with fresh water.
What plants do frogs like?
I’ve found that certain plants have a knack for enticing amphibians to my garden. The best ones typically tick three boxes — they provide a habitat, food, and shelter.
I recommend planting native species as a starting point. Native plants adapt to your local climate and soil, making them more resilient and attractive to wildlife. They also provide food for insects that frogs and toads prey on, such as snails, slugs, snails, caterpillars, flies and millipedes. Some great native plants that have worked well for me include:
- Coneflowers: These perennials are easy to grow and provide a great source of nectar for pollinators, which, in turn, attract insects. And where there are insects, there are frogs. They also have long-lasting blooms that produce big splashes of colour in summer.
- Goldenrod: This native wildflower is another decent food source. Goldenrod is also very hardy and easy to grow, making it an excellent choice for novice gardeners.
- Swamp milkweed: Native to wetland areas, swamp milkweed serves up heaps of nectar. No wonder it acts as a host plant for the monarch butterfly, an important pollinator.
- Wild Columbine: Frogs love these delicate, bell-shaped flowers. They also self-seed, which means they’ll keep coming back year after year.
In addition to these native plants, you might consider planting a few non-native species that frogs and toads enjoy. For example, daylilies and hostas offer shelter and plenty of moisture. It’s all about creating places for frogs to hide, so compost heaps, burrows and hibernacula also work brilliantly.
Consider adding a variety of groundcovers, too, such as clover, which grants a cool and moist environment for frogs. Groundcovers are also a great hiding place for small insects. Throw a few shrubs and trees into the mix for amphibians to perch on, and you’ll have created an irresistible environment.
If you’ve got the space and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, a water feature is one of the most effective ways to attract frogs and toads to your garden. Ponds are significant for amphibians, as they offer essential breeding grounds.
To create the perfect pond, choosing an area in your garden that gets partial sun and partial shade is essential. Found a spot? Dig a hole around 60cm deep. Make sure to include a shallow sloping area at least on one side so frogs can enter and exit safely. If your pond has steep sides, you can always add a ramp or stepping stones to help them get in and out. If you don’t have the space to build a full-sized pond, mini ponds made from sinks or other large containers can work just as well.
Where I see many gardeners go wrong is that they neglect their pond’s surrounding habitat. So, don’t forget to create cover around the pond edges with plants, rocks, and vegetation—frogs will use this as shelter. It will also help to keep the water clean by reducing algae buildup. And before you ask, you can’t introduce fish to your pond—they love to eat frogspawn and tadpoles!
Keeping your garden safe for frogs
You should always let frogs and toads come to your pond naturally. So, resist the temptation to bring amphibians from other sites, as this can spread disease and disturb the delicate balance of your garden’s ecosystem. Amphibians are great at finding suitable gardens for themselves, so just sit back and wait for them to discover your space.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind when creating a safe, inviting habitat for frogs:
- Avoid using pesticides: frogs have permeable skin that readily absorbs chemicals, making them sensitive to pesticides and other harmful substances. Using natural, organic methods to control pests will help keep your frog friends safe.
- Keep pets under control: dogs and cats are dangerous to frogs. If you have pets, consider keeping them on a leash or installing a fence around your pond to prevent them from disturbing the habitat.
- Don’t disturb the habitat: frogs are sensitive to changes in their environment, so avoiding disruptions is essential. Refrain from sudden changes or adding new objects to the area they frequent without consideration. When cleaning a pond or trimming plants, do so gently.
- Provide plenty of cover: frogs need places to hide and rest during the day, so you’ll want adequate cover. As we discussed earlier, you can do this using plants, rocks, and other natural features.
Creating a frog-friendly garden is a simple way to do your bit by enhancing the biodiversity of your area. Incorporating native plants, water features, and safe habitats for frogs can provide them with a much-needed refuge from our rapidly changing world. By making small changes in your garden, you can ensure their conservation.