Small children often recoil when they see a bumpy-backed amphibian hopping across the yard. Many retain an automatic disgust with frogs and toads well into adulthood. For the gardener, however, frogs and toads are actually a sign of a thriving backyard ecosystem, which means it might not be such a bad idea to make space for them in your own garden. The positive contribution that they'll make will far outweigh the little jump you get when you hear the occasional “ribbit!”
Benefits of Frogs and Toads
The biggest benefit that frogs and toads have to offer is their diet, because they eat many of the insects in your yard that might otherwise overpopulate and grow out of control. These are the bugs that prompt gardeners to use a variety of pesticides, which are often effective in keeping the garden green but make it harder for other forms of life to thrive there.
If frogs are flocking to your garden, it means that there's at least some ecosystem harmony going on there, as they are bioindicators. Beyond the positive of knowing that your garden is a sound habitat for local wildlife, you also get to listen to the frogs chirp and stumble upon them when you're out planting or weeding — just another part of the joy of gardening.
Beyond doing it for the benefits they bring to your garden, caring for frogs and toads will also help stop the environmental decline that's been making it so hard for them to find proper habitats lately. The National Wildlife Federation has noted that certain species of frogs are less prevalent now, and some are even being found with deformities, which themselves are thought to be associated with chemicals in the environment. But your garden can be a safe space for them if you make it frog-friendly.
Encouraging Amphibious Inhabitants
Choose Harmonious Varieties and Maintain Local Ecosystems
One of the most effective ways to entice frogs into your yard is simply to make use of the nature that's already in it. By incorporating native plants, trees, and grasses into your garden, you essentially make it more like a native habitat — as opposed to introducing non-native or invasive species into it, most of which won’t naturally thrive in coexistence with your local wildlife.
While you can certainly dedicate sections of your garden (think raised beds) to plants that you love but that aren't native to the area, focusing your efforts on maintaining the natural environment is going to make frogs “recognize” the area a whole lot more. Plus, native plants have already adapted to thrive in your area, so you're more likely to succeed in cultivating them than you are with plants that are accustomed to entirely different rain and sun levels. It's a win for you and a win for the frogs!
While many balk at the idea of growing their favorite flowers and veggies without pesticides, its important to remember that frogs and toads make good substitutes for them: many of them eat 100 insects a day! If you absolutely need to use chemicals on your garden, research the brands that are gentlest on the environment, and use them very sparingly on exactly the plants that need them. Chemicals can build up in a garden's water systems, and because frogs and toads require lots of moisture, they are ones who are most likely to receive runoff from any high-dosage pesticide use.
Make a Friendly Water Environment or a Small Pond
Ensuring that your garden stays very moist will make frogs and toads more likely to choose it as their home. One of the best ways to encourage them is to install a small pond in it. Just make sure it contains enough water for the eggs to remain out of direct sunlight and for tadpoles to swim around and eat water plants in. Water features like these sometimes breed insects like mosquitoes, but if you manage to convince a few frogs to move in, they should make quick work of those pesky bugs.
Create Shaded Sleeping Places
The National Wildlife Federation suggests you invest in “toad abodes” to give the frogs and toads in your garden a few great hiding places. Toad abodes are simply ceramic houses built for toads to help them get out of the sun and sleep in peace, but you can make one of your own by flipping a ceramic pot upside down and making sure it's angled enough to allow a toad to scramble in and out of it.
Overall, frogs and toads add to the biodiversity of your garden and let you know that it's healthy, so it makes perfect sense to take a few steps to make your backyard a place where they feel right at home. You'll get to see and hear the vibrant sounds of their singing during the summertime, and they'll get all the moisture and shade they need to thrive in return.