You don’t have to be a princess to love a frog – gardeners love them too. Frogs are fantastic at pest control, even eating slugs and snails, so it’s well worth making your garden a frog-friendly place.
It’s a frog’s life
As all schoolchildren know, frogs are amphibians, living both on land and in water. Female frogs lay their eggs in water in spring. These hatch into tadpoles with gills that allow them to breathe underwater. As the tadpoles mature into adult frogs, the gills disappear and they develop lungs. Around August, adult frogs leave the water and don’t return until they are old enough to mate – typically around three years later. Although frogs can’t breathe underwater, they can absorb some oxygen through their skins, which enables them to hibernate in ponds in winter. They’ll also hibernate on land, in compost heaps or log piles.
To get frogs living happily in your garden, give them somewhere damp and sheltered to live, with access to water to mate and lay eggs, then watch your slug and snail population shrink.
How to make a mini-pond
You don’t need a large garden to make a pond fit for a frog. A large shallow container, like an old sink or even a big plastic washing up bowl, will do.
- First decide where to put your pond – ideally somewhere that gets several hours of sunlight.
- Dig a hole deep enough to sink your container at least partially into the ground. Seal any drainage holes, or line it with a butyl pond liner
- Give wildlife a way to get out of your pond. Add rocks to make a shallow slope at one side or make a non-slip ramp by wrapping a wooden plank in chicken wire.
- Fill your container with rainwater and add some aquatic plants to keep the water oxygenated. Take care not to introduce invasive pondweed – always buy from reputable suppliers.
- Grow plants around the edge of your mini-pond as cover against birds and other predators.
- Now sit back and wait for the frogs to find your pond! (But don’t transfer spawn from elsewhere – this can spread disease).
How to make a frog home
As well as access to water, frogs need somewhere to live on land. To make a frog home, pick a shady, sheltered spot near water. Dig a hole about 40cm deep with a flat base, and fill it loosely with logs and rocks, leaving gaps to create tunnels for frogs to move through. Make your pile of rocks and logs high enough to create a small mound above ground, then cover the top and back of the mound with soil, making sure the entrances are clear at the front. If you want, you can plant wildflowers in the soil to provide extra cover.