Frogs Are Good For Your Garden

Frogs and toads are some of nicest critters you can attract in your garden as they can improve it great deal. They have true and undeniable value but are threatened by the constant increase of urbanization. Their habitats are shrinking at an alarming rate and thus reducing their chance of survival.

frogs and toads in your garden

So why not take steps in inviting them in your garden today? For one thing, they are amazing pest control predators. They feed on insects, such as cutworms, caterpillars, sow bugs and many more that can do harm to your garden. There have been reports of entire gardens destroyed by these bugs for a single night, and anything that can help prevent that from happening is to be loved and preferred over other animals. A single frog can eat over a hundred harmful insects a day, which is really a lot and enough in most cases to help you control this threat.

In order to ensure that frogs can perform their duty, you will need to create a suitable habitat for them. During the day, they like to sit under shady and cool areas, such as under trees and other high plants. There are many solutions that can be implemented in your garden which will offer not only proper shelter for frogs, but will also give your garden an innovative look. These animals also require water, so a pond of some sort is needed. Many professional and reliable gardeners share the opinion that there is nothing quite like having a garden pond in your backyard. It needs to have shallow edges to allow the amphibians to enter and leave as they please.

Toads and frogs can be a garden’s best friend and save you the need to spray with pesticides and other chemicals to protect from insects. If you like the calming and sometimes gentle sound of frogs, then smile the next time you see one in your garden.

Guest blog by Ella Andrews


Frog Gifts for the Holidays 2012

One of our favorite posts is the annual Frogs Are Green frog gifts holiday extravaganza. What could be more fun that picking and choosing fun frog gifts for the holidays? Click on the pictures below to connect to the sites (Pier 1, Amazon, Target, and so on). Enjoy!

Little Stuff

Frog Mug (Pier 1)

Toad Abode (Pier 1)

Toads in your garden will consume all sorts of pesky insects. They need a shallow pond and some shelter to thrive, so set this colorful ceramic toad house near the habitat and wait. It may take a year, but your yard will soon be hoppin’.

Frog Egg Timer (Amazon)

Susan gave me one of these and I use it every day. So much more fun than your usual boring egg timer.

For the Youngest Frog Lovers

Toddler Blanket Sleeper (Amazon)

Plush Frog (Amazon)

It was tough picking out my favorite stuffed frog, but I liked this one. One of the reviewers on Amazon said, “This little frog is adorable and very well-made. My baby has loved it since he first saw it in his Easter basket at 6 months old. He sleeps with it, sucks on it, flings it around, hits the side of his crib with it, etc. It’s been washed many times and still looks new. Best of all, it’s a safe toy as the eyes are stitching, not beads or buttons. It’s small and travels well.”

For Kids

What kid can resist frog rain boots? Just perfect for a rainy day.

Kids’ Rain Boots (Target)

A Frog Book (Target)

It’s Bertha’s day to try out for the prestigious frog choir, but when she sings…the other frogs cover their ears!

For Adults

Women’s Rain Boots (Target)

Who said only kids can enjoy splashing in puddles in frog rain boots?

Armchair Learning—Kids and Adults

How about learning to identify some frogs this winter before spring comes?

300 Frogs (Barnes and Noble)

Enjoy the holidays!


Creating a Wildlife- and Eco-friendly Backyard

Each spring at Frogs Are Green, we try to encourage people to create backyards (or gardens, if you’re English) that are friendly to wildlife and the environment, water-wise, and easy to maintain without using herbicides and pesticides.

Imitate Nature

It is possible to create a wildlife friendly garden without using pesticides and herbicides, but you’ll need to mimic nature a bit and do some detective work to find out what types of plants and flowers flourish in your area. Sometimes you don’t even need to plant these natives—they may migrate to your backyard, and if you like them, you can find a place for them. This happened with me—a native fern migrated over to my yard and it is quite beautiful. Over the years, the ferns have spread and make a nice ground cover. That doesn’t mean you need to restrict yourself to native plants. My New Guinea impatiens obviously are not native to New Jersey, but I definitely try to fit in a number of low-maintenance native plants.

In my first years of gardening, I had to water my backyard every day with a hose to keep it alive. Now with a backyard filled with lots of native plants, I only water the potted plants.

Survival of the Fittest

After several years, I’ve realized that I can’t plant hostas—they’re like candy to slugs. Rather than spend money and effort, and possibly introduce toxins to the soil, to get rid of the slugs, I now keep the hostas in pots, above the ground, and then periodically lift the pots to check for any slugs. (Yes, I tried the tuna can full of beer method to get rid of slugs, but they didn’t fall for that trick.)

Since I don’t have much sun in my urban backyard, I don’t plant sun-loving annuals anymore. These flowers didn’t flourish and so seemed to attract disease and bugs. Have you tried some flowers that didn’t quite make it, or if they did, required a lot of watering or pesticides to maintain them? You may have found that other plants just seem to do great year after year without much attention. In my garden, potted geraniums seem to do well, lasting all the way through until frost, even without a lot of sun or attention. Even though they’re not the most exotic flowers, I have lots of them in interesting colors.

Courtesy of Sierra Club (New York)


I put out seed for the birds, although around this time of year in late spring, I start to cut down on bird seed. I put out water for them in a bird bath as well, and I sometimes also notice bees dipping into the bird bath. Because I don’t use herbicides or pesticides, I am not unintentionally killing off good insects—bees, lady bugs, etc. or potentially harming other animals like songbirds.

Build a Frog Pond

We don’t have any amphibians in my city (that I know of), but if you have amphibians in your area, put out a toad abode to keep these local insect-eating amphibians happy.

It’s also possible to create a frog pond relatively easily without a huge expense or effort. My sister put in a frog pond by her house in Connecticut, and on one summer day, she counted eighteen frogs enjoying her pond, including one frog who jumped up and sat right beside her on the garden bench. Here’s how she did it:

She dug out a base that was 4 feet by 7 feet, about 2 feet deep. On each corner, she created a shelf, 1 foot deep, for aquatic plants.

She bought pond liner from a garden center, a piece larger than the pond (so it was 12 feet long by 9 feet wide) and put stones down to hold it in place. She also piled smaller stones in one corner that came just above the water as a ramp for the frogs to get in and out of the pond.

She also added water flowers with leaves and lily pads. These plants act as filters for the pond (and, of course, our froggy friends like to sit on them).

She put in a pump to circulate the water (with an outdoor extension cord buried in ground to house).

She notes that the pond should be cleaned out every year. Take out the water, but be careful if there are frogs eggs in the pond. Put the eggs in a clean bowl with pond water before putting back in the pond. Also, she did not add the frogs to the pond—they migrated to her pond from another small pond on her property. Don’t introduce non-native frogs to your pond as they could disrupt the local ecology and introduce disease to native frogs

Please send us your ideas for creating a natural backyard and if you have some pictures, send them along and we’ll add them to our backyard gallery (see the photo gallery in our sidebar to the right).

Here is more information about your having your backyard certified as a Wildlife Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.


Creating a wildlife-friendly backyard

As Susan and I are hosting family and friends, we are reposting a couple of our favorite or most popular posts this week. We have edited the posts for the season or to update some material. Enjoy and hope you’re having a great summer!

It’s that time of the summer when we’re spending a lot of time in our backyards tending gardens that by now might have become out of control. Sometimes we spray and clip in a vain attempt to keep nature at bay and to make everything look tidy.

I read an interesting article in The Independent (UK) , “Why Untidy Gardens Make the Best Habitat for Wildlife.” My in-laws live in England and “garden” more or less means the same as “backyard” to Americans, though most English yards have a flower border. British readers, please correct me if I’m wrong!

Anyway, the article points out that town and city gardens provide a vital refuge for birds, insects, and other animals, including amphibians. Small gardens are as good as large gardens, urban gardens as important as suburban ones, and non-native plants are not always harmful to birds and insects.

Both city and suburban backyards can provide what Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson calls “bridges” between protected areas, providing refuges for wildlife. These bridges serve as a vital corridor, for example, for amphibians, migrating songbirds, and other animals.

My city backyard, in a densely populated small city, falls into the category of “untidy.” I have a lax attitude as to what I allow to grow in it, including a Norway maple, which no one in my family likes. They claim it’s taking over the tiny backyard, which is true. Yet the tree also draws lots of birds. I have vines growing up walls that provide places for birds to hide in, and I have a birdbath. I don’t use pesticides or herbicides.

Mourning Dove in Mary Jo's Backyard

What I’ve noticed is that every year I am getting more and more animal visitors, and a greater variety, too. This year in addition to sparrows and mourning doves, I’ve seen cardinals, robins, and other songbirds. In the fall, I have bird visitors that eat the grapes on my grape vine, swooping down almost the same week each year.

You don’t have to do much to make your backyard a wildlife habitat. Just don’t be too neat—don’t hurry to clear up everything when the garden stops flowering. Some of this “debris” is important for wildlife to hide in or to eat.

Of course, I realize that some animals are pests and steps have to be taken to keep them out. When we’re in New Hampshire, we need to use special bear-resistant garbage cans. Some parts of the country have real problems with deer.

But I think we should try to give a helping hand to those animals and insects that need these wildlife bridges—amphibians, birds, honey bees, and so on.

Here are some more tips for fall planting from the Independent article:

  • plant large shrubs—shrubs and trees produce more vegetation where wildlife can live and eat
  • allow at least some flowers to turn to seed and let the lawn grow tall.
  • create a pond for insects and frogs, or buy or make a toad abode
  • don’t illuminate your garden/backyard at night with bright lights. This will disturb many nocturnal creatures
  • create a compost heap—they are miniature nature reserves in themselves.

See also the National Wildlife Foundation‘s site about gardening for wildlife and about what you need to do to get your yard recognized as a Certified Wildlife Habitat.

Other tips:

  • Put out a bird bath. I enjoy watching birds splash in it every morning.
  • Put out bird feeders. Yes, the squirrels eat the seed, but mostly birds eat it. I buy a big bag of wild bird seed at the supermarket.

Update: After this post ran (10/09), we got lots of interesting comments, so we asked people to send in pictures of their wild backyards. These photos are still up (see gallery). We’d love to receive pictures of your wild backyard and are looking for guest posts about how to create a wild backyard.