Birds and bunnies, dragonflies and damselflies, and frogs and lizards all need water for their survival. All creatures need water to live. Water is our lifeblood. The time had come for me to build a pond. Saying the word sounds like I’ve built some massive waterfront; but it’s only a hole in the ground. Calling it a pond has much better ring to it, though. The pond was added to further attract wildlife to my little plot of land.
My garden, a wildlife habitat I call Helen’s Haven, is located in a suburban area of a traditional neighborhood. Helen’s Haven has water sources throughout the garden because water is an important factor in attracting and sustaining wildlife. Several years ago when I put in the fountain with a large reservoir, frogs arrived almost instantly. I wanted more; I wanted frogs and other amphibians in the back garden as well.
Frogs, including toads, are amphibians that are hatched from eggs laid in water. Life begins in the water, then amphibians live mostly off the land, but near water. Once matured, amphibians return to the water to breed and hibernate.
To me, the noise of frogs is one the most comforting of all wildlife sounds–a music only found in nature. Frogs aren’t invited into Helen’s Haven just for their music though, they also help keep pests in check. Fowler’s toad and green tree-frogs are commonly found in my Raleigh garden. Spring and fall are the best times to create a wildlife friendly habitat. Providing water and shelter is all that is needed to attract water seeking wildlife to your garden. All amphibians return to water to spawn, and they like to hang out at the water’s edge.
Water To attract frogs and other amphibians, a water source at ground level is a must. A backyard pond is the ideal water source for frogs. The pond doesn’t need to be elaborate, just enough area to provide adequate space for protection and reproduction, and deep enough so the water doesn’t freeze. A hole dug into the ground, 4 – 6 feet wide and 1 – 2 feet deep, with gradual edges leading into the pond. This helps the wildlife easily climb in and out of the water. Once the hole is dug, cover the area with pond liner and outline it with rocks and plantings to provide a perch in the sun, and protection from predators. The edge also provides a spot for butterflies to sip and birds to dip. A pond liner can be bought where ever pond supplies are sold.
Shelter Once your pond is built, you’ll want to provide some cover nearby to protect toads and frogs. Plantings along the pond’s edge, such as cardinal flowers, Joe-pye weed, black-eyed Susans, ferns, and hostas give a natural barrier for frogs to hide from their terrestrial enemies. Another form of shelter can be introduced by leaving the lawn near the pond un-mowed, and leave some leaf litter, adding additional shelter. Frogs like to bury deep into the leaves, and it’s a good hiding place for pests. This provides a food source for frogs.
Benefits Frogs eat thousands of insect pests — slugs, flies, and mosquitoes. There is no need to put food out in the garden for the toads and frogs; Mother Nature provides for them. Pond-side and nearby plantings will attract insects and other creatures for the toads and frogs to thrive on. Tadpoles will feed on algae and other organisms naturally occurring in the pond. A single adult toad or frog can easily eat as many as 10,000 insects in one summer.
Go Organic Toads and frogs are very sensitive to pollution and contaminants, and are often considered an indicator of a garden’s health. Because insects make up the primary food for frogs, put away your pesticides., It may take a year or so to attract frogs to your garden, or it may happen as soon as this spring. Just sit back and wait so you can listen to summer’s serenades.
As I was putting this post together, two dear friends, Suzanne Edney and Jayme Bednarczyk, were coming over so we could collaborate on a project. It occurred to me that my unfinished pond would become even more special if each would bring a rock from their garden to be placed around the pond’s edge. Now, as I admire the pond, I can also remember this day; even if our collaboration goes nowhere, Suzanne and Jayme will always have a special place in Helen’s Haven.