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Most gardeners know that frogs and toads are friends in the garden, and finding one under a squash leaf is a great asset for keeping the garden ecosystem balanced and healthy. Often, when a garden is grown organically and in harmony with nature, they’ll simply show up and play their natural roles.

As creators of these designed micro-ecosystems (gardens, lawns, home orchards), we also have the power to extend invitations to our amphibian allies. We can do this by including the right kinds of habitats and toad necessities, as well as avoiding potentially harmful materials.

So, let’s dig deeper into some of the reasons frogs and toads are so great for the garden, some of the differences between the two animals, and how we might better accommodate them as welcomed guests in our spaces.

The Benefits of Frogs and Toads in the Garden

In the simplest of terms, biodiversity—both plant and animal—is good for ecosystems, and a healthy garden behaves much like an ecosystem. The plants, big and small, perennial and annual, have roles to play, as do the animals, even those that devour our kale leaves and squash roots. Frogs and toads are valuable in this capacity, which can’t be overlooked, but they are also beneficial to the garden in other ways.

  • Pest control is probably the amphibians’ claim to fame in garden lore. They eat those insects and slugs that would otherwise eat our plants. With frogs and toads, we can keep a healthy ecological balance whereas, if we were to eradicate the insects and slugs entirely, the frogs and toads wouldn’t have enough to eat.
  • Prey animals wouldn’t seem to be a meaningful benefit to gardeners, but frogs and toads being prey for birds, snakes, and other helpful animals means those animals, in turn, are hanging around to help us with pests, like rats, mice, voles, and so on. The same predators that feed on frogs would also eat similar-sized prey.
  • Bioindicators are animals that signal to us stuff about ecosystems. Frogs and toads only thrive where the ecosystem is healthy, i.e. fully stocked with clean, fresh water and lacking Pollution. Frogs and toads need a clean ecosystem to thrive, so if there is a good population of them, something is right. If there isn’t, better to start investigating.
  • Entertainment is one of the great attributes of gardening. The plants are exciting when they develop and provide harvests. The birds, butterflies, and bees provide flashes of color and blasts of sound. Frogs and toads can be great fun to watch and very funny to listen to when the different species start calling out in turn.

Inviting Frogs and Toads into a Space

Frogs and toads, for many of us, can be difficult to distinguish from one another. In fact, all toads are frogs, but all frogs are not necessarily toads. Compared to true frogs, toads have dry skin, lay their eggs in lines or strings as opposed to round clusters, and have stouter bodies with shorter legs. Nevertheless, they are in the same order of animals: Anura. And, they have somewhat similar needs.

  • Water seems a bit of a cheat in that all animals need water, and putting some in a garden or yard is a great idea for attracting wildlife of all sorts. Frogs and toads, however, being amphibians, require water in a different way. They can’t reproduce without it. Additionally, that water is going to have to be clean.
  • Habitats can be slightly different for frogs and toads. Frogs tend to hang closer to moist environs, and toads, while also fans of moisture, have better adapted to living in drier spots. Either way, they both like rocks, stumps, and comfortable nooks to nestle into. A good garden project is to turn some old, cracked flowerpots on their side and bury them halfway in the soil to act as frog and toad shelters.
  • Chemical-free gardens are a must for attracting and keeping frogs around. They are very sensitive to chemicals, such as pesticides, and may even be adversely affected by organic sprays as well. For a frog-friendly garden, steer clear of chemicals and go with light-duty homemade remedies for insects and other small pests, like slugs.

Frogs and Toads to the Rescue

Once a good environment is set up, there is no need to import frogs and toads by buying eggs or tadpoles. They will find you, and that’s where a beautiful friendship can begin.

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