Five Tips to Help Frogs and Toads in Your Yard

Birds and butterflies are some of the most commonly seen wildlife in our yards and neighborhoods. If you follow the recommendations of our Garden for Wildlife program, you’ll be guaranteed to attract lots of these colorful winged creatures–and they’re not the only species that can benefit from a wildlife habitat garden.

Amphibians like frogs and toads might also call your yard home if you make it welcoming to them. Amphibians are the most endangered group of vertebrate wildlife on the planet, with nearly one-third of species at risk of extinction. Helping frogs and toads in your own neighborhood is a great way to think globally and act locally.

Here are five tips to make a great habitat for frogs and toads:

Reduce Your Lawn, Plant Natives

Lawns are the standard in American landscapes, but unfortunately, they provide no habitat for most wildlife.  Reduce the size or your lawn–or get rid of it altogether–and add more native plants. Frogs and toads don’t eat plants, but they still benefit from a garden filled with natives. Native plants support exponentially more insects than non-natives do, and insects are amphibian food.

Amphibians like this bronze frog rely on insects as a primary food source. Photo by Julia Bartosh.

Don’t Use Pesticides

Don’t spray pesticides in your yard, whether they are insecticides, herbicides or fungicides. They can kill amphibians directly, cause deformities, or eliminate their habitat and food sources. Use organic gardening practices at home, don’t hire lawn care companies that dump pesticides everywhere, and try to educate your neighbors about the harm that these chemicals can do to wildlife.

Amphibians like this gray tree frog are at risk from home pesticide use. Photo by Shanon Shuler Gaskins.

Provide Cover

Amphibians are on the menu for many other wildlife species, so make sure to offer plenty of cover and hiding places from potential predators (including kids and pets). Again, the best way to offer cover is to eliminate lawn areas in favor of densely planted beds of native wildflowers, groundcovers, ferns, and shrubs. You can also create small brush piles or put out a “toad abode” as hiding places.

Can you spot the toad? Natural vegetation provides cover for amphibians and other wildlife. Photo by Jenni Lopez.

Add Water

Frogs and toads lay their eggs in clean bodies of standing water with lots of natural vegetation. A garden pond can be the perfect place for them to breed. Even if you don’t have space to add a pond for breeding amphibians, a simple birdbath placed right on ground level can be a great water feature for moisture-loving amphibians.

Frogs and toads lay eggs in standing bodies of clean water, including backyard ponds. Here a male American toad calls for a mate. Photo by Kathy Bodall.

Protect Wetlands

Fight to protect local natural areas, especially wetlands. Many species can be bolstered and supported by “backyard habitats” but if all the surrounding natural area is paved over and developed, most species will decline regardless of what we do in our yards.

Natural wetlands support a diversity of amphibians such as this green frog. Photo by Jacob Morgan.
Our Garden for Wildlife program is celebrating its 45th anniversary this year! Learn how you can participate:
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