The amphibious family often found in our gardens will always have a special place in our hearts, almost all of us will have fond memories of encounters with these unique critters. Many of us will remember how they helped to educate us as youngsters with the wonder of metamorphosis. As children, we awed over the strange looking frog spawn in the local pond; the wriggles and squirms of tad poles and the development of small limbs that form our much-loved frogs. They are one of few species of garden wildlife within the UK, which we have close encounters with, allowing us to really get one-on-one with nature.
As amphibians, frogs are able to survive in water and on dry land, with the word amphibious originating from the Greek, meaning ‘both lives’. Over the years frogs have provided scientists with valuable information regarding the health of the ecosystem. But how do they benefit our gardens? Frogs are one of nature’s best pesticides as their diet consists of snails, slugs and other insects that like to feast on our plants. They also consume invertebrates (spiders, wasps and beetles to you and I!), making them the ultimate ally to keep the bugs at bay. Their presence in your garden deters these unwanted insects whilst eliminating any need for synthetic pesticides, improving the overall health of your garden and home.
A widely unknown fact about our amphibious friends is that they breathe and even drink through their skin, leaving them exposed to toxins caused by environmental changes and pollutants. It’s no secret that a large number of frogs and other wildlife are vanishing from the UK and numerous charities such as the Amphibian and Reptile Conservation are determined to preserve and protect these precious garden visitors.
Which frogs will I see in my garden?
You will see a selection of amphibians in your garden as Great Britain has several species native to the UK. These include two native frogs, two toads and three species of newts. Like all animals, their behaviour and presence is season dependant as frogs normally hibernate on land between October and April, emerging in spring.
How can I attract frogs to my garden?
It is clear to see why more and more garden enthusiasts are embracing frogs for their pest control, educational and ecological benefits. Many garden designs are now incorporating ways in which to provide a safe, healthy environment for frogs and to contribute towards efforts that will help prevent their population from further deterioration
Although these animals are amphibious, they spend the majority of their life on land, making use of natural resources which will provide shelter, moisture and a selection of insects to dine on. Frog friendly gardens can be created using habitat management, including an array of garden features that imitate the conditions in which frogs thrive.
What should I include in my frog friendly garden?
Frog-friendly gardens often include a small pond. Frogs need lots of moisture in their environment and a small frog garden pond offers a safe home for them to rest, feed and reproduce as the conditions are perfect for them to lay eggs. Garden ponds make ideal habitats for tadpoles as they provide shade to keep the water from getting too hot, protection from predators and algae for food. There has been a dramatic decrease in ponds throughout the British countryside, meaning garden ponds and other water features have an increased importance for wildlife.
Frog ‘hot spots’ are an effective alternative for gardens where ponds just aren’t feasible. Arranging log piles, compost heaps, stones or even getting creative with the family and designing your own frog and toad abode, will provide good shelters that make sustainable conditions accessible to frogs.
What should I NOT include in my frog friendly garden?
Frogs are sensitive to chemicals in their environment so avoid using chemical fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides for gardening activities. Allow frogs to do what they do best and hunt those garden pests, while fertilising your garden with natural sources of nutrients found in compost.