(Many thanks to Jennifer Dawson for this guest blog!)
According to a recent survey, the number of frogs spotted in domestic gardens has fallen by 17% since 2012. Frogs consume a large amount of insects, in particular mosquitoes, which can transmit illness to humans, and frogs also keep garden pests under control. Frogs (including their eggs and tadpoles) in turn are a source of food to other wildlife, such as birds, beetles and dragonflies – they are an essential animal in our precious ecosystem. Providing a space for frogs in your garden will help them to thrive. With the right planting, and of course a pond or water source, your garden can become a safe haven for frogs.
Grasses and lawn
Your lawn may look nice clipped back short, but by leaving your grass longer, it can provide frogs with the perfect place for foraging and shelter. Creating a nature-friendly lawn is easy – don’t mow the grass so often and encourage the wild flowers. It is also extremely important that you don’t use any pesticides or fertilizers that have harmful chemicals in them. Commercial weed killers will kill off the insects and pollinators that are not only essential to the environment, but also provide a valuable food source to frogs. Mixing up several different species of grass seed will help to cultivate a variety of flowers, attracting many different creatures.
During the day, frogs stay out of harsh sunlight to avoid becoming dehydrated. At this time they will retreat to the shady and damp areas of your garden. You can help them by creating shelters around your garden for them to hide in. An upturned terracotta flower pot propped open with a stone, makes the perfect frog housing. You could also arrange a pile of stones into a small cave, and cut back the bottoms of any bushes or hedges so that frogs can find shelter underneath.
Plants and water sources
Frogs don’t drink through their mouths, unlike many animals. Instead they absorb moisture through their skin. This is why it is essential that they have a permanent water source in your garden. A small wildlife pond is always a good option. You could also place several smaller containers of water in the shady areas of your garden for frogs to sit in. Submerged plants in your pond make additional shelter and will attract frogs, The plants also absorb excess phosphorus and nitrogen. Water Violet, Rigid Hornwort and Spiked Water Milfoil are good choices for a garden pond and require little assistance in growing. Marginal plants like Water Mint will provide an access point for frogs to enter the water.
The number of frogs found in gardens has fallen and will continue to do so if we don’t provide them with suitable habitat. If we want them to survive, we need to help frogs by creating a safe haven for them in our gardens.