JUST a toad/frog pond ??

robin11034(7b Charlotte)June 14, 2011


I usually hang out over on the hosta forum but have a question you all may be able to answer. Recently a poster mentioned he had a huge toad that had been hanging around in the garden eating the slugs that totally mess up the hostas.

Cool! I want to encourage such a cool and organic way to get rid of these pests sooooo ...

What do I need to do to make my garden inviting to toads? Can I set up a small "pond" amongst my hostas? I realize I probably can't have just standing water, but would a small one with a small pump shaded by hostas and my other shade plants invite them in? What else might I need?

I realize that they are not necessarily going to STAY in my garden; but if I have made it inviting, they might come back often.

Robin in NC

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Great idea to have a frog and toad pond. I will address the toads since I have no frogs now. I just had to move baby toads out of harms way when mowing the grass today. Toads love ponds and they will stay in the water from March to June when mating season has finally ended. Running water does not seem to be a problem at all. They will like areas to hang out when in the water. Make sure you have rocks that overhang or areas that they can easily get in and out of the pond. A small floating planter or plants will be most welcome too.

They need areas protected from lawnmowers, dogs, cats, etc. They will not mind a sunny pond, but will want cool, moist areas to retreat to when done mating. In times of drought you will need to water areas that the baby toads frequent to keep them alive and well until the rains come again. In the garden clay flower pots set on their sides are great resting areas for toads.

In the early spring I will not see at toad in sight. The viola! There are dozens in my pond. That they survive in a suburb like ours is quite amazing.

I would like to add that the pond should have algae, at least in the sides of the liner. This is what the baby tadpoles eat.

Good luck and post pics!

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 2:56PM
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robin11034(7b Charlotte)

Thanks, Goodkarma!

I'm excited about doing this now! I didn't want to get my hopes up. My husband and I wanted a pond; but, from all our reading, we found our yard is too shaded. Then we thought about a turtle pond. But I was afraid the possums and raccoons would enjoy a personal Golden Coral. We do live in a suburb, but believe it or not have possums and raccoons and sometimes deer. The toad pond seemed like it might be perfect! Protect my hostas, they're faster than turtles, and would probably like a shadier pond.

Now one last final question. Is there a minimum size? One site suggested 12 feet long! I couldn't do that, but I could do one and half to 2 feet diameter.

Robin in NC

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:44PM
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The old saying is true: Build it and they will come.

My pond was about one week old when the first toad showed up, and I've had dozens of them each year since. Your pond won't need to be large, just a small preform or perhaps you can get a piece of scrap liner from someone in a local watergarden society. You also will not need a strong pump, just enough to keep the water moving to discourage mosquitoes and keep the water from becoming stagnant. YOu might also enjoy placing a hardy water lily in the pond as well, or other water plants. They're quite lovely.

Since hostas are shade loving plants, I'm assuming you already have plenty of shade, and the toads will be more than happy to hang out under the leaves, but as Karma said, they appreciate other forms of shelter as well, from professionally made "toad houses" to stacked rocks with an open place for them to get inside. They won't stop at the slugs, either. They'll be just as happy to eat flies, beetles, moths, and pretty much any other garden pest that they can catch. One year, we had a lovely brown toad that passed each day napping under a fold in a blanket we had placed on the patio for the cat to lie on. I have pictures of her sitting in the cat's food dish, waiting for unsuspecting beetles to come over the edge of the dish or for flies to land. She did that every single day during the summer.

You'll know they're around when you start hearing them trilling, calling for a mate, at the water's edge.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 3:46PM
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I think you have a great idea. A friend has a toad/frog pond that is maybe 3' across, just a hole dug in the ground that isn't much more than 8" deep. She keeps it full of water and it is has tons of tadpoles in it all summer. She has massive gardens and likes that the frogs and toads help her with her insect control.

Toads are also overjoyed with solar lamps. I had a toad for a couple of years that lived under some bark I put down next to a solar lamp. It happily gulped up bugs all night.

Good luck and we love pictures!!!! hint, hint


    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 4:56PM
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Just a reminder . . .

You'll need to use either "aged" water or buy dechlorinator when you add water to pond during evaporation. Chlorine in tap water will kill the tadpoles.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 5:05PM
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You will also need mosquito dunks or mosquito fish to keep the vampires away. :o)

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 9:47PM
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robin11034(7b Charlotte)

Thank you all for your responses! After reading them, I've decided that the vessel I was going to use is probably a bit too small. It would probably work width wise, but it is shaped like a large mixing bowl so there would not be much room on the bottom to provide little nooks and such for protection.

Looking at the preforms, most of them are just too big, even the small ones. This area is shaded by a lot of trees. I can't even imagine trying to dig out that much ground with all the tree roots.

So the next option seems to be ... a liner? One of those flexible thick plastic blanket looking things? We can make it the shape and size we want. Raise your hand if I'm understanding this correctly.

Oh, this is also going to be in the front yard. Is there any reason why I can't do that? Back yard is out of the question right now.

Aged water? I've heard of aged wine and aged whiskey, but never aged water. I'm guessing aged water is water I leave out for a minimum amount of time to dechlorinate before I use it.

Since we don't want fish, I'm hoping mosquito dunks are some sort of tablet or such that discourage mosquitoes.

Thank you all for sooooo much information. I feel I know enough to be dangerous to my pocket book now. Will post pics when we are done.

Robin in NC

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 8:37AM
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You won't need rocks actually IN the pond for the toads. They're air breathers, and they will prefer to sit in a sheltered, cool area outside the pond during the day.

When you initially fill your pond, go ahead and use tap water. The chlorine will evaporate before the toads and frogs find the new pond. But when you need to "top off" the pond, that is add water after some of it has evaporated, you can "age" the water by putting water in a bucket and allowing it to sit out for 24 hours or so before adding it to the pond. That allows time for the chlorine to evaporate.

Yes, you are correct. A liner is a strip of (usually) black rubber, very flexible, and can be shaped to the size you want.

Mosquito dunks are donut shaped objects that you place in the water to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching. You can find them at any garden center, but if you have a small pump in your pond to keep the water moving, you won't need them. Mosquitos cannot lay their eggs on water that has a current.

If you can get at least two feet wide and 12 inches deep on your pond, I think you'll be okay. Remember, the smaller you go, the bigger the water loss due to evaporation, and that will make it harder to maintain a healthy balance for the tads.

You will get algae in the pond. Tadpoles eat algae, so if there is none, you can buy algae wafers at pet stores to feed the little guys.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 9:07AM
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I have had a little tiny pond with a fountain by my hosta bed for the last 3 or 4 years. It is plastic and the size of a half barrel(partially submerged in the ground with some stacked rock around it). I have some plants in it that the toads sit on when they are doing their thing. There are 2 goldfish in it for mosquito control. The fountain is small and is wrapped in quilt batting sitting in a black plastic plant pot with 2 rocks in it to hold it down. I have very many toadpoles at this time and they stay in this area every year after they become toads. I also have patio walkway lights along the hosta bed which encourage the toads to stay and eat all of the little bugs attracted in the evening. There are many large toad poops beside the lights come morning. I don't have a slug problem in this bed.

There is only one negative and it happened this year. Our yorkie jumped on/snapped at the toad playfully to make it jump and some of it's poison got in her mouth. We washed out her mouth but she salivated and then vomited. I spent several hours with her until she got over it. I hope she learned her lesson.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 9:16PM
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lisa11310(z5 MI)

Dont forget to make a small flat waterfall spot for the birds to bathe, they will eat more bugs than you can count! AND OH the joys of watching all the birds!

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 9:32PM
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I raise my hand. You understood everything.

The toads hang out everywhere. I have one often on my dry front porch (porch light?), far far away from my pond. For breeding purposes, they would like some plants in shallow water. Wanna guess what grows well IN my stream? Hosta's, You betcha. Impatiens too. but you may need some other types of plants also.

Deer? In North Carolina? Join us over in the Carolina forum and complain about deer all you want.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2011 at 10:11PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I have multiple small ponds with no pumps/filtration around my yard. From a sunken half depth whiskey barrel liner to liner ponds the size of bathtubs. All are full of native tree frog tadpoles right now. They showed up soon after I built the first one. Had a goldfish pond for more than five years with no frogs before I started on the small ponds.

I use Mosquito Dunks in all of my ponds without fish.

bad picture of sunken half barrel liner pond:

Front yard liner ponds in progress:

Raccoon cover


    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 1:41PM
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robin11034(7b Charlotte)

Hi Buyorsell!

Wow if those are bad pictures, I'd love to see some of your good pictures.

I love the first one with what looks like half marbles on the edge. Very pretty and adds to the pond.

What is the chicken wire oval over the second to the last for?

With such smaller ponds, how often do you have to top them off?

My dh is worried that if I don't have a pump moving the water it will start to smell. Does he have a valid worry?

And last, just curious why do you have so many on your property? I was thinking about putting a second one in my backyard away from the pool and thought, "Gee, people are going to think I'm crazy if I put in two." Now I think I just may go ahead and do that.

Robin in NC

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 5:47PM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

Those are flattened half marbles or gems or whatever they are called from the craft store. Glued on with silicone caulk. Raccoons have pried most off and I find them all over the yard. I said it was a bad picture because the plants are overgrown in it and there is glare. Didn't have a better one uploaded to Photobucket.

The chicken wire oval is to keep raccoons out. We live right in the city but have them visit on a routine basis.

I don't have to top them off very often. Not even once a week but I do live in the PNW where it rains. A lot.

We do not notice any smell. We have seven permanent ponds with no moving water and have had one of the whiskey barrels for well over ten years. We also have some container ponds as well. No visitor has complained of any odor either. We have BBQs and such right near the ponds.

We have so many because we can. :) They are addictive. Built the ones out front to grow waterlilies in because the fish pond in back is too shady. Built the fish pond (approx 900 gallon) in 1996.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2011 at 6:03PM
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