Toad house for garden

  1. If you want to get creative you can embellish the outside of your flower pot or a coffee can with your favorite graphic image or go freestyle. Or, use paint to make it official by painting the words “Toad House” on your container. This will also reduce the likelihood that some uninformed visitor or family member will disturb it or throw it away. Alternatively, you can paint your new garden home green so it blends in.
  2. Find a shady spot in your garden and dig a hole that is large enough to accommodate your container when it is lying on its side.
  3. Drop the container into the hole and bury the bottom half in the dirt. Toads like to burrow, so it’s important to create a solid, straight dirt floor. It is even better if you are using a broken pot with the gap located on the floor of the toad house. Just be sure to leave enough space for the toads to enter.
  4. Grab a handful of leaves and stick them inside the container. The leaves serve as bedding material and their addition completes the toad house building process.
  5. Next, you have to make sure there’s a sufficient water source near your toad house. Even a saucer of water will do the trick, and a small pond is even better. If you use a saucer, check it every day or so to make sure the container has some water in it.
  6. If you have pets, keep your toad house out of areas that your pets frequent.
  7. If you want to get super fancy—and take being bug-free one step further—you can add a toad light to the garden to attract insects.

When night comes, toads set out from their daytime hiding spots to go on the hunt. Not for big game, of course! But, did you know that a single toad can eat up to a thousand insects, slugs, spiders, and other pests per night? If you want to spoil them a bit in return for their excellent work, make a toad house, or several. It’s easy and a fun project for parents and children, or just you alone. Put on your DIY apron and get creative!

Make a flowerpot toad house

There are several ways to use a flowerpot as a toad house, and it’s simple to do. First, though, make entrance and exit holes. Do this by drilling a series of holes in a semicircular pattern above the lip of a flowerpot pot. Then, tap out the piece with a hammer. That forms the entrance, which should be at least 4 or 5 inches wide (10–13 cm) and 3 inches high (7 cm) because toads get pretty large. Make sure the cut edges are smooth (a metal file will work for that). Make an identical hole on the opposite side as an emergency escape exit.

Invert the pot and set it on the ground in a shady spot. That’s it! Or, make a toad cave: Lay the pot on its side and partially bury it so the toad will be resting on the soil that’s within. Enlarge the drainage hole on the bottom as an exit.

Flowerpot toad house. (Noah Sussman / Flickr; cc by 2.0)

Or, dig a well in the soil 4 to 5 inches deep (10–13 cm) and slightly smaller than the circumference of the flowerpot’s rim. Fill the hole with soft soil topped with a layer of moist, rotting leaves and set the inverted pot over it (with holes punched in the rim, of course). It should surround the well, not sit in it. In dry weather, sprinkle some water through the hole in the top to moisten the bedding, and also change it from time to time to keep it fresh (when the toad isn’t home).

Coffee cans or other metal containers can be used for toad houses, but file off sharp edges and make sure to place them in dense shade.

Glamorize! Glue on decorative tiles, little ceramic toads, attractive rocks or anything else that pleases you. Or, paint it. Cover painted pieces with two layers of acrylic sealer (don’t spray the interior.)

Make a stone toad hole

In a shady spot near water, excavate a hole 10 inches square by 10 inches deep (25 cm). Fill it with soft soil topped with a layer of moist, rotting leaves, for summer bedding and winter hibernation.

Stone toad house. (fbhk / ; PD)

Build walls and a roof over it using several large, flat stones. Leave an opening in the front and back for entry and exit. Jazz up the stones by painting them, or use decorative kinds.

Mold a toad house

If you’re into ceramics, create a novel design for a nontraditional hidey-hole.

Ceramic toad house. (Tony Alter / Flickr; cc by 2.0)

How to attract toad residents

Hang a temporary, soft light a couple of feet (0.6 m) above the ground and near the entrance to the toad house to attract insects. The insects will draw toads if there are any in your yard.

Look, but don’t touch!

Too much handling will drive a toad away. Also, a toad handled roughly will produce a toxic secretion through its skin that’s an irritant, especially if it gets into a person’s eyes or mouth. It’s a toad’s only way of protecting itself. Take care to place toad houses where family pets won’t get to them, either—this isn’t so much for the protection of the toads, but for your pets—to spare them the extremely unpleasant result of tasting a toad! What to do if your pet bites a toad

*Top photo: Toad house. (4wphoto / ; PD)

More reading:

Explore an insect-friendly yard
Build a simple birdhouse
Say no to pesticides

Make a Toad House from a Recycled Container – Fun Garden Project for the Kids

My little guy is pretty fascinated with all the creatures that pop out in the summer, especially the toads; so with a few supplies we had on hand, we put together a cozy home for our little friends.

I love crafting projects that I can get my little guy involved in. Even though I did most of the work on our toad house {because my guy is younger}, he still had fun helping along and being involved – which is what it is all about.

Materials Needed:

Recycled Plastic Container – preferably a tall one

{we used an old bulk Twizzlers container}

A Large Bowl

Craft or Wood Glue

Dirt or Potting Soil

Spray Paint or Acrylic Paints

Clear Spray – Sealant

Scrap Vinyl or Stickers

Tools Needed: Scissors, Foam Brush

Begin by cutting a door into the plastic container – make sure you turn the container upside down so the opening is on the bottom. I used regular scissors and they worked perfectly on the plastic. If there are any sharp edges left behind simply cover them with electrical or masking tape so no one gets scratched – {the little ones or the toads}.

Spray the container with a shade of brown paint. My guy is still quite young so I used spray paint. You could also let the kiddies paint it with acrylics as well. We used Krylon Brown Boots. This step is optional, though it makes for a finished looking house in the end.

Working with one side at a time, squirt out a good amount of glue and smooth it out with a foam brush ensuring the entire side is covered. We used Gorilla Wood Glue which has an exceptional hold…even with dirt.

Sprinkle dirt or potting soil over the glue and shake off any excess.

Once all the sides are covered, let the glue set for a couple of hours and go play!

After it is dry spray a clear coat over the dirt to seal. We used Krylon Acrylic Crystal Clear Spray. This will help adhere any loose dirt and protect the house as much as possible from the elements.

While the clear coat is drying, prepare the bowl for the top. Make sure the bowl you are using fits nicely on the top of the container and hangs over the sides – this will aid in protecting the bottom of the container from the elements as well.

Decorate the bowl as you wish. It can be sprayed or if you still have the attention of your little helpers – letting them have free range with a brush and acrylics would work too! {If you do opt to use acrylics make sure you seal them with a clear coat}

Our bowl was already white so I used scrap vinyl to cut out a few circles to place on the surface before I covered it with Krylon Fusion for Plastic spray paint in Red Pepper.

I made a little pennant banner for our home – You can find the tutorial {here}. To attach it to the container, I simply poked two holes into the top and fed through the wires to hang.

Place the bowl upside down on top of the container and wait for the toads…of course our toads are camera shy and have been no where to be found for the past couple of days.

Hope you are enjoying the last few weeks before fall!

I shared this post as part of Design Dazzle’s Summer Camp.

Click the button above to check out more fun projects from the other

Summer Camp Counselors.

DIY Toad Abode

Written by Amy Barton on June 27, 2015

Toad abodes are whimsical and practical projects and make charming additions to any garden. Toads are beneficial critters because they consume insects and slugs considered pests to gardens. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that a single adult toad can eat 10,000 insect pests over the course of an average summer. Their pest eating qualities make toad abodes great gifts for nature lovers and gardeners alike.

You can choose to buy a toad abode (you can find them at your local garden store) however, making your own toad abode might take even less time. DIY toad abodes are inexpensive, easy, rewarding, and can be fun project for you and your family.

Not just a garden decoration

At first glance you might think that a toad abode is just a cute garden decoration, but you will be pleasantly surprised to know that toads really do use these little cottages! It could take anywhere from a couple days to a few months for the toad to find and claim your provided home, but once they do they make great yard companions.

Please do not find an adult toad and put a toad in your yard because they have already decided where they want to live. Try instead to put your abode out during the growing season, and over the summer young toads will be looking for a place to call home.

Where to put your toad abode

Situate your toad home in a shady spot in the dampest part of your yard. Placing it under a bush, near a downspout or under an air conditioner drip would work great. Toads like garden soil amended with compost. Make sure whatever house you make does not have a bottom as they will want to burrow down a little and make the house their own.

Toads require a source of water

Toads need access to water, not deep water, but just enough to get a daily soak. Small garden ponds, bird baths or even a terracotta plant saucer will work. Give your water source a daily spritz with the hose to keep the water fresh. Make sure you keep your water source clean from algae by scrubbing with a wire brush if you start to see it appear.

How to make a toad abode with a clay pot

Using a clay pot is a great option because they stay cooler in the hot summer months, allowing your amphibious friends to escape the heat. Here are a few options for clay pot toad abodes:

1. The toad cave

Half bury the clay pot on its side leaving a nice little cave underneath. This option is super easy and might only take a minute or two.

2. The raised abode

Put the clay pot upside-down on top of a circle of rocks, removing some rocks to make an entryway.

3. The fixer-upper

You can also use a broken pot with a large chip in the lip. Toads are not picky, they just want a place to call home.

4. The cottage

If you’re feeling really fancy, you can hot glue river rocks to a clay pot for a more rustic look. Make sure to use non-toxic glue as not to harm your toad.

Decorating your toad abode

Making your toad abode a real home with some decorating is a fun way to match your personal style. Giving kids the opportunity to paint the home is a great activity and opportunity to teach them about amphibians, wild critters, and conservation. If you want to decorate your abode, make sure to use non-toxic, washable paint. Other paints could be harmful to your new friend.

Houston Arboretum & Nature Center

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By houstonA on 2015/06/29 / Nature Blogs

Natural Balance for the Garden: Create a Toad House

While working on my latest garden idea, my dad’s work ethic and singsong grace filled the air. Although Dad died over three years ago, the sounds of roofers nearby, whistling their workaday tunes, brought his memory to life. Dad was a whistling carpenter for most of his 90 years…though he insisted on using the title “builder.” He was creative and could find a use for most any everyday object.

Today, I was priming a collection of terracotta pots, readying them for an alternative use: toad houses! As I’ve been planting and weeding in my flower garden this spring, I’ve had the privilege to see a few toads hopping through. These nocturnal creatures eat up to 10,000 pests in a summer — from spiders to slugs, grubs, snails, moths, and other pesky insects. My garden currently has two beautiful rose bushes, which inevitably become plagued by aphids in summer. I’m hoping that, by placing two of my toad houses beneath these bushes, I will soon welcome more toads as natural pest deterrents. No need for pesticides, which can harm toads (as well as damage many necessary garden critters). Dad would be pleased by the utilitarian use of these small houses.

An Inviting Home for Amphibians

An upside-down clay pot serves as an inviting home for these amphibians, as toads like to live in cool, damp places such as under tree roots, boards and rocks. A toad house can be made using a plastic container or a clay pot. Clay will serve as a cooler, more natural environment for these garden helpers. And because these miniature homes will adorn my garden, I’ve turned them into garden decor. After coating the outside of the terracotta pots with white primer, I used acrylic paints to decorate them. Spray polyurethane will serve as a protective coating.


Placement of Your Toad House

Toad houses should be placed beneath foliage, upside-down on either a circle of small stones with openings for the toads to enter in the front and back, or the rim of the house can be propped up on one steady stone. Be sure to place shallow water dishes nearby, as toads enjoy moisture and absorb water through their bodies by sitting in the water. Keep these water sources rinsed clean and refilled at least weekly, and you should soon be welcoming some happy and helpful amphibians to your garden. If you’re looking for arts and crafts for kids to work on this summer, this is a fun project for any age — from young children to seniors.

Any day spent reminded of listening to Dad working is a day well spent. Creating these small toad houses that will contribute to a healthy environment in my garden would have given my dad something to whistle about.

Photos by author.


Arsenault, Rachel. How to Attract Frogs and Toads to Your Garden. Grow a Good Life. May 16, 2016. Web.

Moorman, Christopher, et al. Reptiles and Amphibians in Your Backyard. NC State Extension Publications. Aug. 23, 2017. Web.


Rhoads, Heather. Toads In The Garden – How to Attract Toads. Gardening Know How. April 5, 2018. Web.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Adding a frog house to your garden is one of the simplest ways to attract insect-eating frogs and toads to your garden area, where they will gorge on mosquitoes, biting flies, and plant predators.

I’ve had frogs in my garden for years. In fact, I encourage and attract them. We have a symbiotic relationship, frogs and I; each benefitting from the other. I provide a cozy home, with the perfect conditions, and Mr. Toad gets plenty of food. In turn, I get all the benefits of a natural, non-destructive predator in my garden.

Benefits of inviting frogs and toads to your garden

Frog are carnivores, meaning they eat meat. You will not, however, need to feed them, they naturally eat many types of insects that you have in the garden, including mosquito, flies, moths, and grasshoppers. When you offer frogs and toads shelter in your garden you will enjoy these benefits:

  • There will be less insect damage to your garden crops.
  • You’ll get wonderful songs during the night in exchange for their hard work.
  • Once a frog sets up his home, you’ll find fewer mosquitoes to bite you while you are out in the garden weeding
  • Attracting native frogs to your landscape gives you the good feeling that you are helping another species survive the summer.

Attracting frogs to your yard

Start by attracting native species of frogs and toads in your area. In British Columbia, I will certainly find the Boreal or Western Toad, the Great Basin Spadefoot, the Pacific Treefrog, and the Leopard Frog – but there are actually a dozen species for each and every locale.

Find out what kind of habitat these frogs like by doing an online search for the terms “native frogs of (your state or province)”. Look for a site from your local government’s wildlife or natural resources department. The benefit of going local is that you will also get information about the invasive species that may be a danger to your local frogs. Armed with this information, you know what you are attracting and you can recreate that habitat in your yard.

You don’t have to build a large water feature to attracts frogs to your landscape. Frogs are happy as long as they have available moisture and protection from predators.

Plants to grow for frog and toad protection

Frogs don’t eat plants, but they need them for protection. Your frogs are on the menu for many other wildlife species, so make sure to offer a landscape with hiding places from potential predators, kids, and even your pets. This goes without saying, but pesticides and amphibians do not go together. If you want to have frogs in your garden you must adopt organic gardening practices.

Choose, or create, an area of densely planted wildflowers, tall grasses, herbs, ferns, and annual or perennial vegetables to go around your new toad abode. These plants will give them the hiding places they need and shelter the house you make for them. They will also provide catchment places for the frog to get his next meal.

Materials to use for your frog house

You probably already have the materials needed to make a toad house readily available. Use broken pottery, mugs, clay butter dishes or serving bowls and even clay plant pots. These can furnish the materials for a frog house for your garden. If you have a choice, opt for unglazed pottery which will absorb moisture from the soil, and offer a cool spot to rest in your garden. But, if you don’t have terra cotta, glazed pottery will work, too.

For this project, I found an unglazed onion keeper that had a small chip in the rim. It’s been sitting empty on my kitchen counter for quite some time, and I just thought it was too good to toss. It hasn’t had onions in it for a long time, but since it had a chip, it didn’t make it to the thrift store box. I bet you have some pottery in your house, that is damaged but too good to toss, too. It made the ideal frog house project.

How to make a frog house for your garden

Take your pot to the garden. Look for a spot where it won’t get sloshed about with water during heavy rain. Choose a place at the top of an incline rather than in a low area. A natural hollow is perfect, just like this spot with a stump that hasn’t rotted out yet.

Lay your pot on its side and dig the closed end down about one-third of the way. If you have a natural hollow as I do, build it up around the pot so that the bottom third is covered. Tipp up the opening of the pot by propping it up with its own lid. If you are using a terra cotta pot without a lid, you can use a rock to tip up the opening of the pot.

The goal here is to create a shaded cool area for the frog to get refuge from the heat of the day. You can accomplish this by covering the top and sides of the pot with dirt, moss, straw or anything handy to keep the vessel cool and prevent the sun from beating down on it, especially if it’s in an exposed spot.

Next, partially cover the opening with a heavy rock, but leave enough space so that the frog can slip in. This protects the frogs that find shelter in your frog house from cats and predators.

Your frog house will be moistened with dew and will get moisture when you water the garden. If you used an unglazed pot or vessel, your frog house will absorb moisture in the night and evaporate it during the day, keeping your frog house cool even when the sun is beating down.

Make a frog and toad abode

  1. Choose your location. Basically you need somewhere where you can dig a hole in the ground about 30-45 cm deep where you can part-bury your collection of logs and stones. A shady or semi-shady spot is ideal. It doesn’t necessarily have to be near a pond, but within a hop and a leap of one is no bad thing. If you’ve already dug a damp ditch for diversity, you could use part of the bank you created when doing that!
  2. Dig a round hole with a flat bottom. Pile the soil to one side as you go. Once big enough, fill it with your assorted rubble and logs. The idea is that the bricks and rocks are stable enough that they won’t collapse and crush creatures within, but at the same time don’t pack it all down. Imagine you are creating a higgledy-piggledy underground maze. There has got to be a myriad of hidden winding corridors ranging from a few millimetres wide through to a few centimetres, all leading deep into the pile.
  3. Continue to pile material up above ground level – it is really useful to continue to build the pile into a low mound.
  4. To cap it off. If you’ve go some, put some builders ballast over the rubble and logs, followed by the soil back over the top. What you don’t want to do is close up all of the entrances – you still need to be able to see lots of gaps around the edges. You can pile the soil over the back half of the abode so that the front entrances are all clear of soil.
  5. Finishing touches. If you like, sprinkle a little wildflower seed over the soil on top of and around the edges of your mansion – amphibians will love their garden path being damp and sheltered. Or you could just add some branches and twigs for camouflage. Over time, rain and gravity will push some of the soil back down into the holes, so after several years you may need to create another home. But this one should last for a few seasons.
  6. Why not pop out with a torch on a damp evening in spring or summer to see if any residents are emerging?

Attracting and keeping frogs and toads in your garden will help reduce pest populations naturally without the need for pesticides. Here are some tips on how to attract and encourage frogs and toads to live in your garden.

Earlier this spring, I spotted a hole in the soil in one of my raised beds while walking the garden. When I returned a few days later, I saw that the hole was larger. Last year, I had a huge problem with voles in the garden that reduced my yield of potatoes and carrots.

“Not this year!” I thought as I inspected the hole with my gloved hand. I pulled away some of the soil from the edge of the hole and spotted something grey inside. I grabbed my garden trowel and dug down beneath the grey thing and carefully lifted it up. The grey blob was covered with dirt, but moved every so slightly. I almost screamed, but I was determined to figure out what it was. I dropped the shovel full of soil and grabbed the grey thing with my gloved hands. It took a few seconds for me to identify it. As the soil dropped away, I saw that it was a rather large toad!

It wasn’t moving much, and its eyes were closed tight. I looked it over carefully and was so glad I didn’t hurt it with my garden trowel. I carved out a shallow hole and placed the toad back into the ground while I searched the yard for a rock or piece of wood to use as a roof for the temporary toad home. When I returned and peered into the hole, I was astounded to see that the toad was gone! I found it again when I poked into the loose soil. It buried itself that quickly and blended with the soil. I placed the roof over the hole to leaving a small opening and covered it with last year’s straw.

I checked on the toad a day later and spotted it at the entrance of the opening warming itself in the spring sunshine. After shaking the winter hibernation sleepiness, the toad will return to its birthplace to spawn. This toad will probably hop to the edge of the yard and down the bank to a small stream that winds through the woods. I hope it makes it back to the garden for the summer.

Why You WANT Frogs and Toads in Your Garden

Frogs and toads are both amphibians and belong to the Anura order. Although they are similar, frogs and toads are easily distinguished by certain traits. Toads have dry, bumpy skin and spend most of their lives on land. In winter, toads hibernate on land beneath the frost line. They burrow down in the soil using their back legs.

Frogs have moist smooth skin and spend most of their lives in or near water. When I started gardening, my first amphibian friend was a pickerel frog. I was surprised to learn that frogs don’t spend all of their time in water, but will venture out to grassy areas in search of food. This one stayed in the garden all summer hiding away under boards and in between the foliage in the herb garden. It would startle me once in a while by jumping out of the foliage when I disturbed its hiding place. In the winter, Pickerel frogs hibernate in the mud debris and silt of ponds or streams.

Both frogs and toads are beneficial to the garden because they feed on many pests such as, bugs, beetles, caterpillars, cutworms, grasshoppers, grubs, slugs, and a variety of other pests. A single frog can eat over 100 insects in one night. Attracting and keeping frogs and toads in your garden will help moderate pest populations without the need for chemical or natural pesticides.

How to Attract Frogs and Toads to Your Garden

If you have a pond, brook, or water feature near you, you probably have frogs and toads nearby. Here are some of the ways to attract them to your garden and invite them to stay:

Eliminate Chemicals: Pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides can poison frogs and toads. Frogs and toads breathe and drink through their skin. Eliminate chemicals and garden organically. Build healthy soil, companion plant, and use crop rotation and organic gardening techniques. Encouraging frogs or toads to stay in your garden will take care of any insects naturally.

Offer Shelter: Most toads and frogs are nocturnal and avoid sun to prevent dehydration. They prefer damp, shady areas and need shelter to hide from predators and escape the heat from the daytime sun. Create a shelter by arranging stones into a small cave. You can also use a clay or ceramic flowerpot as housing. Turn the pot upside down and prop it up with rocks leaving enough room for the frog or toad to slip inside. Locate your shelter in a quiet area that has a lot of shade.

Provide Water: Toads and frogs don’t drink through their mouth. Instead, they absorb moisture into their bodies by sitting in water. Place several shallow containers of water in the shade near the shelter. Rinse the containers out at least once week and fill with fresh water. Tanya at Lovely Greens built a small wildlife pond to attract frogs to her garden.

Attracting and encouraging toads and frogs to live in your garden keeps the pest population down and reduces the need for pesticides or other natural insect deterrents. Just one frog or toad can eat up to 10,000 pests during the garden season. Toads and frogs will often return to the same location from year to year as long as the environment is pleasant and there is plenty to eat.

Caution: You may not want to encourage frogs and toads to stay if you have dogs that enjoy hunting down toads. As a defense mechanism against predators, most toads release skin secretions which produce a foul-smelling odor and can be toxic to dogs and other animals.

You May Also Like:

  • 5 Ways Organic Mulch Helps Your Garden
  • 7 Herbs to Start From Seed
  • 20 Garden Mulching Tips from Seasoned Growers
  • 7 Tips to Prepare Your Garden for Winter

Good planning is key to a successful vegetable garden.

Whether you are new to growing your own food or have been growing a vegetable garden for years, you will benefit from some planning each year. You will find everything you need to organize and plan your vegetable garden in my PDF eBook, Grow a Good Life Guide to Planning Your Vegetable Garden.

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