I’ve tried unsuccessfully to grow food in my side yard, so now I’m changing it into more of a flower garden and nature sanctuary. I have herbs growing in the garden boxes, and I’m trying my first winter garden in those, but next summer I plan to move the veggie garden to a part of my yard that gets more sun and turn the side yard into more of a sanctuary space.
With that in mind, we spent a rainy Saturday installing a tiny toad pond. It was the perfect time because the rain filled up the pond for me. Up until now that part of the yard was just weeds growing out of the clay, nothing pretty about it, except one lone azalea in the corner.
I got the idea for the toad pond from a book I really enjoyed, called Creating Sanctuary, (not an affiliate link) that I got at the library. It’s a very simple project that brings wildlife into your garden and helps with pest control. Toads eat slugs and insects that destroy plants. Plus, who doesn’t like to watch a toad hop around.
All you need is a shallow tub or pan, some rocks around it to provide shelter, and some way for the toads to get in and out if your pond is deep. There are plenty of videos on YouTube about how to build an actual pond with a filter and plants and even fish, but this is a very simple project that doesn’t require a lot of effort or money.
Toads don’t drink water; they absorb it through their skin. They need a safe place to get wet and stay hydrated. They like little hiding spots as well, places they can see and not be seen by hawks or snakes or free-roaming neighborhood cats. Toads also hibernate for the winter by digging down into the soil. To try and provide for all of these habitat needs, we used rocks to create a little cave. I put down a layer of mulch earlier this summer and it’s already starting to decompose and make good, black soil, perfect for a little toad to burrow into.
It’s October and cooling off now, and I’m not sure we’ll get any toads in our tiny pond this late in the year. But we built it, and I’m confident that they will come, even if it’s not til next spring.
This project cost about $16 to make.
$7 for the shallow pan from the hardware store (it’s the bottom piece of a large planter).
Rocks were free because we gathered them from the creek at the barn!
$3 for a bag of pea gravel that we needed to buy anyway to improve drainage around our rabbit hutch.
2 types of ferns for $3 each from the clearance plant rack at the hardware store.
One flowering plant for $3 from the clearance rack.
Another cheap, easy thing to add would be a small solar light that will attract bugs and provide an easy meal for your resident toad. We forgot to get one.
My yard isn’t much of a nature preserve yet, but little by little we’re changing it from the standard suburban monoculture of grass into a habitat for birds, butterflies, bees and small wildlife. We’ve added bird feeders, bird nesting boxes, hummingbird feeders, flowering plants, and now a toad habitat. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend, there are plenty of way to make small changes to your yard and make it more hospitable to all the different critters that pass through.