want a toad-friendly yard #260458 - Ask Extension


want a toad-friendly yard #260458

Asked July 09, 2015, 10:31 AM EDT

I would like to make a "toad garden" in my front yard, ie, a place where they can "hang out" away from the dense grass and lawnmower. I suspect lawnmowers are a big cause of death as I find it difficult, esp now with the little ones, to see them in the grass as I cut grass. It also seems like they prefer the areas where the grass is not as dense. So, for my toad garden, I am thinking of about 150 to 200 sq ft surrounded by landscape edging. Inside, plant a few bushes they could hide under, a few patio stones they can burrow under, a few rocks thay can hide under. But basically, what kind of soil would be best? I would like something that inherently won't grow a lot of weeds, etc. In other words, something that will tend to remain "sparse" of vegetation. Round-up, mulch, landscaping stones don't seem to be the best solution for keeping plant growth under control. So I was thinking of a low-quality soil, like a clay-sand mixture, for the top 3 inches. Any thought about this, esp the soil idea? where to get such soil? I have called a few home builders, thinking they might have some from their excavations, but they say they keep it and use it for back fill. Any adivce appreciated. If this works, I might make a much larger area in my backyard for those toads.

Kent County Delaware

Expert Response

Hello and thank you for sending a question in to “Ask An Expert.”

There are several practices you can adopt to attract toads to your garden, just a few would be:

  • Provide shelter – if you don’t have natural shelters, try putting out a broken clay pot and partially bury it in the ground or build a small shelter with a pile of rocks.

  • Put a water source nearby. Try a clay saucer or something shallow. Toads drink water through their skin, so be sure it’s shallow enough for them to hop in.

  • Plant perennials with large leaves that grow close to the ground.  Native plants would be your best option as they encourage native wildlife.

  • Toads prefer shady, cool, damp areas

    Your question in regards to the soil led to an interesting discussion and the advice offed is to mulch the area with lightly shredded leaves –toads like to burrow into this type of mulch and although you have noticed them in open areas, toads like to burrow for protection.  In order to attract toads and other wildlife to the area you would want to have plants and the plants will require a decent soil to thrive.

    An important reminder - don’t use chemical pesticides! It will reduce their food supply and could be harmful to them.

    …and just a few interesting facts about toads:

  • They hibernate underground during the winter.

  • They can live as long as 15 years!

  • Just like birds, they will return to the same place each spring if there is a food and water source.

  • Toads are nocturnal.

    Hope this information helps with your toad questions!  If you need further information please respond to this question or feel free to call the Cooperative Extension in your county:

    Kent County Cooperative Extension

    University of Delaware Paradee Center
    Kent County Cooperative Extension
    69 Transportation Circle
    Dover, DE 19901

    (302) 730-4000
    Office Hours – 8:00am – 4:30pm

    Thank you again for contacting us – Good Luck!!

    J.W. Wistermayer

    UD/NCC Master Gardener

J.W. Wistermayer Replied July 09, 2015, 11:14 AM EDT

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