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Frogs are a much loved native species, with the smoothed-skinned common frog widespread throughout the UK. They are not bright green as often depicted in cartoons, but have a colouring that varies from brown to grey or olive green.
Other distinctive features include dark blotches all over their body, a dark stripe across their eyes, and dark bands across their front and back feet. Frogs are able to breathe through their skin as well as their lungs, which enables them to survive both underwater and on dry land.
In winter, frogs hibernate in sheltered damp places. This may be in the mud and decaying vegetation at the bottom of a pond, or on land amongst piles of logs, leaves, or stones. They seek out shallow still water bodies including garden ponds during the spring time to breed. Here are some essential tips to encourage frogs to your pond.
Consider the shape and size of the pond
Any size of pond will attract frogs, but ideally it should be at least 2m x 2m and 60cm deep to encourage them to use it as a breeding site. If it is too shallow, frogs will not have enough protection from deep freezes if they choose to overwinter at the bottom of the pond, and it will also make them easy prey for birds and mammals.
When digging out the pond, the most important feature to include is gently sloping sides and tiered edges. This will make it easier for amphibians to enter and exit the pond and allow them to bask in warmer weather, and will provide a surface to put pond plants on.
Curved sides rather than straight edges are more hospitable for plants and wildlife, as well as looking more visually pleasing. A kidney shape is popular to create a nice flowing natural effect.
Choose a sunny spot with some shade
Frogs like warm water, so ideally pick a sunny spot in your garden. Some shade is useful so that you can grow a good variety of plants in the pond, but avoid placing directly under large overhanging tree branches, as too many fallen leaves can pollute the water and starve it of oxygen.
Remove chloramine from tap water
Ideally, fill up the pond with rainwater that has been collected in a water butt. If this is not possible, you can use tap water but it should not be added directly. This is because drinking water is treated with chlorine and chloramine (chemically bonded chlorine and ammonia) to kill off bacteria.
Chlorine will dissipate within a day or two at most, but chloramine persists for weeks, is harmful to frogs and needs to be removed. This can be done with a conditioning treatment added to the water, or via a filtration process. This is relatively quick and inexpensive to do.
Introduce frog friendly plants
Plants provide shelter, hiding places, breeding sites, and food for amphibians as well as maintaining good water quality in the pond. Water lilies are a great aquatic plant for frogs, because they will shelter underneath them, bask on the leaf surface, and lay eggs on the underside of the leaves.
The water lily produces attractive flowers from June to September, which add visual interest to the pond and also help to attract pollinating insects and other invertebrates that frogs will feed on. If you have a smaller pond and are worried about the pads overpowering the surface, choose a small or dwarf variety. See our water lilies classified by size HERE. Other good surface plants include Frogbit and Water soldiers.
For marginal pond plants to place around the edges, a combination of spreading and rafting varieties to help provide cover, and other insect friendly plants that flower throughout the growing season is ideal. Good marginals for cover include Water forget-me-not, Brooklime, Creeping jenny and Bog bean (not for small ponds) and all are excellent flowerers. Other great plants for attracting insects include Marsh marigold, any water irises, Water mint, Purple loosestrife, Gypsywort and Water plantain. .
Submerged plants are essential for keeping algae growth at bay and maintaining a good balance of nutrients. They also provide places for tadpoles and froglets to hide from predators and shelter during very hot weather. Useful species to consider include r
Hornwort, Water starwort, and Water violet.
Do not put fish in your pond
Fish will prey on frogspawn and tadpoles, so avoid adding fish to your pond if you want to make it frog friendly. Fish also tend to eat other forms of wildlife and plants, reducing the biodiversity of the pond and limiting the variety of insects, birds, and other amphibians that it would otherwise be likely to attract.
Do not bring frogs to your pond from other sites
It might seem like a good idea to take frogspawn from another site if your pond is lacking, especially if there seems to be an overabundance elsewhere. However, this carries the risk of introducing diseases and invasive species to your pond and should be avoided.
Create damp areas outside the pond
When frogs first leave the pond, they can be prone to drying out quickly especially in warm sunny weather. Therefore, avoid having large stretches of dry areas such as paving and patios next to your pond, and instead have some well-watered borders or a moist compost heap that they can retreat to.
A bog garden is ideal next to a pond and can be kept irrigated by the overflow from the pond. Damp loving plants can be planted in the bog to provide cover and shelter for frogs and other amphibians moving in and out of the pond to other parts of your garden. Water avens, Marsh cinquefoil, Hostas and ferns are ideal for this purpose.
Avoid using chemical fertilisers and pesticides in your garden
Wherever possible, do not use any chemical-based fertilisers or pesticides anywhere in your garden. This is because during heavy rainfall they can be washed into your pond, harming wildlife and disrupting the nutrient balance in the water. Fertilisers may encourage excessive algae growth, which in turn starves the water of oxygen and causes the other plants to die.
Leave sections of your lawn unmown
During the summertime when froglets are leaving the water, they will often seek out long grass to hide in. A common hazard is being struck down by a strimmer or mower. Therefore it is helpful to leave a section of unmown grass near your pond. If this is not desirable, walk up and down the lawn to frighten away any loitering amphibians before you begin mowing.