I got a text from my mum yesterday informing me that her pond was full of wrestling frogs. I think I can safely assume that “wrestling” was my mum’s euphemism for “having sex”. It’s that time of year when all sorts of creatures are busy making babies. The blue tits in my garden are frantically nesting, male blackbirds are squabbling noisily over territory, and I assume rabbits in the fields are enthusiastically doing what rabbits do. Garden ponds will soon be chock full of frogspawn, floating balls of jelly with little, black dots at the centre that will turn into tiny tadpoles and then froglets.
Mum’s wrestling frogs got me thinking. I don’t have a proper wildlife pond, just a tub pond that is home to some nice pond plants (marsh marigold, flag irises, equisetum), and a couple of goldfish. But we do have lots of frogs in the garden. I often come across them when I’m working on the borders. It’s fun to watch them hop about, and they are great predators of garden pests such as slugs and snails. There must be a pond in a nearby garden that they use, but I’d like to encourage them to stay in my garden and produce baby frogs.
In fact, after reading mum’s text, I immediately decided to build a mini frog pond. Within minutes, I had hightailed it outside, after grabbing an old washing up bowl from under the sink, to make a mini pond. The kids helped and it took us about 30 minutes. In fact, it was ridiculously easy to do. If you’d like to make one too, here’s what you’ll need:
- An old washing up bowl (well rinsed out)
- A large rock or roof tile
- Some logs, bark and sticks
- Oxygenating pond weed
First dig out a space in one of your borders and sit the washing up bowl in it. The top edge of the bowl should be flush with the soil level. Next position some logs or bark pieces around the bowl to help it merge into the border. Pour some gravel into the base. It’s important to create an escape route for small mammals and amphibians that may use the pond, so that they do not drown. So place a large rock in one corner or lean a roof tile against the side to make a sloping exit. Finally, fill the washing up bowl with rain water and chuck in the pond weed. A pile of sticks and logs nearby will offer cover for wildlife. You can see in the photo below that we’ve also used a broken terracotta pot to provide shelter (a toad abode?) next to the pond. And I’m going to add few more plants to this part of the border, as I hate bare soil.
Now we’re just waiting for the frogs to find it. The kids are on daily frogspawn watch. I’ll let you know if we find any. Even if the frogs don’t use the mini pond for spawning, I’m sure the birds and a few minibeasts will use it. I’d love to hear if you’re doing anything to help wildlife in your garden this spring.
There are lots of other ways to help frogs and toads in your garden on the RSPB website. And of course it goes without saying that you’ll need to think carefully about safety if you have water and small children in your garden (obviously, use your own judgement here).