Frogs and toads are a great indicator of a thriving ecosystem existing within the garden, it is therefore advisable to create a welcoming environment for them to live.
They are classified as bioindicators, a living organism which represents the health of the garden, similar to worms and lichens and if any toxins or harsh chemicals are present then these bioindicators may perish. The greatest benefit frogs and toads have to offer is their diet, they consume a variety of insects, a natural method of eliminating the unwanted pests and not having to resort to a synthetic pesticide.
March onwards frogspawn and toadspawn can be seen beneath the surface of ponds and streams, frogspawn takes on the appearance of jelly like eggs, whereas, toadspawn has more of a ribbon like character. The frogspawn dots transmute into comma shape, then into unhatched tadpoles and finally the full metamorphosis is complete from tadpole to frog, this final stage can range from one month to several depending on the species. The tadpole diet of algae changes to a
carnivorous diet for the frog. If there is an abundance of algae and a congenial environment the tadpole can delay its transformation into a frog. However, if algae is sparse and predators abound then they will transform into a frog sooner.
To encourage frogs and toads into the garden a natural environment will have to be created for them which resembles their natural habitat in the wild. Firstly, when choosing plants and shrubs, if possible incorporate native plants, shrubs and grasses opposed to non-native or invasive plants.
The addition of a pond or water-feature is an axiom, it is the breeding ground and without doubt the greatest enticement to allure the amphibians, but ensure the pond has a natural, informal edge creating easier access and wildlife friendly.
Its not just presence of water but also compost heaps, piles of logs or stones where they can seek shelter and prey on slugs and insects too.
It is reputed that frogs and toads can consume up to an astounding one hundred insects each day, this being extremely beneficial to the entire garden including the vegetable garden, thus, requiring little need for pesticides.
Chemicals accumulate in water and being that frogs and toads requiring a moist, damp environment, they would suffer immensely from the run off of pesticide use. For a well balanced ecosystem to exist then why not encourage frogs and toads into the garden, a delight to listen to in during the summer and a natural way to keep the pests at bay.
We often strive for an orderly and well maintained garden, one which looks tidy with regular pruning, mowing of lawns and the weeding of garden beds. Aesthetically pleasing and satisfying this may be, the garden, however, becomes devoid of any mess and untidiness, and this in due course can have an adverse affect on the wildlife and beneficial insects.
The beneficial insects being those which create a natural ecological balance within the garden, attracting a range of prey and predators. These insects and mammals work in harmony and will reduce the unwanted pests which can attack the vegetable garden and shrubs alike. They will also lessen the need for any chemical applications. To entice these insects into the garden, a suitable, natural habitat is required, and the most appropriate is a dead wood habitat, essentially, a pile of logs or a wood stack.
Winter is an ideal time to procure the dead wood, either from gathering any fallen branches within the garden or by pruning the dead limbs and branches, particularly from deciduous trees and shrubs. Avoid collecting the wood from natural woodlands and hedgerows as this will be disrupting an existing habitat and the natural environment.
Alternatively, ask neighbours if they have any excess dead wood they are wanting rid of, I am sure it would be greatly appreciated.
The location of the wood pile within the garden is critical for a successful dead wood habitat, it should be away from direct sunlight and sited in a full shade area, or with dapple light. This environment will augment the wood decay and encourage fungi, mosses, lichens and insects.
To construct a log pile it is advisable to find logs with the bark still attached, the bottom layer of say four to five logs to be partially buried into the ground, the decaying wood beneath the soil’s surface attracts certain types of beetle. Ensure there are nooks and crannies for insects and mammals to enter and then add leaf litter into the gaps to encourage hedgehogs seeking hibernation. Another couple of log rows can be placed on top, the dark and damp conditions will lure centipedes, millipedes and woodlice which in turn attract the predators such as birds, toads and hedgehogs.
A wood stack is constructed with smaller branches and twigs and is just as beneficial as a log pile for wildlife. Firstly, it is recommended that branches/stakes are driven vertically into the ground, forming a rectangular shape and with approximately half metre remaining above ground.
Then start with laying the larger branches at the bottom and begin to fill the formed rectangular shape with the remaining branches and twigs until the desired height is reached.
A mixture of wood is good for both log pile and wood stack, however, poplar and willow cuttings can have a tendency to re-sprout if in prolonged contact with the ground. The wood will slowly decay over a duration of time and more can always be added, thus, a permanent home has now been created to encourage the beneficial insects and assist
towards a balanced ecological garden. If unsure how to dispose of the logs and wood cuttings, then why not transmute them into a dead wood habitat, as dead wood breeds life.
Hello everyone, Green Landscapes Cornwall are sharing with you some ideas about how to implement different features for your garden!