Frogs can be fun and help your garden

September 7, 2010

By Elizabeth DeVos

This frog was photographed on a peony in Sammamish. Frogs can be helpful in keeping a garden healthy and pest free. By Jeanine Bracco

They can be cute, slimy, freak people out, loud when you’re trying to sleep and children sometimes love to catch them.

Don’t be alarmed if frogs are in your yard — these amphibians mean that you have a healthy environment, free of pesticides and other harmful products.

“They eat insects and a lot of other smaller things that may be harmful to your garden,” said Michael Aguilar, certified professional horticulturalist and lawn and garden specialist at The Grange.

Attracting frogs into your yard can be easy; there are a few things that need to be done in order to do it.

Frogs absorb air and water through their skin, and are only able to live in clean water. Do not use pesticides; allow frogs to get rid of insects for you. A single toad can eat upward of 10,000 insects in one summer, according to hubpages.com.

“They eat insects that are going to potentially hurt other plants,” Aguilar said.

Frogs consider moths, mosquitoes, snails, slugs, flies, fungus gnats, beetles and cockroaches living in different plants food.

Begin to improve soil conditions by creating an organic yard, lessening your need for pesticides, fertilizers and herbicides.

“Frogs and little toads love the water,” Aguilar said. “They prefer wet conditions.”

As they absorb water through their skin, if you have a natural pond in your yard, toads and frogs will naturally come into your yard. The best way to attract frogs is to create a pond. If you do not have a pond you can convince these little creatures to enter your yard by having a shallow basin of water.

Ponds should have a shallow area and a deep area for frogs to winter in. It’s recommended that it be about six feet deep on one end and shallower on the other end.

Keep a fair amount of vegetation in the pond to allow frogs to hide in. They enjoy lily pads as a way to hide from predators.

“Provide cover for frogs, whether it be with foliage or something else,” said Sarah A. Meier, certified professional horticulturalist at Hayes Nursery. “Some good plants that provide nice shelter are hosta plants. They have big, broad-leaf coverage for frogs from predators.”

Make the pond easy for frogs to get in and out of — don’t have steep sides, but rather, gradual sides that make it easy to climb in and out of. The use of sticks that are half in the water and half out of the water allows for easier access in and out of the pond, too. Rocks allow frogs a place to hide from predators and the warm summer sun. Make sure that the pond does not have any kind of chemicals in it, which can harm frogs.

The best way to attract frogs into your yard is to wait patiently for them to come to you, which may take a few years, according to the Internet site Wildlife Gardeners.

Aguilar recommends that you check with any local laws to make sure that you’re not releasing something that is going to be hazardous to the ecosystem.

“You would probably want to check which frogs are native to our area before you introduce them to your yard,” Meier said. “If you introduce a non-native species into your yard, they can out compete the native species.”

You can check at local pet stores, or do a Google search for frogs that are native to the area.

The shores of Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish and boggy areas are a good place to collect frogs and tadpoles, according to Meier. In late July and early August, you can find egg sacks. Before you collect frogs from the wild, make sure it is legal, Meier said.

Elizabeth DeVos: 392-6434 or isspress@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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