Natural Balance for the Garden: Create a Toad House


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Two Toad Houses 
Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg

While working on my latest garden idea, my dad’s work ethic and singsong grace filled the air. Although Dad died over three years ago, the sounds of roofers nearby, whistling their workaday tunes, brought his memory to life. Dad was a whistling carpenter for most of his 90 years...though he insisted on using the title “builder.” He was creative and could find a use for most any everyday object.

Today, I was priming a collection of terracotta pots, readying them for an alternative use: toad houses! As I’ve been planting and weeding in my flower garden this spring, I’ve had the privilege to see a few toads hopping through. These nocturnal creatures eat up to 10,000 pests in a summer -- from spiders to slugs, grubs, snails, moths, and other pesky insects. My garden currently has two beautiful rose bushes, which inevitably become plagued by aphids in summer. I’m hoping that, by placing two of my toad houses beneath these bushes, I will soon welcome more toads as natural pest deterrents. No need for pesticides, which can harm toads (as well as damage many necessary garden critters). Dad would be pleased by the utilitarian use of these small houses.

Toad House Primed
Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg

An Inviting Home for Amphibians

An upside-down clay pot serves as an inviting home for these amphibians, as toads like to live in cool, damp places such as under tree roots, boards and rocks. A toad house can be made using a plastic container or a clay pot. Clay will serve as a cooler, more natural environment for these garden helpers. And because these miniature homes will adorn my garden, I’ve turned them into garden decor. After coating the outside of the terracotta pots with white primer, I used acrylic paints to decorate them. Spray polyurethane will serve as a protective coating.



Toad House Flower Top
Photo by Barbara Hengstenberg

Barbara K.
1/6/2021 12:17:33 PM

By using paint and sealer, you are also blocking the properties that make clay pots breathable and therefore damp and cool. They may look cute, but the most natural solution is to leave them ... well ... natural. (another) Barbara


WildesArt
1/6/2021 9:01:14 AM

Thanks for pointing that out. I should have made it clear in the article to use nontoxic paints and sealers. Also, that I left the inside of the toad house unpainted and unsealed. Barbara Hengstenberg


Kathi
1/5/2021 5:50:08 PM

If it is labeled nontoxic it should be fine.




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