Anthony enjoys spending time in the workshop, the kitchen, the garden, and out fishing. Many of his projects are featured in his yard.
Turn an Old Flowerpot Into a Toad House
Toads eat a wide variety of insect pests, and they are welcome visitors to our garden. Camouflaged and often hard to spot until they hop out of the way, toads search through mulch and around plants in search of their insect prey.
During the hottest times of the day, toads will seek out a cool and shady spot where they can borrow down into the ground and conserve their precious moisture, and making a toad house for the garden gives them an inviting place to stay.
A toad house offers toads with protection from the weather and from predators, and a toad abode is easy to make from an inverted terracotta flowerpot. Decorated with pieces of Wampum and topped with a mossy roof, our little toad house is a simple yet interesting and whimsical addition to the garden. Make several, and place the toad houses in different areas throughout your yard or give one as a gift to a gardening friend.
How to Make a Toad House
Things You Need:
- Terracotta Flowerpot and Saucer
- Hot Glue Gun and Glue Sticks
- Pieces of Wampum(or mosaic tiles, pebbles or shells)
- Sand Grout (optional, but recommended)
To make the toad house, start by chipping out a small opening for the doorway in the rim of the flowerpot. The terracotta is both tough and brittle, and is difficult to break cleanly with a hammer or pliers.
Draw out the semi-circular opening for the doorway in pencil and then use a small cutoff disk to cut a groove along the pencil line. Small cutoff disks are available at hardware stores and home centers, and fit into either a Dremel rotary tool or a standard drill.
Score the inside of the flowerpot along the backside of the doorway, and then snap out the terracotta pieces with pliers. Clean up the rough (or sharp) edges with sandpaper or a metal file.
To highlight the doorway, hot glue a small piece of old rope along the edge of the opening. Spread out the Wampum, arranging the pieces by color, shape and size shape to make it easier to find the 'right' piece as you hot glue the shells to the side of the flowerpot. It always takes more pieces than expected to completely cover a toad house, so it pays to have lots of Wampum pieces to choose from before getting started.
For variety, add pieces of colored sea glass, small shells and other colorful trinkets along with the Wampum pieces. Starting at the opening to the doorway, spread a thick layer of hot glue on the backside of a piece of Wampum and press it into position against the side of the pot. Hold the piece in place for a moment to allow the glue to set. Then glue and press the next piece of Wampum into place.
Continue working around the flowerpot, fitting and gluing pieces of Wampum to the side of the flowerpot and pressing each piece firmly to ensure good adhesion. Try to keep the gaps between the pieces of Wampum small and uniform.
After covering the flowerpot with Wampum, spreading a layer of sand grout over the toad house will fill in all of the gaps between the pieces of Wampum. Available at craft stores, sand grout comes in a variety of colors. Choose a neutral colored grout to emphasize the colors of the Wampum.
Mix the grout with water according the manufacturer's directions, until the grout resembles the consistency of loose pancake batter. Spread a layer of grout on to the toad house, gently pressing it into the gaps between the pieces of Wampum. Wipe away the extra grout covering any of the Wampum and smooth out grout lines between the pieces.
As the grout sets up, a haze begins to form. Using a damp sponge, clean away any remaining grout from the surface of the Wampum and finish smoothing over the grout lines between each piece. Allow the finished toad house to dry.
Place the toad house in a shady area of the garden, near groups of perennials or near the base of a small shrub. Bury the rim into the soil to stabilize the pot.
Fill the saucer of the flowerpot with potting mix, and press pieces of moss into the soil. Place the saucer on top of the inverted flowerpot as the roof of the toad house. Keep the moss moist until it takes root in the soil. Over time, the moss will crept over the edges of the saucer. The toad house is ready for new tenants.
Toads have a voracious appetite for bugs, and can eat thousands of insects over their lifetme.
Make a Simple Toad Abode
Quick and easy, this undecorated version of the toad house boasts a naturally aging mossy patina. A light hammer strike against the rim of the flowerpot produced the chipped opening. The terracotta is both tough and brittle, and is difficult to break cleanly. Try to break out a semi-circular opening about 2 inches across, though the size and shape is not critical.
The roof of the toad abode is the moss-filled saucer, placed on top of the inverted flowerpot. Fill the saucer with potting mix, and press pieces of moss into the soil.
Keep the moss moist until it takes root in the soil. Place the finished toad house in a shady area of the garden, near groups of perennials or near the base of a small shrub. Bury the rim into the soil to stabilize the pot.
- Toads are found across the US and Europe so even if you haven't seen one, toads might be living in your garden.
- Toads eat slugs, snails, grasshoppers and other little critters that like to eat your plants.
- Toads do not cause warts, but they do excrete a poisonous substance from glands at the back of their head and behind their ears that makes them unpleasant tasting prey for birds. Always wash your hands after handling a toad.
- Like frogs, toads lay their eggs in shallow water. A small backyard pond may encourage toads to breed, and provide a place for baby tadpoles to grow and develop into the next generation of toads.
- Toads are most active in the evening, but are often seen during the day. Because their skin can dry out from excessive heat and sunlight, toads typically stay in moist, cooler areas of the garden during the day.
Do Not Use Insecticides or Pesticides!
Toad can die from eating poisoned bugs
Toads in the Garden - by P. Allen Smith
Did you know that one toad can eat from ten to twenty thousand insects a year? Considering that toads can live up to fifteen years, you have to take housing the toads seriously. That is a lot of insect control!
What Is Wampum?
Decorate Your Toad House with Pieces of Colorful Shells
Wampum is the sacred beads made by Native Americans from pieces of clam and whelk shells found along the beaches of the northeastern United States. Traditionally made from the white and purple colored parts of the shell and then polished smooth, the Native Americans used Wampum beadwork for decorations on ceremonial belts and clothing, and as currency when trading with other tribes and with the early European settlers.
Pieces of purple and white Wampum clam shell, tumbled smooth by the actions of the ocean waves, still wash up along the beaches of the Northeast. Finding pieces of Wampum is as easy as walking the beach at low tide and looking for shiny pieces of shell lying amongst the sand and pebbles. Whitish-purple pieces are the most common pieces of Wampum on the beach, and the dark purple pieces are the most desirable.
Certify Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat
National Widlife Federation
For over 35 years, the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has encouraged homeowners, schools, corporations and municipalities to incorporate the needs of the local wildlife into their landscape design. So far, the NWF has recognized the efforts of nearly 140,000 individuals and organizations who plant native shrubs and plants for food, cover and places for raising their young, provide include a source of drinking water, and add nesting boxes for cavity nesting birds.
Please visit the NWF website for additional information on their official Certified Wildlife Habitat program.
A New Toad House for the Garden
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna
Tell Us About the Toads in Your Garden
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on August 04, 2019:
This article came at the right time. I have been looking for a toad house and most ready mades are way too expensive.
TanoCalvenoa on July 25, 2013:
I've seen big fat toads in my neighborhood, only a few times. Have never had one in my yard. I live in Southern California, and we mostly have small frogs in the hills, near creeks and reservoirs.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on August 28, 2012:
I like this idea. Right now I have Fowler's Toad in my garden which is a tiny one and also a spotted frog called the Pickeral Frog. A few times I've seen gray tree frogs. I think I'll grow moss on my clay pot since I already have a moss garden. Then it will fit right in.
dpgibble on August 18, 2012:
@LiteraryMind: We created two small ponds near our house and are now blessed with tens of thousands of toads each year. They also sing for several weeks each March.
spiffydoo on August 08, 2012:
I am going to make a toad abode for my garden. I already have a butterfly garden so I think the toads will enjoy the company.
Lorelei Cohen from Canada on July 12, 2012:
We don't have toads in the garden here as we are too far from water but I still want a toad house. Maybe if I am lucky my toadhouse will persuade a tiny fairy or two to take up house in it.
Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on July 06, 2012:
In all the years I have lived in this house, I have never seen a toad. We are in a rural area. Seems odd. Maybe if I make a toad house they will come.
Lori Green from Las Vegas on June 11, 2012:
I don't have toads where I am now but had them back where I used to live. They were fantastic for insect control. I never used anything artificial in my garden. I didn't have to. I had toad homes there.
anonymous on June 04, 2012:
There just seems to be something special about having a toad house, I think the fairy's know that they are welcome when they see someone has made provision for the toads!
Loulie LM on April 20, 2012:
Hi again Anthony,I thought of you the other day... I was sorting through some shells our family found at the beach. The shells had been sitting outside for a long time. When I picked up a big conch shell, a frog was inside!! He did NOT want to leave "his" shell, so I moved it to a different, more hidden location and left him in there. :)
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on April 14, 2012:
Toads are often taken for granted but most enjoyed by children. Anice home for them would be decent.
Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on April 06, 2012:
What a neat idea to build a toad house, sounds fun and functional
flicker lm on March 30, 2012:
I love seeing toads in my garden and around the house. There are some in the woods that are tiny but they leap amazingly high and far! I loved the photo of your toad house in the intro and the great step-by-step "how to" instructions.
KimGiancaterino on March 26, 2012:
I've never seen toads in our garden, but put a toad house out just in case. Just because they're so cute. Our kitten loved it last summer, but is getting too big now.
iWriteaLot on March 24, 2012:
Cool! We have a couple of toads who hang out around the garage door in the evening. I'm going to make them some little toad houses!
Peggy Hazelwood from Desert Southwest, U.S.A. on March 24, 2012:
What a great idea. This little toad house would look cute and provide shelter for Mr. Toad.
Stephanie from DeFuniak Springs on March 23, 2012:
Great Lens! Never realized they would be beneficial! I think I will make a few of these for the front yard and around my greenhouse!
anonymous on March 23, 2012:
Time to get those toad houses out, its spring, stopped by to FB.
bjslapidary on March 23, 2012:
Love the toad house. Bookmarking this lens. Need to build one or two. Love toads.
Vicki Green from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA on March 22, 2012:
Love the toad house - great instructions and photos! ~blessed
Jules Corriere from Jonesborough TN on March 21, 2012:
What a super idea-- and a fun, creative way for kids to get involved in gardening, too. If they help make the toad home for the garden, chances are they will check the garden often to see the toad. What a terrific idea.Blessed.
julieannbrady on March 21, 2012:
I think a toad abode sounds quite whimsical. I don't see as many toads as I do the little lizards. I've got a family of three that live in the corner of the roof over my Florida Room. I bet they'd love that toad abode!
seojyo on March 20, 2012:
hey i loved the toad house and its preparation
Loulie LM on March 19, 2012:
One more thing... Have you ever seen toads in your toad houses?
anonymous on March 19, 2012:
I am going to make a few, great tutorial. We built a pond last year and have a beautiful green frog , but no toads yet. Maybe this year :)
Fantastic Voyages from Texas on March 19, 2012:
I have a lot of toads at my house, but never considered making them a house. This is a great idea. Thanks!
IYenForZen on March 18, 2012:
Thanks to your lens, I made my own toad house! Thanks!
getmoreinfo on March 18, 2012:
Toads are fun, very nice houses too.
DebMartin on March 13, 2012:
I love toads and your houses are charming. I'm going to do it! Thanks. d
anonymous on January 21, 2012:
I would love to have a garden so I can have a toad house, returning just to smile and enjoy your creations!
Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on November 18, 2011:
I love frogs and toads. In my garden in Wimbledon I found about 15 varieties of frog and toad, mostly very small. When I lived in Indiana there was a huge toad that I regularly saw and used to pet. Love the idea of the toad house, might have to build one, there are parts of our garden that are quite damp.
anonymous on November 17, 2011:
I LOVE this! I never thought about making a house for a toad. It was totally not on my radar. I figured they.... Well, I didn't know what they did actually! I wish I could build this one now, but the place where I rent puts a lot of pesticide on the lawns unfortunately. There are plenty of toads at a weird swampy-oasis behind our neighborhood though. Yay for toads!
Andy-Po on November 05, 2011:
Excellent lens. I would love to have a toad-house in the garden.
Paul from Liverpool, England on October 31, 2011:
Memories of childhood when I lived near a brook filled with toads, frogs, newts, sticklebacks (and the dread Great Diving Beetle).
pawpaw911 on October 18, 2011:
Another great idea. We have several toads that live in our yard, so I might have to give this a try. I really have to watch for them when I mow.
JoshK47 on October 08, 2011:
Great read - I love little creatures in the garden. :)
dwnovacek on October 05, 2011:
We have lots of toads in our backyard, but I'd never heard of a "toad house." Another great project for my family. As always, you've put together a beautiful and informative lens. Angel Blessed!
KarenTBTEN on October 05, 2011:
I had never heard of a toad house. It looks like they're both attractive and functional.
jlshernandez on October 04, 2011:
What a delightful find amongst your many neat lenses. I have never heard of a toad house or wampum and I am glad I learned something today. I have never seen a toad or frog around my yard but I have heard them. I would not mind building a toad house just in case a visitor comes by. Blessed by a SquidAngel.
Renaissance Woman from Colorado on October 02, 2011:
This is a really cool lens. I enjoyed learning both about toads and Wampum. I did not realize that Native Americans used the purple and white clam and whelk shells for their sacred beads. Thanks for all that you taught me today. Appreciated!
Anthony Altorenna (author) from Connecticut on September 24, 2011:
@orange3 lm: The toad house is inexpensive and easy to make. I hope you give it a try. Thanks for stopping by!
orange3 lm on September 18, 2011:
Great ideas for making your own toad house. Thanks
anonymous on August 28, 2011:
This brought back memories of back in the 70's when my sister decided to make a toad house but hers was not this fancy tech guy version. I had to answer no in your poll because I don't have a garden right now for toads to visit. Another amazingly well don tutorial with plenty of toad information included. Many would not have thought about not using insecticides because it would poison their dear toad.
Moe Wood from Eastern Ontario on August 27, 2011:
I love toads. I never thought much of them until I moved into our current home 10 years ago. There is one who has grown up with us. He's the size of the palm of my hand. He's had a few close calls over the years. One year I rescue him literally from the jaws of a snake, and another year I accidentally sliced his side with a garden tool. There are two or three about half his size that also live in the yard. And of course small ones when it's that time of year. I've always wanted to add toad homes to the garden but felt they were too expensive to buy. I like your idea of making them. Clay pots are pretty inexpensive and they would be fun to decorate. Currently, there is a toad living in the cedar mulch we have sitting in the front yard (yep, have to be extra careful when digging. I've relocated him a few times but he keeps going back.
Yvonne L B from Covington, LA on August 10, 2011:
This is a great lens. We have toad houses made from clay pots all around our certified backyard habitat. But ours are not as nice as yours. I love the dish on top with moss. Go Toads! Sprinkled with dust from the Angel of the farmyard on a Back to School Field Trip.