How to Make a Toad House
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.
Do Toads Visit Your Garden?
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
Questions & Answers
© 2011 Anthony Altorenna