Resident toads are excellent garden inhabitants, consuming pests like ants, beetles, caterpillars, woodlice and slugs.
They hibernate during the winter, often under decks or sheds or in mammal burrows, but you can help to ensure they survive the cold by making a bespoke toad shelter. It'll need to be cool and damp, and out of reach of cats, crows, magpies, rats and hedgehogs. All you need is a few bricks and stones, and some dried leaves.
Female and juvenile frogs will also be looking for a space to hibernate at this time of year – for them you can make a hibernacula using grass clippings and autumn leaves.
Looking for more ways to stay busy in autumn? Check out 10 ways to get ahead in the garden in autumn.
Follow these simple steps to create a winter toad hide.
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You Will Need
- Garden spade
- Autumn leaves
- Old plastic lid
Dig a rectangular hole to a spade's depth, with a sloping approach.
Line the slope and hole with your bricks or tiles for drainage.
Lay stones at the top of them at the deepest point.
Collect and scatter some dead leaves over the stones. This will add a layer of insulation to keep toads warm over the cold winter months.
Lay the plastic lid over the top of the round stones, then place the stone slab directly on top. Ensure there's a small gap between the slab and the brick slop, allowing the toad easy access to the shelter.
More autumn wildlife jobs
- Make your own fat balls or cakes for birds to keep them going through the winter
- Avoid pruning berry-bearing shrubs such as Viburnum opulus, so that birds and small mammals can feed on the fruits
- Look out for signs of hedgehog activity and leave out tinned cat or dog food for them
- Clean out nest boxes. Use boiling water (not insecticides or flea powder) and a scrubbing brush to kill fleas and other parasites
- Plant a wildlife hedge with bare-root plants like hawthorn, to provide shelter and food for wildlife