Enjoy hearing frogs in the wild and think you might like to hear them around your home too? Read on to discover 4 simple steps to making your garden suitable and why having frogs in your yard is a hands-down good thing.

A brown tree frog among greenery-credit Martin Stokes
A brown tree frog. Photo: Martin Stokes.

Adelaide is home to 6 native frog species. It also used to be home to many watercourses (such as creeks and rivers) that wound their way across the plains, often ending in wetlands – of course, the frogs loved this.

With many of our natural watercourses lost or modified to reduce flood risk, or for housing and agriculture, our frogs haven’t had as many places to live. Introduced species and escaped garden plants have impacted them too.

Luckily, creating a frog garden can replace some of this lost habitat and help increase the diversity of plants and animals found in your yard – and across Adelaide.

By creating a yard that is suitable for frogs and other wildlife, like native butterflies and bees, you’ll benefit from lower maintenance costs as the native plants they love tend to need less TLC, help conserve local plants and animals, and reduce the threat of spreading introduced weeds. Plus, there’s the joy of seeing and hearing frogs around your home.

Best of all, it’s pretty easy to do. Keep reading to learn how to get started on attracting frogs to your garden.

eastern banjo frog in water-credit Martin Stokes
An eastern banjo frog in water. Photo: Martin Stokes.

1. Create a frog pond

Water plays an important role in the lifecycle of frogs – most species breed and spend the early stages of their lives, as eggs and tadpoles, living in it.

Frogs also have semi-permeable skin, allowing them to absorb moisture and oxygen. They do most of their breathing directly through their skin, and need to be wet or moist so the oxygen can dissolve and be used.

So, to improve your chances of frogs moving into your yard, you’ll need to have water available for them – and a great way to do this is with a pond.

Ideally your pond should:

  • be protected from predators – that includes cats and dogs
  • have two-thirds shaded at all times
  • be near native plants (see step 2 for more detail)
  • not directly or indirectly enter a waterway
  • be filled with water year-round
  • have gently sloped edges so frogs that live on land can get in and out easily
  • be in a spot that won’t keep you or the neighbours awake (frogs can be noisy).

If you have children, you’ll also want to think about water safety when you create your pond.

Creating the pond itself can then be pretty simple. You could use a prefabricated frog pond (basically a pre-made one bought from a gardening store), pond liner or really anything that holds water – from an old-school laundry tub to one of those plastic kid’s pools.

An added bonus to creating a frog pond is that other species will use it too – like birds needing a drink on a hot day. And it’s a lovely garden feature.

2. Add native plants

Planting native species will give frogs somewhere to hang out and attract the insects that they love to eat.

Aim for a variety of native grasses, reeds, dense groundcovers, small shrubs, ferns and sedges around the pond, with the tallest plants at the back.

Clumping plants like mat-rush and flax-lily are great options. For other ideas, check out our Adelaide or coastal gardening guides. (Note – our coastal guide is great for properties anywhere within 5 km of the coast)

3. Reduce chemicals and pollutants

Because of their semi-permeable skin, which is also very sensitive, frogs are easily harmed by chemicals and other pollutants that find their way into their watery homes.

To keep your yard frog-friendly, reduce chemical use around your home and make sure that no run-off containing pollutants – think compost bins or where you use fertilisers – will get into the pond.

Remember that frogs eat insects and that spraying bugs with poison can have a flow-on effect.

spotted marsh frog-credit Steve Walker
A spotted marsh frog. Photo: Steve Walker.

4. Wait for frogs

Resist the urge to buy frogs from a pet store or move them from their natural habitat to your yard.

Moving frogs or tadpoles can transfer diseases and impact on any frogs that might already be hanging out in your local area, even if they’re not in your yard.

Frogs are super skilled at finding new habitats so, if you’ve delivered the goods, it won’t take long for them to move in.

What frogs might visit my garden?

Adelaide’s 6 native frog species are:

  • common froglet (Crinia signifera)
  • spotted marsh frog or spotted grass frog (Limnodynastes tasmaniensis),
  • eastern banjo frog, pobblebonk or bullfrog (Limnodynastes dumerilii)
  • Ewing’s tree frog or brown tree frog (Litoria ewingi)
  • painted frog (Neobatrachus pictus)
  • Bibron’s toadlet (Pseudophyrne bibronii).

So with the right set-up, these are the native frogs that you should keep an eye out for in your garden.

Bibron’s toadlet is the least likely to spot, as it is considered threatened in South Australia, and has special habitat requirement.

If you’d like to specifically attract Bibron’s toadlet you’ll need a pond with lots of leaf litter and debris that dries out over summer and gets refilled following the autumn rains.

Learn about the 4 of these native frog species that are breeding in August.

In addition to our local native frogs, you may also be visited by Peron’s tree frog (Litoria peronii) – an introduced Australian native frog that has become established in Adelaide.

Bibron's toadlet-credit Steve Walker
Bibron's toadlet. Photo: Steve Walker.

What frogs can live together?

Frogs that like the same habitat are often found together. In Adelaide, that means common froglets, spotted marsh frogs, brown tree frogs and eastern banjo frogs.

Larger frogs do tend to eat smaller ones though, so if you’ve got eastern banjo frogs, they may snack on the smaller frogs like common froglets, especially when they have freshly transformed from tadpole to frog, as they’re only about 8 mm long.

However, if you provide enough native plants that are dense and varied, you’ll give the little ones a fighting chance.

Get involved in frog conservation

Help experts keep track of how frogs are going in Adelaide by monitoring frogs with FrogWatch SA.

It’s super simple:

  1. Register on the FrogWatch SA website.
  2. Record frogs when you’re out and about.
  3. Submit your recordings via the FrogSpotter app or FrogWatch website.

You don’t need to be able to ID the species either! Once your recording has been verified by a FrogWatch SA expert, you’ll get an email telling you what, if any, frog species were calling.

Learn more about frogs on our ID chart.

This blog was originally published on 11 August 2022.

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