Garden Toad House How-To
Make a little clay home for these garden helpers.
Most people don’t think of toads as beneficial creatures in the garden. So much press is given to the necessity of bees, butterflies and ladybugs for a healthy garden. But the lumpy, bumpy (perhaps even a bit ugly) toad is incredibly valuable in the garden. They are voracious carnivores that eat many of the pests that wreak havoc on plants. They love slugs, flies and pretty much anything they can fit in thier mouth. An adult toad can eat up to 1,000 insects each night! How should you reward the unsung amphibious garden hero? Build it a house!
- air dry terracotta clay
- artificial leaf (or real)
- mini rolling pin
- clay needle tool
- paint brush
- craft paints
Cut a hunk of clay about the size of a softball. It will be stiff right out of the package. You will need to “wedge” it to help soften it up and get the air bubbles out. You do this by slapping the piece of clay down onto a hard surface. Then, compress the clay down and pick it up and do it again. Do not knead the clay. Repeat the slapping/compressing steps a few times. You will feel the clay soften up to become the right consistency.
Roll out the piece of clay. If you want the clay to be an even thickness, use a rolling pin and 1/4 inch slats. This will ensure the clay to be a uniform 1/4 inch thickness.
Lay the leaf onto the clay. Use a smaller roller to gently press the leaf onto the surface.
Once you have the leaf impression, use a needle tool to carefully cut around the impression.
Gently remove the excess clay from the leaf (or leaves). Place cut-out leaf form onto a small curved surface like a small upturned bowl or, in this case, a shell, to help them dry with a small opening for the toads. Cover with a plastic bag and let the leaf dry for 24-48 hours. The key is to let it dry slowly. If it dries too quickly, it can crack.
Once the leaf is dry, use craft paint to give it some color.
If your leaf toad house will be in an area exposed to weather, add a protective coat of polyurethane.
Place the little leaf house in your garden and enjoy a pest-free growing season.