How to Make a Frog Pond

Amphibians need our help! They are one of the most imperiled groups of animals in the world, with more than 40% of species threatened with extinction globally. In the United States, amphibian populations are declining by nearly 4% per year — if this rate continues, some species could disappear from up to half their range in just a couple of decades. One of the biggest threats to this group is a disease called chytrid, which has been especially damaging to frog populations. 

Luckily, when it comes to the question of how to help frogs locally, the answer can be surprisingly simple: just add water. Frogs rely on water to lay their eggs and for the tadpole stage of their lifecycle. Even adults typically cannot survive long in dry conditions. 

So, when natural ponds and puddles are filled in or dry up, frogs lose a crucial lifeline. But if you have a yard — or even a small patio — and the right tools, you can create a watery oasis to help frogs and other amphibians thrive. 

Here are a few tips to help you make a frog pond:

1. Get to know the locals

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with your area’s native frogs by using a tool like iNaturalist or a regional field guide. Some frog species might have specific habitat preferences (like smaller, shallower pools or larger, deeper pools), so this can help you decide which size and depth of water feature might work best. When in doubt, contact a local chapter of a conservation group like The Nature Conservancy or The Wildlife Society.

The northern leopard frog was once common throughout much of the U.S. and Canada, but populations are declining today.

2. Pick a location

Experts recommend putting your pond somewhere it will get direct sunlight and isn’t shaded by trees. Make sure there’s enough space around it to plant some native foliage as well. Consider putting the pond somewhere you can easily see it from a balcony or patio, so that you can enjoy the wildlife it attracts!

3. Select your size

Once you’ve got your spot, it’s time to decide how big you want your pond to be. Factors to consider include how much space you have, your preferred shape, and any preferences of local wildlife that you learned in step 1. 

4. Choose your liner

Liners are a crucial part of any pond because they keep water from seeping into the surrounding soil. Some liners are pre-formed in a specific size, while others, like PVC liners, are flexible and more like a tarp. Pick the options that’s right for you.

This small, preformed liner has a variety of depths to support different habitats.

5. Dig a hole

It’s time to break ground! Check out this resource from the USDA for tips on digging and installing ponds depending on the type of liner you’ve selected. It’s a good idea to add some rocks to the edges and bottom of your pond to help hold the liner in place and add some natural elements that can be used as shelter by frogs.

6. Add water and a water pump

Once you’re happy with the shell, grab a hose and fill your pond. You’ll want to get a water pump or waterfall feature for your pond to add movement to the water, which will both keep the water clean and oxygenated and deter pesky mosquitoes. 

7. Add foliage and other touches

Ask a local plant nursery about the best native plants to add in and around your pond. Native habitat like this will provide additional shelter and make it more likely for frogs and other wildlife to move in.

8. Sit back and wait for the magic to happen!

While it might be tempting to try to source some frogs to stock your pond, you should always wait for them to come to you. When frogs are allowed to colonize a new habitat naturally, this limits the likelihood of disease spread. You might be surprised how quickly frogs, birds, and other wildlife find their way to you!

A complete frog pond should have a variety of rocks and native vegetation in and around the water.

What to do if you don’t have space to build a frog pond:

If you don’t have a yard (or aren’t feeling bold enough to break ground just yet) there are still things you can do to help your local amphibians! Many frogs will benefit even from a small tub or bowl of water placed on your patio. Look online for container pond starter kits. 

There are also options that require no water at all. For instance, you can create a shelter for toads by half-burying a broken flower pot or by Googling “toad house” for a variety of ready-made toad abodes. If you have tree frogs in your area, you might be able to provide them a place to hide simply by driving a couple of PVC pipes into the ground

Whether you choose to build a frog pond or a toad house, if you’ve been inspired to help out local amphibians, we want to hear about it! Take a picture of your creation and tag us on Instagram @wildhopetv.