If You Build It, They Will Come

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In honor of National Save The Frogs Day I wanted to make our readers aware of just how desperate frogs are for decent places to live and breed, and how fast frogs will find a new water feature. It’s a direct result of there being so little high-quality habitat in the wild. Every little pond or water feature is a beacon, and I certainly don’t have to tell our pond builders out there how quickly the dragonflies and butterflies and birds and frogs respond. 

One particular example always brings a smile to my face. Many years ago we were asked to build a circular patio for a customer at this time of year, in the back yard of a new subdivision. With rain on the way, we worked furiously to dig out the clay in a 16’ diameter circle to about 10” deep before the storm. The rain hit just as we finished raking and tamping the soil. And it rained. And it rained. It rained for over a week. When we got back to the site to finish up almost two weeks later, as we were unloading the tools and wheelbarrows , we noticed our circular excavation was filled to the brim with rainwater. Not unexpected, but the water itself looked very strange indeed – it was jet black in color! 

We came closer, and the black water MOVED. Now we were really interested and dropped to our knees for a better look. Up close, we could see tens of thousands of tiny moving dots, only about an eighth of an inch long, wriggling furiously away from us. I rinsed out my coffee cup and scooped a few dozen up to take a better look. 

There were two shapes visible – the first, a black tear drop, round in front, trailing off to a tiny tail. The vast majority of the wrigglers were this shape. The others, far fewer, were tiny transparent footballs, fatter in the middle, with two black dots – eyes! They were tadpoles and fish fry! We couldn’t figure out how they got there in their thousands – still don’t know to this day. But we did our best to save them.  

We started late that day, after visiting three of our projects in the local area and dumping a bucket of wriggling tadpoles and tiny fry in each. The tadpoles turned out to be spring peepers which found their way out of the ponds and into the trees that season. We still have populations of the fish, a small native minnow, in many of my ponds, where they are excellent insect control. 

IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME! Celebrate Save The Frogs Day on April 25th!

About the Author:


Demi has been in water garden construction since 1986. As Atlantic’s Director of Product Information, if he’s not building water features, he’s writing or talking about them. If you have a design or construction question, he’s the one to ask.

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2 thoughts on “If You Build It, They Will Come

  1. We moved into a new development and when Matt was about 4 or 5 sunk a 36” x 12” deep container and planted a lotus in it. Out there by itself in the middle of a naked landscape. I asked him if he knew what – build it and they will come meant? In 14 days time we had Daphne, water boatman, toads, frogs, tadpoles, dragonflies, water skates, bees, butterflies, moths and beetles among other things.
    Water is a magnet for life!!

    1. What a great childhood he must have had! Please say hello from us. Stay safe and well, hope to see you all soon!

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