Making a frog pond in northern climates?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about making a frog pond. I’ve been watching a lot of videos about it, but it seems that most of them are made in warmer climates than I’m in (southern Ontario). These videos often don’t seem to take into account overwintering. I was wondering if anybody here might have any tips for building a frog pond, especially when it comes to helping the tadpoles and adults overwinter.


Просто сделать места, где они могли бы уйти в спячку. Думаю, информации по особенностям спячки местных видов земноводных должно быть порядочно.

This UK guide should be pretty transferable - - talks about a “hibernaculum”


Agree with @lera, there’s a plenty of articles about this subject for UK.

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I’ve seen recommendations to make the pond deeper than two feet, to allow animals to spend the winter in the mud below the ice, in a bad year. Also, make sure there is at least one sloping side to the pond, so amphibians and turtles can easily get out of the pond. My personal experience in southern New Hampshire is that constructed pools are readily colonized by amphibians and invertebrates, if the pond is near a natural area.

Lynn Harper/MassWildlife


What species have you found on your property? Do you have any rivers/creeks within several hundred meters?

Some species only breed in the pond and (wood frog, treefrogs) hibernate in leaf litter on land. Toads will create their own burrows. no hibernacula needed.

Greenfrogs and their tadpoles over winter in the ponds, and seem pretty tolerant of anaerobic conditions, but don’t do ponds that freeze solid.

Leopard frogs require deep, well oxygenated water to overwinter in. I’ve found them leaving shallow ponds and migrating to streams and rivers to overwinter.

Your pond would probably benefit the first two groups, however, if you have a leopard frog population nearby- it could potentially adversely affect them (if they try to overwinter in the pond, and it doesn’t have the correct conditions).

Some things to think about. :)

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I don’t know where I’ll be building the pond yet, it’s more of a distant future plan. The species likely to be around would be Green Frogs, Northern Leopard Frogs, Wood Frogs, American Toads, Spring Peepers, and Gray Treefrogs. If I’m lucky, Western Chorus Frogs, Pickerel Frogs, or American Bullfrogs could be in the area.

So what it seems is that the treefrogs, toad, and wood frog would do fine as long as there is more natural area around the pond. The Green and Leopard frogs are the only two species that would likely be around that would require special accommodations?

Constructed ponds can be problematic. Ecologicaly speaking, i can tell you they are often constructed on streams or in wetlands, and disturbing the stream or wetland nearly always causes more damage to the ecosystem than the habitat the pond would create, at least in a cold, wet place like Ontario. One can build a pond in an upland, but then you have to get water to it. Also, in some areas of the US it could be illegal, especially if you are diverting water from a stream or digging out a wetland, for various reasons. I don’t know if that is true in Canada or not. And… it can be hard to keep the pond as a nice pond. They tend to silt up, fill in with wetland plants (can be a good thing but then it isn’t a pond any more), or get algal blooms if they get too warm, etc. Other options, though they might not allow for frog breeding, could be creating or restoring a wetland if you have a source of water, or similarly creating rain gardens or little stormwater ponds, which generally wouldn’t need any form of permit or anything (though again I don’t know much about how that works in Ontario), or creating tiny pond-like features. I am trying to create a bog in an old cattle trough, though i just started it and have no idea if it will work. We have a tiny seasonal spring which I am restoring a little wetland in, there are a few little pools in it but i don’t think any are big enough for amphibian breeding. I did get some water striders and oarsman beetles last year.


I built a natural clay frog pond during summer and green frogs have already laid there eggs there, along with some assorted bullfrogs and pickerels that showed up. The pond is about four feet deep in most areas with lily pads and sunken branches, so the frogs and tadpoles have somewhere to hide. Now that it’s winter it freezes on the top, but only the first half inch or so. If you really are worried about overwintering, dig it a foot or two deeper and break holes into the ice. You can also dig a hole about two or three feet deep with gentle slopes, throw a bunch of branches in, cover it with leaves and dirt, and this creates a hibernaculum for amphibians and some reptiles.


Here is a handy guide on building ponds from the USDA. It still could be useful. :)

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A lot of the issues you mentioned are based on location. If I’m not building a pond in a pre-existing wetland, or on top of a hill, then that shouldn’t be much of a problem, right?

How would you suggest going about smaller scale features, such as stormwater ponds, or restoring existing wetland?

Find an area that is unusually muddy and dig a hole a foot or two deep and wait for it to rain. If it fills up and holds water until the next rain then you have a winner and you could start working on the pond or wetland. My pond fills up to the very top when it rains but this summer we had a drought and it went from four feet deep to only three inches at the deepest part for nearly a month. This is normal and as the years go by and silt builds up, plants grow in, etc, the pond will strengthen and hold water longer


That sounds great ! Self-filling wetlands would be much better than human-filled, so the holding the rain test sounds great

I would love to have frog pond I live in New Zealand so there is not too many native species but does anyone now the best native species of frog that would be good and available to me ?

I think that is a great question, and one that n answer to would be useful for many people, and that i would like to share with friends and acquaintances with the same plan - though I doubt there will be an easy answer - unless you live in one of the few remaining habitats where native frogs have not become extinct due to pesticides, exotic frogs, the wrong vegetation, drainage of wet land etc…

When I learned 20 years ago of the endangered native frog species and their replacement by exotic frogs released from kindergartens and schools etc or escaped from ponds into streams, I have been “anti” exotic frogs…but perhaps in some areas the native ones are already extinct and the exotic would fill an ecological gap???

There was an interesting article under the Taxon info for Archey’s frog, I think it was, about research into existing populations that were dying off at the time of the research, which linked the problem to agrichemical use among other things. If you learn any more do let us know!

well i live on the Canterbury plains so not much chance of native frogs being around here and there are no nearby natural streams

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I would guess that any introduction of a native species would have to be supported by the establishment of appropriate habitat, and would probably require expert supervision as they are all endangered I think and any spawn or frogs would be protected? One hopes. It would be great if it could be done but I know nothing about plains…or frogs. I hope there is somebody on the forum who does.

Just spotted that there are Conservation Evidence summaries for both

pond building for amphibia (linking to separate summaries for different groups)

and artificial hibernacula

TLDR - generally beneficial; much more evidence has been gathered on pond creation than hibernacula.

well, that’s how you end up putting a pond in a super degraded wetland. If you have a place that is unusually muddy, you’d probably be better off doing some research as to what sort of wetland it may have been and trying to restore that instead. We had a similar situation on our land and how have a surprisingly large wetland with a bunch of native plants that is also used by animals including frogs. It has a little seasonal pool but is a lot more diverse than the ponds I see around here where people just dig holes in the ground where it’s wet.

That being said, the degraded wetland has probably been ditched, drained, etc so the process of restoring it might involve building small pools or ponds! It’s just best to mimic/repeat natural ecology because that’s what the species there are adapted to. In my case i attempted to mimic beaver dams plus getting the little seasonal pool which surprisingly has even been colonized by oarsman beetles and water striders! But there is more intact habitat not far away in this case.


Restoring a wetland sounds like a much bigger task than just making one pond. Do you have any resources suggesting how to do it?