The habitat garden in winter


Snow covering leaves ©Janet Allen
Believe it or not, there's leaf litter and logs under that snow

Though we don't see them in winter, insects are there in our yard. We try to provide the cover they need, which for many kinds of insects also functions as their place to raise young.

Logs and leaf litter are important places for insects to overwinter. We don't clean up in the fall (except for our small lawn area).

Our pond is a place for dragonfly larvae to overwinter. They always remind me of some prehistoric creatures, very unlike their beautiful adult form.


Amphibians aren't active in winter either, but they, too, are still in the yard.

Our pond is less than 24 inches deep, and this just doesn't seem to be deep enough for our green frogs unfortunately. We had a few mild winters soon after we first got frogs, and they survived, but in harsher winters (more typical here in Central New York), they didn't. We really miss our frogs, and we don't know how to solve this problem. (We don't feel guilty about getting them here, though, since they were donated to us by people who had them in their swimming pool and they would have been killed when the chlorine was added.)

Toad overwintered ©Janet AllenA toad overwintered here

Our toads, on the other hand, overwinter in the ground apparently very successfully since we always have toads around. We have lots of bare ground since we have very little lawn, so there are lots of options for them. The biggest danger I worry about is that I'll spade through them in the spring. We try to be careful, and we don't start spading in the spring before we have to.

John saw a toad in the garden in the fall and marked where he was so we could check in the spring. The actual spot where it came out of the soil is the depression to the right of the white stick.


We haven't really designed our yard for mammals, except for bats (which haven't shown up yet). We really enjoy chipmunks, too, but we usually only see them once or twice in winter during a thaw. When I notice them, I throw some peanuts out.

Food: Whether we want to or not, we also have squirrels, a few too many, but it could be worse (for example, deer).

Water: Squirrels (and when they're around, chipmunks) take advantage of our heated birdbath.

Cover: The only thing we do regarding cover for mammals, I suppose, is that we're careful not to damage the chipmunks' tunnels. It's amazing that they spend their winter so far below ground.