The Shed

The Shed
The Shed

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


Since it has been established that you need a garden shed; the logical question is where the best place to build one might be. Near the garden, that seems obvious enough, perhaps inside the fence? That is convenient certainly, but now the shed will take up valuable space inside the wire that could otherwise be occupied by tomatoes, or corn or God help us, parsnips. Better perhaps to incorporate the shed into the fence, with the side facing the garden flush with the fencing, and the balance of the building projecting outside the enclosure.

Follow the sun:

Choose the side of the fence such that the shed will cast no shadows on the veggies. Here in the Northeast the sun rises in the east, sets in the west and traces an arc across the southern sky. This makes the northern side of the garden the soundest location for the new shed. This will not be the case in New Zealand, or on Tierra del Fuego, where we have hordes of avid readers.

Gateway to gardening goodness:

Since the shed is technically both inside and outside the wire why not make it the entrance or one of the entrances to the enclosure? If this is done then the inner and outer doors must be wide enough to easily accommodate the wheelbarrow or whatever conveyance you might use to haul necessities into and out of the garden, so keep that in mind when drawing up the plan.

Size matters:

How big a shed yours will be depends on the size of the garden and what tools, amendments and supplies you would ideally like to store within. Are you planning on a work bench for potting and other purposes? Would the shed be a better place to store, say, the chainsaw, lawnmower and other lawn gear than is the garage? Are you having other gardeners over for beer and poker, and find the shed better suited for this activity than, perhaps, the dining room?

Consider all these factors and then, once you have decided on a suitable floor area increase that area by one hundred and fifty percent, or better, double it, and you will have a realistic, usable building that will not immediately require enlargement.


The best of all floors would be a frost heave resistant concrete slab but several factors may militate against this as a desirable material. It may, if you do not have access to a cement mixture, be too much work to pour, or too expensive to hire out to a contractor. Also, depending on where you live by building a large shed on a concrete slab you may draw the hideous and unwelcome attentions of local government in the form of the dreaded Building Inspector – read “legalized pirate” who will make your life miserable if you do NOT obtain a building permit, and raise your property taxes if you do.


In some sections of the country sanity still prevails and a property owner can build pretty much what he or she desires, or at least the Building Inspector accepts a relatively modest bribe to forget about you completely. Know what you are dealing with going in.

Two by lumber and ¾” exterior plywood make acceptable flooring as long as they are elevated above ground contact. Placing the shed on a course of blocks and graveling the floor is also not out of the question, and is economical. Shipping pallets can then be used to keep items off the ground that need to be so kept.

The rule of fours:

Four by eight foot sheets of outdoor plywood or specialized outdoor sidings are convenient building units, just remember to keep that four foot measure in mind when setting up the frame so that you minimize cutting the siding. Use the full 8’ height of the sheet, a roomy shed is a great shed to work with. Most folks use 24 inches on center uprights for shed construction, and that is adequate. Twelve or sixteen inches is always sturdier, however.

Gambrel roof design, or peaked or slanted:


A Gambrel roof yields much more total interior room and allows for a good deal of overhead storage as well. Instructions for Gambrel roof design are available in home centers, libraries and on line. It also looks quite pleasant.

Special effects:

Simple windows let in light and or air, you can make these from glass or poly sheets and simple framed screens, no need to buy ready made. Electricity inside and out will be welcome, bring the power from the house. A floodlight or two on the outside will allow you finish up some chores as the sunlight fails and to show off your zucchini to nocturnal visitors, should you be so inclined.

A water tap is convenient, for cleanup and watering and is best located just outside the door facing the garden. Make sure the system can be easily drained if you live where winters are harsh.

It is always best to do the plumbing and electrical work when the Building Inspector is on vacation.

A kerosene heater, or best of all a small potbelly stove makes the shed a hospitable place when the temperatures plummet, you might end up moving in!

Tool racks for each tool, workbenches, heavy shelving for bagged and weighty items, out fit the interior to meet your particular gardening needs. 


A traditional red and white exterior always looks good but many things can be done to spruce up the exterior. Hang bird houses or feeders from the roof beams, flower boxes from the window ledges and hanging plants wherever they will fit. Let your imagination run wild, make a first rate shed a part of your gardening experience, and enjoy it for years to come!


Glory Lennon said...

Now hold on...that little cutie on the bottom is my idea of a perfect home....too pretty for my garden stuff!

Mac Pike said...

I could live in it! Wouldn't throw many parties, unless they were garden parties.

Ula said...

Having a shed in your backyard is giving your family and yourself a place where you can relax and spend time together. When planning to build one, the design should include everything that's been said above, including the size, flooring, and design. The proper materials and measurements should be used to make the durable and strong enough to last the test of time and weathering.

Ula Heximer

oscar kuehl said...

All factors which you have mention in above blog that's really needs to consider when building a garden sheds. These factors are plays a big role in building a garden shed with including good design, flooring and proper way.