I have a new homemade garden shed and I love it! I could have had one years ago if I wanted to buy a pre-fab one or put one up made of plywood. If that’s the way to go for you, know that I’m not criticizing that and you have my blessing. It just wasn’t what I wanted. My garden tools and supplies were stored in three places on our property—four if you count the mailbox holding the trowels. I dreamed of one day having everything at my fingertips in the garden in a shed special to me.
My favorite advice for your garden is—ya gotta have a plan! That goes for a garden shed, also. In the chapter Sheds, Fences, and Other Stuff in Grow a Sustainable Diet I wrote of my plan for a shed and everything that would be stored there. Uses included a place to hang strings and bags of produce from the rafters and a small loft. Our daughter was the illustrator for that book and the shed illustration is what she drew from my description. When my husband, the architect and builder for this project, sat down to draw up plans and asked what I wanted, I handed him the book.
We used wood (oak framing and pine siding) our daughter and son-in-law cut from their property and milled to our specifications with their sawmill. Between the weather and everyone’s schedules, there were many delays, but it was worth the wait. A visit to Home Depot would have been faster, but not nearly as interesting. We bought the metal roofing at Lowes. The panels are ordered to the exact length you need, so measure carefully.
I wanted my garden fork, spade, hoe, and cultivator to hang up in the shed, rather than be jumbled in a corner, resting on the floor. Once hung up, I noticed them more, including their need to be cleaned of soil. That led me to keep a wire brush there to brush off the ends regularly.
I thought I wanted a counter spanning one side. During construction of the shed, I put scrap pieces of the siding in two corners for shelves and liked that better. I still needed a workspace for writing my garden notes and working with seeds, so, I built this workstation from scraps and an old door we had laying around. (Consider everything you have as resources and not junk.) It is just right for counter space and has storage for hanging small items on the back and for larger items on the shelf beneath. I painted the panels on the door with blackboard paint.
We used the old chicken house on our property as inspiration for the framing. There are no joists overhead, leaving the space open to the peak of the roof. I built a 2’ wide loft in the back to store containers and things. There were two sets of rafters in this 8’ x 8’ shed that I put nails in to hang strings of garlic and onions and anything else I need to hang. Besides having the rafters to provide a place for that, having the space open all the way to the peak makes the shed seem bigger. You will find more photos and details of my shed at Homeplace Earth. There are 4x4s every four feet with 2x4s horizontally between them at two levels. The board siding runs all the way from bottom to top.
The floor is a wonderful feature of this shed. We were on the receiving end of pavers headed to the landfill one year. They had all had a piece cut off of them. With a rented wet saw and much patience and sweat, we made them into a fantastic floor. The block foundation and paver floor make for a substantial shed that will be here for many years. We have already lived here for 31 years and don’t plan on going anywhere soon. If you are more transient than we are, you might want to build a shed that can be moved. I think there are plans that would allow you to build a garden shed in panels to be assembled multiple times in different places.
Assess your needs and wishes carefully. Before you know it, you will find the perfect shed, or plans for it. Make it a special place by adding your personal touches. We are each different and interesting people and our garden sheds should reflect that. Best wishes on choosing a garden shed or building one yourself!
Cindy Conner is the author of Seed Libraries and Grow a Sustainable Diet and has produced DVDs about garden planning and managing cover crops with hand tools. Learn more about what she is up to at Homeplace Earth.
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