The first structure nearly everyone builds on their own is a shed. The garden shed is traditionally one of the most interesting, easy-to-build, and useful backyard weekend project a family can undertake. For the gardener, it is a life saver when it comes to keeping the plants growing and having a central location for tool storage and other needs.
Selecting the Garden Shed Site
The first step in building a garden shed is choosing where it will be located. This will be dictated by several factors, including how close to the garden you want it, how large it will likely be, and what the local laws and regulations covering the building of the shed are. In most urban or suburban areas, zoning laws will require that the shed be located a certain number of feet from any property line and not be higher than a specific height.
Other details such as how permanent the structure will be – will you pour a foundation, build it floating, or have it sitting on a non-permanent foundation – and how large it is will also decide whether a permit from local government is required and what the building requirements will be to successfully get that permit.
In many areas, if the building is not on a permanent foundation and is a specific number of feet (or more) away from property lines or neighboring buildings, no permit is required. This is why many storage and garden sheds are built on top of railroad ties, laid (but not permanent) stone blocks, etc.
Garden Shed Building Materials
After the location is selected, you will need to begin designing the shed itself. If you’re building from a kit or set of purchased plans, then your materials are likely listed for you. You can save money by sourcing many of the materials for your shed from non-traditional sources or by refurbishing or using materials from a demolished structure.
Be wary of some hazards such as lead-based paint and infestations that could be present in and on old structures. With that, though, these old buildings or piles of rubbish from demolished structures can be a great source of free materials that would otherwise be headed for the landfill. Talk to the current owners (or contractors) and take what you can.
Other sources can include construction sites or homes that are being remodeled. Many contractors throw away materials that you may have a use for. Homes that are having their windows replaced, for instance, may be a source for windows for your shed since the old windows are likely to be thrown out or resold at a very low cost. Again, talk to the current owners or contractor.
Role of the Garden Shed
When designing your shed, you will want to think about its ultimate role in your yard and garden. Will it need easy access for a wheelbarrow? Lawn mower? Shelving and racks for specific tools? Storage for off-season items such as pots, fertilizers or other items that you might otherwise have to put into self storage, etc? Bins or containers for soil, compost, and the like? Workbenches for starting seeds or building small items to use in the garden?
Ultimately, your plans for the shed should include provisions for everything you will be using it for. Building a square structure with a roof and a door is one thing, but building one that is more than just a glorified warehouse for storing junk in is another. Plan ahead.
Garden Shed Build/Design Ideas
Speaking of plans, look around to get good building and design ideas. A garden shed can quickly become the centerpiece for a backyard if it’s built right. Design it have a specific look, to match your home’s architecture, or otherwise stand out from the boring, four walls and a roof structures common in suburban backyards.
Since you’re building it yourself, put some of yourself into it. Let your kids or other family members give input or ideas (and help!) into the final design. Build a garden shed that looks good and is something to be proud of!
Want to learn more about garden shed ideas?
Check out these helpful websites:
Building a Garden Shed: PDF on things to consider when building a garden shed.
Greener Choices for Sheds, Greenhouses, and Garden Furniture