These winter weekends when there’s not much happening in the garden present opportunities to clean out the garden shed. Or, if your garden lacks a shed, to plan and design one.
A garden isn’t complete without a shed, a structure apart from the house and garage, a place where the gardener can be outside and inside at the same time. And, of course, a place to stash tools, pots, bags of bone meal and peat moss, stakes, buckets and spare rocks. I am speaking of true sheds here. Opulent structures featuring upholstered furniture, electricity and plumbing are not sheds. Any place that the gardener cannot enter without removing her duck shoes or changing out of her gardening pants is not a shed.
Until 2007, the only shed in my garden was an ugly little excrescence attached to the garage, a poor excuse of a structure sided with chipboard painted a reddish-brown. Inside was a single sagging shelf, also of chipboard. The door had obviously been repurposed from some interior application. The whole thing was an offence to the eye, but it served its purpose longer than it was ever intended to do.
In the summer of 2007, the garden acquired its present shed, in a corner under the huge maple belonging to the neighbouring yard. It is opposite the two compost heaps, one of which occupies the spot where the former shed used to be.
This shed is a vast improvement over its predecessor. It’s sided in cedar, board and batten style. Some of the roof shingles are leftovers from reshingling the house roof years ago; the others are from the old shed — hence the two-tone effect. Cedar shakes would have been ideal, but the plan was to use material already on hand wherever possible. In fact, the roof incorporates some of the chipboard from the old shed, under the shingles. Inside there are several sets of shelves and a little triangular-shaped counter for potting and similar activities. There are handy hooks for hanging hangables, rafters that support an array of stakes and tomato cages, and — best of all — there are three windows, one set of which actually opens. The door is another nice touch, custom-made from cedar boards with a door handle that is actually a suitably shaped piece of driftwood from the beach a ten-minute walk from here.
This shed cost in total only a little more than $1,000 (Cdn) to build. It’s about 8 feet by 10 and was designed and built by my husband. The whole project took less than two months from start to finish.
Now I have plenty of space in which to store garden stuff, with a bit left over for amenities such as a couple of chairs (one folding). The shed is a little haven in the garden that affords shelter from rain or sun, a place to sit down and have a rest from digging or raking.
Maintenance is simple. Once a year, take everything outside and get rid of anything that doesn’t belong or is never used. (That’s a problem with sheds — they can become repositories for junk, which isn’t their purpose. So Christmas ornaments, tires and non-garden tools should be banished from the garden shed and stored in the garage. On the other hand, really large garden items, such as the lawn mower and ladders used for pruning operations are appropriately housed in the garage). Anyway, back to maintenance. When the shed is empty, sweep out the accumulated soil, plant debris and rat poop (yes, there are rats here in paradise). Then put everything back in. Get a cup of coffee or whatever beverage you favour, sit down and admire your outside-inside refuge.