By Janine Anderson, CPH
Professional Member, APLD

Unless you are an ascetic minimalist, you probably have "stuff" you need or want to store outdoors rather than in your home. For the garden, there are tools, wheelbarrows, lawn mowers, potting soil, amendments, etc. Then there are skiing and camping gear, bikes, kayaks,… the potential list is long. Although you might be able to artfully integrate some of these items into your garden area, usually they fall into the category of "clutter" that detracts from an otherwise pleasing outdoor environment.

For a landscape designer, considering how to accommodate your "stuff" so it doesn’t visually blight your outdoor living space is essential when designing a new or enhancing an existing landscape. Fortunately, this perennial problem can be solved by incorporating well-designed and thoughtfully sited storage sheds into your garden, and the most mindboggling thing about this solution is that the sheds generally enhance rather than detract from your landscape.

Garden storage, garden clutter, tool storage
The problem: Clutter along the entry walk of this mid-century modern home detracts from its attractively redesigned courtyard garden. Photo courtesy of Janine Anderson

Sheds Come to the Rescue!
Outdoor storage sheds can be built or bought in a myriad of sizes and styles. Your landscape designer can design a shed that matches or complements the style of your home and garden, and prefab units can be customized to reflect your personal aesthetic.

Garden shed, garden storage, firewood storage
This shed, which matches its Bainbridge Island waterfront home, stores firewood and garden and beach tools. Design and photo by Octavia Chambliss with Jim Hobbs Construction and ER Landscape

Asian garden style, garden storage, garden shed
This West Seattle client wanted a potting shed with an Asian feel. There was continuity in the design via the detail in the gate to the storage area and the shed door and door pulls. Design and photo by Robin Parsons

Garden storage, garden shed, garden style
Garden tools are stored in this small shed that matches house design. Garden design and photo by Octavia Chambliss; shed built by Hobbs Homebuilding, Inc.

Garden storage, modern design, garden shed
This small building in the corner of the garden was intended to be a potting shed, but the homeowner was so charmed by it, it was converted into an office/studio instead. Garden design and photo by Janine Anderson

Go Modern

If you favor modern design, the Modern Shed website should inspire you. Their smallest sheds, which are 8 feet deep and 12 to 16 feet long, are suitable for storage. Custom sheds can be designed by your landscape designer or building architect.

Garden storage, modern design, garden shed
In this narrow side yard, two sheds of different depths and heights were designed to store bikes, tires, and garden tools. The upper shed has sliding barn doors for easy access and to prevent doors from opening into grass pathway. Design by Gretchen Bauer in conjunction with Angle Stone; construction by Angle Stone; photo courtesy of Gretchen Bauer

Garden storage, modern design, garden shed
Designer Terry LeLievre admires this shed in Toronto, Canada, where the horizontal fencing blends seamlessly into shed and sliding door panel. Photo courtesy of Janine Anderson

Below Deck
There are few landscape features less attractive than the underbelly of a deck. When a storage area can be built below a deck it not only helps solve storage problems but can also help screen this unsightly area.

Garden storage, garden shed, under deck storage
With impervious surfaces at their limit, this shed was built into a stairway leading from the deck. Design and construction by Nyce Gardens; photo courtesy of Susan Picquelle

Garden storage, garden shed, under deck storage
Here, a storage unit with a sliding barn door is sited below a deck. Design and photo by Octavia Chambliss; construction by Fulcrum Landscape

Garden storage, garden shed, under deck storage
This storage area provided space for garden equipment and screening of unsightly area underneath deck. Design and photo by Gretchen Bauer; landscape installed by Orion Rockscapes

Off the Shelf
A prefab shed kit is probably the easiest and most affordable solution to your storage woes. There are many design and size options, and the units can be painted and customized to fit your personal style. The only problem with the following example is how disappointed the two little girls of the house were that it was a storage shed rather than their playhouse!

Garden storage, prefab garden shed, garden style
With only a one-car carport and a small in-city lot, storage was essential. At 6 by 3 feet, this prefab kit provided the minimum for storage but the maximum for the space. The kit costs $2,500 plus $1,000 to assemble on a crushed rock & timber pad. Design and photo by Leanne Goulding; construction contractor Everlast Landscape Inc

Consider Repurposing
You can reduce costs and help the planet by creating unique sheds out of salvaged materials. Visit salvage companies such as Earth Wise Architectural Salvage and Second Use Building Materials for materials and inspiration.

Garden storage, garden shed, salvaged materials
Small shed (about 5 by 7 feet) with salvaged doors and windows was built for storing garden tools. Design by Octavia Chambliss; construction by Elliott Bay Landscape

Garden storage, garden shed, salvaged materials
Front window and door of this 67- by 90-inch shed tucked into a small University District garden are recycled. Side window is cast glass by Seattle artist Eric Krag; door handle was found by homeowner in Bhutan; roof is polycarbonate. Design was a collaboration between homeowners Julie King and Paul Smith and builder Aaron Moore; photo courtesy of Janine Anderson

Storage sheds often detract from an otherwise pleasing garden, but as evidenced by the sheds shown in this article, that need not be the case. Not only do these sheds not detract from the garden, they actually enhance it through their thoughtful design and careful siting. If you have "stuff" that needs to be stored outdoors, consider consulting a landscape designer for assistance.