Garden sheds often languish at the bottom of a garden, unloved and underused. But by looking at what you already have, you can easily find ways on how to improve a garden shed in numerous ways to make sure that it really works for you and your household in a range of different ways.
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Assess the Existing Structure
First of all, before you think about getting rid of an existing garden shed or starting from scratch with a new one, it is always a good idea to assess the existing structure of your garden building. For environmental reasons, and financial ones, it makes sense to make use of what we already have before we consider buying anything new.
Looking closely at an existing shed, no matter how old, dilapidated and neglected it may be, is also important because that assessment can help us to see how, in future, that shed might be repaired, amended and improved to meet our needs and/or fulfil our desires.
Determine Your Goals
While taking a good look at your existing garden shed, think long and hard not only about what the shed is now, and what it offers, but also about what it could offer in the future.
This is the time to give your imagination free-reign and think about what your garden shed could be, and, crucially, how it could be integrated with the overall design of your garden space.
Garden sheds can be far more than dusty, cobwebbed storage spaces. Of course, they can be incredibly functional and useful spaces for gardeners and the garden as a whole. And they can potentially become additional living, working, and/or playing spaces for you and your family.
Repair the Garden Shed Structure
In many cases, the first step in moving towards your goals may be to make repairs to be basic structure of the existing garden shed. In assessing the existing shed you should have been able to work out where the existing shed needs some work.
You may need to look at the roof, walls or base floor of a garden shed before you start to look at other ways in which you can improve it. Often, you can make simple DIY repairs more easily and more cheaply than you might imagine, and will not need to start from scratch.
Enhance the Garden Shed Structure
As you make repairs, you may also be able to enhance the shed through making improvements to the basic structure. You might extend the structure to give you more space, while keeping the fundamentals of the existing structure.
You might strengthen the walls or the roof or the floor in order to make the space more able to withstand the elements and to make it more suited to the intended purpose of the building.
Strengthening the structure of a garden shed might also allow you to add some of the extra features mentioned below.
Thinking about the shed structure, you might also like, depending on your goals, to consider adding insulation, to improve the building envelope and keep it cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
You might even add windows or expand existing areas of glazing, add roof lights… You might increase the overhang of a roof to improve the function of the structure, or add new door or doors to alter how the space can be used.
More superficially, but also importantly, you might paint a shed or otherwise decorate its exterior in order to make it fit better into the garden, and suit your overall garden style and plans.
Add Sustainable Features Outside a Garden Shed
When considering how to improve a garden shed, you may at first tend to focus on the interior of the space. But it is also important to think about features that might be added and improvements that might be made outside and surrounding the shed too.
It is very important not to consider the shed only in isolation. Remember that a garden shed does not sit alone – it can and should be an integral part of your garden.
It should feel like a key part of the garden as a whole, and should blend seamlessly into its surroundings and look and feel like it belongs. What is more, the shed can and should contribute in many ways to the surroundings, and to the sustainable systems in a garden.
One sustainable feature to add to a garden shed, for example, are photo-voltaic panels. Solar panels can generate electricity for the shed itself, or for other garden use – perhaps even for use within your home. For those living on farms, we have some essential and sustainable small-scale farming tips that you should follow.
As long as the shed roof is sunny enough, and strong enough, you should be able to use it to generate renewable electricity. In some cases, you might also be able to consider placing a small windmill on the shed roof, to make use of wind power.
Another important area to consider is catching and storing water from the shed roof. Installing guttering onto any garden building is a must for a sustainable garden. That water can be collected in rainwater barrels or butts, and/or directed to growing areas or other parts of the garden.
Food production is of course also a sustainable practice in a garden. The more we can grow ourselves at home the lower our carbon footprints will be and the more we can withdraw our support from damaging agricultural and food systems.
Food can potentially be grown around, on and in garden sheds. From shade-tolerant edible perennials in the shade of a garden shed, to climbers, vertical gardens and hanging planters on its sides, and perhaps tender edible plants inside, a shed can be used to enable far more food production than you may have imagined.
Add Wildlife-Friendly Extras to a Garden Shed
A garden shed will not just enable a more sustainable way of life for you and your family. It can also help you to help the other creatures with whom you share your space. A garden shed can be improved in a number of different ways so that it can become a more integral part of a wildlife-friendly garden.
Adding climbers or wall shrubs to the walls of a shed can provide habitat for a wide range of different species. Of course, flowering plants on and around the garden shed can attract pollinators galore.
Where the roof structure of a shed permits, you might even be able to create a green roof for the structure, increasing the planted space on your property and, again, helping out the wildlife in your area.
You might also add all sorts of other wildlife-friendly features to the shed, including bug boxes, bee hotels, butterfly houses, bird boxes, bird feeders, bat boxes and more. Though of course the planting around the shed will be the most important thing in attracting wildlife to your garden.
Add colour to your garden by checking out these fantastic wildflowers for bees.
Child-friendly Shed Ideas
If you have kids then a garden shed can be the epicentre of your childrens’ activities in the garden. Of course, kids should be outdoors as much as possible – especially during the summer months. After all, there are some great ways on how to design the perfect child friendly garden.
A garden shed can, for kids, become so much more. It can be a fairy house, a fort or castle, an explorers hut, home to a witch or wizard… it can be a den, a place to read stories, draw, or simply relax with friends or on their own.
Sometimes, improving a garden shed is not about functionality and practical use, but rather about fun, and play. Adding elements or decorating a shed can turn it into whatever you and your kids want it to be. And using reclaimed materials and upcycling often means that these fun features do not need to be costly to employ.
Functional Interior Layout & Storage Ideas for a Garden Shed
Of course, whether you are the one using your garden shed, or it is primarily used by kids, the interior layout can make a big different to how the space can potentially be used and how functional and practical it can be.
The key is often to think about how you can make every element within the space as multi-functional as possible. Each item or element that you include in the shed should do double duty- at least.
It can be useful, in sheds and in other spaces where space tends to be limited, to incorporate flexibility, with features that can be moved around and perhaps folded away when not in use to make the most of the space.
Think about the vertical space as well as the horizontal area within your garden shed – integrating shelving or other vertical structures to make the most of every inch of space. Don’t forget about the space in a sloped roof, which might provide a little additional storage space in some cases.
Be Sure to Follow Our Advice about How to Improve a Garden Shed
But do not be tempted to created a space that tries to do too much all at once, and be too many things to too many people. Keep things as simple as you can and pare back to the essentials that will really allow you to use the space to meet your goals, whatever these may be.
How can I improve the storage capacity of my garden shed?
To maximise storage, consider installing shelves, hooks, and racks to utilize vertical space. Utilise modular storage systems and create dedicated zones for different items. Declutter regularly to maintain an organized shed.
How can I make my garden shed more functional?
Add a workbench or a potting station for gardening tasks. Install a tool wall or pegboard for easy access to tools. Consider adding a foldable workspace for versatile use. Customize the shed to suit your specific needs.
How can I enhance the lighting in my garden shed?
Opt for LED fixtures, task lighting, or natural light sources such as windows or skylights. Ensure proper electrical wiring and consider installing additional outlets for lighting needs. Use lighting strategically to illuminate work areas.
What can I do to improve the aesthetics of my garden shed?
Repaint or stain the shed to refresh its appearance. Consider adding decorative elements like window boxes, planters, or hanging baskets. Incorporate landscaping around the shed for a visually appealing backdrop.
How can I make my garden shed more eco-friendly?
Install solar panels for lighting or powering small appliances. Consider rainwater harvesting systems to utilize natural resources. Use recycled or reclaimed materials for construction or decor to reduce environmental impact.
How can I improve the ventilation in my garden shed?
Ensure the shed has proper ventilation by installing vents or windows that can be opened. This helps prevent humidity, condensation, and mold buildup.
How can I make my garden shed more secure?
Upgrade the shed’s security by installing sturdy locks, secure windows, and motion sensor lights. Consider reinforcing the door and windows with additional locks or bars for added protection.
How can I improve the insulation in my garden shed?
Add insulation to the walls, ceiling, and floor to regulate temperature. This helps to keep the shed comfortable in different weather conditions.
Can I convert my garden shed into a livable space?
Depending on local regulations and the shed’s construction, it may be possible to convert it into a livable space such as a studio or guest room. Check with local authorities and consider insulation, electrical requirements, and plumbing needs.
How can I maintain my improved garden shed?
Regularly clean and maintain the shed to preserve its improvements. Inspect for any damages, repair them promptly, and conduct periodic organization sessions to keep the space clutter-free.
Amazon.co.uk. (n.d.) Green Roof Kit for Flat Roofs. Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Green-Roof-Kit-Flat-Roofs/dp/B008KMCVRU?tag=gardenerswo08-21&ascsubtag=gardenersworld-79650&geniuslink=true [Accessed 07/06/23]
Garden Buildings Direct (n.d.) Electricity to your Garden Shed. Available at: https://www.gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk/resource/electricity-to-your-garden-shed/ [accessed 07/06/23]
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.
To get in touch, visit https://ewspconsultancy.com.