Garden Shed: A Place to Putter


Growing up on a farm, gardening was a way of life.  Potatoes were planted on Good Friday, seeds were planted a few weeks later, and tomatoes seedlings went in the ground in mid-May.  Mom took charge of the garden and all of us kids were her helpers, following behind carrying tools, dragging hoses, and holding the row markers.  From those very humble beginnings, I watched how Mom planned everything out and what tools she would need.  One thing that attributed to her organization was that all of her gardening tools were in one location.

While some kids dream of college and careers, I dreamed of what my garden shed would look like when I was a grown up.  Oh sure, college and career were important, but I couldn’t wait to have my very own garden shed.  It would be my place to putter and daydream as I thumbed through seed catalogs.

The full garden shed

The full garden shed

Years later, college had been completed and I had careers in horticulture and high tech.  All that was left to check off my list was a garden shed.

Mr. Overalls and I found the house that would become our home.  When we walked through the front door, we looked through the living room into a wonderful backyard.  We knew then that this is where we would put down roots.  As we toured the backyard, I was somewhat disappointed that this 1/3 acre property did not have a garden shed.  Where did they keep their tools for a place this large?  Did they store everything in the garage or basement?

Weeks passed after we moved in.  As I came across my watering cans, hoses, and trowels, I lamented that we would have to make space in the garage for them.   Mr. Overalls looked at me with surprise and said, “Why don’t you put them in the garden shed?”  Wait… did I miss something?  Did he build a shed while I was organizing the kitchen?  Seeing my puzzled face, he took my hand and led me outside to a large planting of euonymous.  As we stood in front of the aged plant, I then noticed a tunnel that led to a door.  Could it be?  Yes!  There was a shed hidden by this overgrown plant.

While I had visions of a neatly organized shed, everything at my fingertips, Mr. Overalls just wanted to get the shed loaded so we could park in the garage which had become the temporary storage  area for all of our possessions.  So I watched as my shed was filled with scrap metal, plastic toboggans, assorted scrap lumber, saw horses, and a table saw.  Oh sure, a few garden tools ended up in the shed, but just a few because there wasn’t room for all of it.

For the next five years, whenever I did gardening, I had to find tools in the garage, basement, and shed.  Though in order to reach the tools in the shed, I had to unpack part of the shed to get to them.  This was not my dream shed.  It was a storage unit that just to happened to sit in our backyard.  This set up took all the fun out of gardening.

But one day, I had enough of searching for tools and the unloading and reloading of the shed.  It was time to claim my space.  So with the help of a dear friend, we removed everything from the interior of the shed.  Piles grew in the backyard: scrap metal, scrap wood, recycle pile, trash pile, and the Mr. Overalls pile.  It was pretty impressive just how much stuff had been packed into that space.

Green wall with buffet turned potting bench

Green wall with buffet turned potting bench

To make the shed mine, the first thing I did in the empty shed was sweep.  There was years worth of dirt and spider webs.  I needed to start with a clean space.  Next, I primed the interior walls.  The fresh white was the perfect canvas.  But an all white shed was pretty stark, it needed something else to give it personality.  And there it was, a can of summertime green paint named ‘Grapevine’.  This color was way too bright for the sunny living room of our house, but for a dark shed?   Perfect.  The paint went up on an accent wall as well as the wall space around the doors leading into the shed.

By the time Mr. Overalls arrived later that day, he knew that I had claimed the space.  He helped me move a prized piece into the shed… a vintage white buffet.

The organized shed

The organized shed

That buffet would be the focal point in the shed.  It would become my potting bench.  It was the perfect height, had shallow drawers for storing hose nozzles, zinc plant tags, and pruners.  The storage under the drawers would hold all of my potting soil and organic fertilizer.  The piece had history and beautiful lines.  This was the sort of thing that belonged in a dream garden shed.

As I sorted and loaded the shed, my vision was taking shape.  Like items were placed together, small items were placed at eye level on the front of a shelf so I could find them, and large bulky garden tools were hung from the ceiling.  This freed up floor space, yet I could easily reach them.  And the best part?  I could open the doors to the shed and walk in without unloading stuff.  I could walk all the way to the back wall and pick up a hand tool or small trellis.  Everything was in place and everything had it’s space.

As a bonus, the previous owner had hung a light and placed an outlet in the shed.  While the electric needs to be repaired (Mr. Overalls is pretty handy), I will not have to work in the dark.

My dream was coming together.  Herbs will be drying from hooks overhead, perfuming the air, seed catalogs will be hung on the magazine rack, seed packets will be sorted by vegetables: tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, squash, and greens, and the vintage radio will be playing music in the background.  Yes, the garden shed will indeed be my place to putter.  Garden shed.  Check.


2 responses »

  1. How fun!! It looks so bright and pretty in there. We are currently working on a shed of this sort for me. I am quite excited. We are revamping a big tree house (my husband had made it around 8′ x 8′- and with framed in walls, rafters and everything) that had fallen down into a shed where I will have all my gardening stuff and my honey extracting equipment. It will be so nice to get it out of our crowded garage.

    • It is fun to have everything in one spot and easily accessible. We were both getting tired of searching for things in the garage and basement… now we know that if something is for gardening, it is in the shed.

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