17 February 2010

Shedloads of Fun

When I go to look at a new garden for a client there will inevitably be the shed conversation, and it will go like this. Me: ‘That’s a big shed, do you actually use it?’ Client (if female) not really, I don’t like it at all, its an eyesore and full of rubbish. Client (if male) oh yes, its essential to our survival, we have to have it’

There is a saying which goes something like ‘every man should have a shed’ but I think that increasingly they are moving away from being a male sanctuary and domain to becoming another space to work, study or create. Or just be and listen to the radio in peace and quiet. They are the perfect solution to modern life, a hideaway and only at the bottom of your garden.

The average shed is pretty uninspiring and generally stuffed with bikes, garden furniture, lawn mowers, broken pots and massive spiders. I do encourage clients to consider exactly what they need to store, or how they want to use their shed, as most of us nowadays do not have huge gardens with space to hide the offending structure, normally there they are plonked right in the line of sight. As humans our natural instinct is often to fill any available space we have and the shed is often a prime dumping ground.

If you are thinking about getting a new shed it is really worth thinking about what you want to do in it, is it for work or pleasure or simply to hide rubbish? Could it be used as a potting shed, a studio, an office or even a larder or spare room? The permutations are endless! You can of course add a lean-to for firewood and garden tools, increasing the storage space as needed.

It’s also worth considering whether you need utilities such as water or electricity and possibly insulation. Having any of these services vastly increases the possibilities and gives you more options.

Don’t forget to find out if you need permission for your new structure. Remember that Bath is a full of conservation areas and listed buildings so if you are in any of these areas it could be a problem, but it is easy to check this out with the planning department or fill in a Householder Development Planning questionnaire downloadable from the BANES website.

As a general rule of thumb however, the structure can

only be one storey high, with no verandas or raised platforms or balcony and there is also a maximum height of 2.5 metres within 2 metres of any boundary. However, this leaves plenty of scope for a decent sized shed.

So where do you go for your shed? They are widely available from any DIY shop or from most garden centres. However, having had years of experience in choosing and erecting sheds, I would advise that generally you get what you pay for, so it’s worth considering this as the cheaper types do not last for very long. If you have a particular size in mind you can have them made for you, thus giving you the choice of types of roof, where you want the door, windows and the type of timber. Whites of Frome are just one place which makes bespoke sheds.

It is very important to get a good strong base built, either using paving slabs or concrete, but it is important to ensure that this base is perfectly level. Sometimes it is worth marking out the size of the shed on the ground to give you a sense of how it might look. Also consider planting around it or over it with shrubs and climbers.

Sheds are also a good structure for a green roof of either sedums or wildflowers and grasses but it is worth getting expert advice on this to ensure that the roof is strong enough to take the weight of the plants and soil.

Generally sheds are boring and brown. Why not spruce yours up by painting it an interesting colour? There are masses of fantastic paint colours available for external timber. Susanne Higgins, showroom manager at Farrow & Ball in Walcot Street recommends using their exterior eggshell, and it is available in the complete range of colours. I love Dix Blue and Parma Grey, but there are lots to choose from.

With imaginative planting, maybe a place to sit and peace and quiet, it won’t just be the fairies enjoying life at the bottom of your garden.


  1. Lovely images here of sheds.
    I wish my shed/ studio had an outside sink (2nd image) - that would make a huge difference to me ... I will have to give that more thought


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