Saturday, August 1, 2015

Storage in a small backyard

Our property is relatively small. It's about a fifth-acre, which is a normal lot size for our city and for our home's era of construction (newer homes around here are often situated on as little as one-tenth of an acre!), but it does mean that the average homeowner needs to find ways to maximize the space. Our own lot is sort of narrow, being only a little wider than the house itself, with most of the yard space being in front of the house or behind it. For our area, it's a very good yard and we liked it right away. We like it even more six years after buying our house, largely because we've figured out the best ways to use it.

In general, I like the shape of the lot, as it slopes gently downward toward the street in the front, allowing our house to sit back, and a bit higher than the street, keeping it quiet inside and in the backyard. Our backyard is my favorite part, though. It's a quiet, sheltered sanctuary with lots of mature plants, including shade trees. I'd go so far as to say our backyard is park-like, though I know that's a tired cliche. It really is, though; it's quiet, we have just enough grass to enjoy (but not be tons of work), two large patios for dining and entertaining, and planter beds delineated with upright railroad ties or inlaid brick edgings. I like having mature plants in the yard; it was a great relief for this fledgling gardener to be given the responsibility for maintenance instead of full-on nurturing from seedlings. We do pretty well, but if there is one complaint we both have, it's that our storage options are limited here, and the house is actually part of the problem.

We have a two-car garage, which seems like it would afford good space. Our garage is attached at the front of the house. The Bear uses one half (car bay) as a workshop; he has workbenches, cabinetry, table-based tools like saws and a drill press. He has pegboards on the walls. It's a very nice workshop, but it takes up plenty of space. The other half of the garage is meant for storage of other things, like our bicycles, some food storage, extra toilet paper and paper towels - you know the drill. There is little room for gardening implements. We do keep a few things in there, such as a wheeled seed-spreader, but one big problem is that we don't have a way to get into the backyard from the garage, and that's a big pain. The bedrooms are behind the garage, staggered back toward the rear of the house. Ours is furthest back, with a door leading out to the backyard, but I refuse to allow gardening supplies to go out that way. We've had to come up with a different solution.

Just next to the garage, there is a locked gate leading into the side yard, with another gate at the end leading into the back. Things from the garage have to be taken through here, which can be a hassle. The other side yard can only be accessed from the backyard; there's a wall separating it from the front yard. Our front yard is xeriscaped, meaning we don't have grass or other water-loving plants there, and the ground is covered with gravel and rock chips. There is seasonal pruning to do in the front, but not nearly as much as there is in the back, so it's the backyard where we really do our serious yard work. We've decided to use sheds in both side yards to keep our gardening tools handy for working in the back yard. Both sheds are the same - tall, narrow wardrobe-type sheds with double doors and security latches - and each has been helpful in our quest to stay organized and keep our tools close.

The one above sits on the garage side of the house, and we keep our more commonly-used items inside, like the reel mower, rakes, shovels, spades, pruning shears and gardening gloves. We hang smaller items on hooks at the top, to keep them from getting lost among the big things on the floor. This mostly works fine for us, but we do need to be mindful of the way we stow things; everything fits just so, with little space left over.

The other shed sits on the opposite side of the house and is not used as often. It's at the end of a long, narrow tunnel-like space and not as easily accessed, but it's good for items like the weed-whacker and the rotating edger, things you might use every couple of weeks. We also have a trunk-style deck box on one of the patios, for storing folding chairs, scooters, toys and helmets; this has been handy for rounding up all the small stray things our family uses in the yard.

These storage solutions work fine for us, really. There is plenty of space to stow things, and we're able to keep it all out of sight and make more space in the garage too. It's a pretty good solution. Ideally, though, we'd have all of the gardening things together in one place, and we'd have more room in the garage too, so that we could store a car in the other bay, the non-workshop one. We think often about having one big shed somewhere in the backyard, where we could store all the yard stuff, and the bicycles and scooters and other big stuff currently in the garage.

Our backyard is carefully planned to be park-like, as I mentioned, so this would be sort of a challenge. We'd have to find a space both large enough and flat enough for a big shed-type building to fit and still have yard space to enjoy. It would need to have a tall enough ceiling that we could get in and out easily (all of us - the Bear is just over six feet tall and he'd probably be in it the most). And why not make use of our (sometimes annoyingly) abundant New Mexican sunshine with a built-in skylight? I think that a large garden shed from Tesco could be a super choice for our needs. I really like the Palram 6x10 shed with a skylight; it's simple and economical and it would be deep enough to store the bikes as well as the gardening tools, with the least-used items at the back. This 8x6 shed with a tongue-and-groove floor is slightly smaller, but would be a beautiful, natural-looking addition to our yard, and it even has a little window to make good use of our sunshiney days.

We could put it against the west wall of the yard, but we'd have to move the chicken coop and possibly cut down a tree. I think it would look nice over there, though. Or we could remove a large juniper bush, which already has some dead parts on the inside anyway, and put the shed in its place. There are possibilities, but in a yard this small, we would have to be willing to give up something to make room for a shed. It wouldn't be easy to decide, but I think it would be worth it in the long run, to have all the gardening items in one place, along with the items currently taking up space in our garage. Our newest car is nine years old, so clearly there has been no hurry, but it would be nice to park a car in the garage. We really love our house and have been very comfortable and happy here, but it's always fun to think and plan different ways to use our space and maximize storage potential. The garden shed possibilities are endless, even if space and money are not!


  1. What a cute idea. We have a small backyard, but Hubby has a large detached garage and everything gets put in it. I have a corner where I have my gardening things.

  2. I'm sure you will suddenly think of the ideal solution and then wonder why ever you didn't do it years ago! Our garage is all Hubby's bits and bobs, tools, fishing gear etc and we are fortunate to have a (rather old) shed where we can keep bikes and gardening bits. We also have a plastic storage unit where we keep all the rabbit food and other odd bit but I always think they look a bit like portaloos!! the wooden shed sounds lovely :-) xx

  3. I like the second one as it's more natural looking and would match the chicken coop. You would love it and be able to have some fun putting some decorative touches to the outside. Imagine a trellis with something like a trumpet vine or jasmine growing on it? I hope you are able to get one. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

  4. I love how you have everything so beautifully organised. I'd love a garden shed as well, but I'm not sure where I'd put it. Nice to dream though! CJ xx

  5. This post struck a chord with me as we spent the morning sorting out our double garage which is a repository for everyone's stuff. I have a corner for my gardening gear but I'm very lucky to have a small shed at the allotment which I take pleasure in keeping organised. Hope you find your dream shed and the best place to site it soon.

  6. You've made such good use of you space and I think you'll figure out how to work in a shed. I really like the 2nd one - I think it would look really cute in your yard.

  7. You sound very organized - I'm incredibly impressed. Our garden stuff is stored partly in the garage, partly in the old garden store (quite small) and partly in the shed which used to be an office and is now, I'm ashamed to say, a general dumping ground. One day we will get around to sorting it out again. Good luck with your dream shed. xx

  8. I'm also more fan of the natural looking shed - I think it will integrate better in your garden, in a prettier way... I also would decorate it, like Teresa suggested...
    But hey, I'm from Belgium, a country known for his garden sheds and shacks ;-))). I think every Belgian has a garden shed (or two, or three...). Some people have half townships in their garden :-))) ! We call it our national disease, the fact that everybody with a house, soon starts adding "extra's" to their house (garden sheds, car ports, pool houses, pigeon stations, animal shelter...)
    But a garden shed is essential. That is for sure !

  9. Our house and garden are both short of storage space, a perennial irritation for me. I go to sleep at night dreaming of floor to ceiling cupboards,garden sheds and utility rooms......

  10. We can't access our back garden from the front because the house is built up to the boundary of the property. It annoys me a great deal to walk through the house with gardening stuff. I do love your park garden, what a great solution for a dry climate. We used to have a shed the size of a double bedroom in the garden, blocking a lot of light. Richard sold it on Ebay, I miss the storage but not the big house in the garden. Maybe I'll check out your links for inspiration. xx

  11. I am lucky that we can access our back garden without having to go through the house, in fact we have a garage/workshop behind our house! It is full of tools, bikes, canoes and gardening stuff and we are forever reorganising it but it does work :). You would never be able to park a car in it but we have a drive for that.

    I love that you think a fifth of an acre is a small plot, it is a huge one here in the UK! We have about a tenth of an acre and that is pretty big by UK standards most houses have considerably less :).

  12. I think that sounds like a wonderful option to create a space for all the things you don't need in the garage and it will look perfect and be accessible.

  13. Sounds like the perfect solution to have a great wooden shed. \my husband has one and treats it like a den.

  14. I know exactly what you mean about your garage - there is no access from ours to the garden either, only to the house and to the front drive. All gardening items had to be carried through the kitchen until we put up our shed (which is so tiny, but just big enough for the gardening things). I love the idea of a shed with a roof light. If money was no object I'd have a potting shed, with a large angled window and lots of room to move around inside. x

  15. We built a garden shed last year for the very reason you describe, (although we do park our cars IN the garage.) There was never enough storage for the gardening items and we had to either carry them through the family room into the backyard or all the way around the house through a locked gate. It was all very unhandy to say the least. I posted a picture of the shed a few weeks ago with it's new sign, "Papa's House" that Piper gave it. You are really organized with your smaller sheds though and I commend you on it. We had things divided up like that and it drove me bonkers! Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog Jennifer. It helps so much to know I have friends out there thinking of me. Hope the LB is continuing to mend too.

  16. Your Bear's workshop looks like my Bear's idea of heaven ... he has to make do with a tiny shed and mostly drags his workbench out into the garden where he has some elbow room.


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