Sheds are invaluable, but all too easily become neglected eyesores. Still, especially in a small garden, they need to earn their place and look good as well as be useful.
With a bit of planning and inspiration, a shed can offer a whole new space for living, playing and even growing. So don’t leave yours blotting the appearance of your garden or allotment – check out our 10 quick and easy ideas for making the most of this time-honoured garden essential.
How to improve your shed
There are many ways to improve a garden shed, including painting the outside panels, replacing or upgrading the roof, adding sturdy shelving and hooks, and even adding chairs where you can sit and enjoy your shed.
More garden shed advice:
Browse our list of 10 ways to improve your garden shed, below.
Paint your shed
Painting the garden shed. Photo: Getty Images.
Painting your shed will not only protect the wood, but can change the look and feel of your garden too. Bright colours will bring vibrancy to your garden and lift your spirits. More neutral shades such as olive green will make your shed less prominent and help it blend in with the planting. If you paint it a dark colour, such as black or deep blue, it will seem further away, helping to make a small garden feel bigger.
Fix a water butt to your shed
Shed with attached guttering and water butt
Long, hot summers and less rainfall mean we all need to recycle water wherever we can, so use the roof of your shed to collect this precious resource. Simply attach guttering just below the roof and add a drainpipe leading into a water butt to catch and store rain. Use it to water your garden and any plants, both indoors and out, that prefer rainwater over water from the tap.
Use your shed to attract wildlife
Bug hotel attached to shed
The sides of a shed offer potential to provide valuable shelter for smaller garden wildlife. Nest boxes for birds and ‘hotels’ for solitary bees and other pollinating insects – either shop bought or homemade – are easy to attach and can look attractive as well as being useful. Just make sure they’re out of the prevailing wind, rain and strong sunlight.
Add a green roof to your shed
Shed green roof of thyme and red cabbage
A shed roof, no matter how small, is a great new planting opportunity, on what would otherwise be a barren space. Covering it with plants will soften the appearance of your shed, helping it blend with the greenery around it. A green roof will also insulate the shed and provide shelter for wildlife too. Make a shallow-edged wooden frame to place on the existing roof, line it with plastic and fill it with soil. Plant it with grasses, sedums and wildflowers, or let the local plant population colonise it naturally.
Use your shed as a focal point
Shed painted in pastel colours. Photo: Getty Images.
Give your shed a makeover and turn it into the focal point of your garden. An old shed needn’t to be an eyesore and a new one can become a beautiful feature – a Swiss chalet or a beach hut evocative of holidays gone by. A simple coat of paint can lift a shabby shed instantly – try contrasting colours, adding stripes or bright zingy tones to draw the eye and make it really stand out. You can also read our summer house ideas.
Transform your shed for the kids
Summer house shed. Photo: Getty Images.
With a little imagination, a shed can become a castle, a dragon’s den or a pirate ship. Let your kids take the lead – simply give them some bunting and a few props, and let their fantasies take shape. It’s a great way to get them outside, away from the television and technology. And be sure to join them for some precious family time. Playing outside improves children’s coordination and concentration as well as their overall health and well-being.
Use your shed to grow plants
Shed window box with colourful bedding plants
If you’ve run out of growing space on the ground, look to the sides of your shed as the next place to grow more plants. Your shed is the perfect place to create a green wall. You can hang up pots or growing bags, or attach guttering and shelves that can be filled with pots. All of these can be planted up with seasonal displays, fast-growing veg or more permanent perennials.
Use your shed as a spare room
It’s not always easy to find space in your home for a hobby or work area, but a shed could be the answer. Add windows or a skylight, along with shelves, furniture and rugs, and electricity for heating, lighting or to run your computer. You could even install a wood-burning stove and chimney for a cosy winter workspace – all with a view directly onto your garden.
Erect shelves in your shed
Shed with hooks and shelves for storage
Sheds are classic dumping grounds, but it’s more than possible to declutter with style. Make use of the walls and ceiling by attaching hooks and nails to hang up tools, freeing up floor space. Add shelves to hold plant pots and fertiliser, and use baskets or crates to keep netting and fleece tidied away. Look out for old filing cabinets and vintage cupboards to keep all your odds and ends organised.
Screen your shed with plants
Clematis climbing over a shed. Photo: Getty Images.
If you want your shed to blend in to your garden, cover it with climbers. Self-clinging types, such as climbing hydrangea and ivy, will scramble up it unaided. Clematis, jasmine and honeysuckle will need help, so attach trellis or wires to the sides and guide your plants by tying them on with twine. Tie in new shoots as they appear. If you choose evergreens and fast growers, your shed will be hidden in no time.