Garage in the Garden

– Posted in: Garden Design

I really enjoyed reading Nancy Ondra’s Garden Blogger’s Design Workshop for this month on Sheds and Outbuildings. My gardening tools haven’t had a real place to call home for years, since they had to compete for space with larger, bulkier equipment essential to my motorhead husband. An ever-present tangle of tools filled one corner of the garage and a permanent pile in my garden cart made using it a pain. Smaller essentials—pruning shears, labels, garden stakes, twine and the like—found their way into a scattering of five-gallon plastic buckets. When we eliminated the stack of long-handled tools by hanging a row of hooks along one entire wall, I thought I’d attained tool-storage heaven. Then we moved.

This converted garage houses storage space for tools plus it's insulated for overwintering tender perennials and houseplants. This morning, the last of the containers are crowded near the door so they can be moved inside to escape fall frost.

This converted garage houses storage space for tools plus it provides insulated space for overwintering tender perennials and houseplants.

Our new place in Maryland brought with it a small garage/workshop. From the start, it was clearly too small for my husband’s needs and we did need to repair a few things. The smaller building became mine when we added a garage for his equipment at the upper edge of the property. At first all I thought about was hanging a couple of tool racks and having a place for my garden cart, but once reality set it, I really began to dream.

The final configuration is perfect, although I’m still getting organized. There are tool racks, to be sure, but I’ve got more than I thought we would have room for since we added a wall down the center of the building, separating the garage bay from the workshop side. We were thinking about getting some backyard storage from somewhere similar to but stay with what we had. We also insulated the whole building. We recycled a large (6 x 10 feet?) peg board on one wall for small tools and garden stakes, and also added several re-purposed book cases for smaller stuff like labels and pots. My husband also built me a work/potting bench in the garage side, so no more worrying about piling potting soil on his workbench!

We also added windows—a recycled Thermopane picture window on one side and new windows on the other—and the end result is a greenhouse-like structure with room for overwintering tender perennials and storage for houseplants that don’t make it indoors for whatever reason. In winter I can keep the greenhouse side in the 60s with a plug-in radiator.

The in-ground garden hasn’t yet grown up around the shed, but that’s only a matter of time. From the start I’ve enjoyed dressing up the building with containers and houseplants for summer. On the front, a heavy-duty rack originally designed to hold horse tack provides space for hanging plants and part of my watering can collection. Suffice it to say, my tools are happy to finally be fully at home—if still somewhat disorganized. And while I’m thrilled to finally have a real garden work space, I noticed a potential problem this fall: my husband’s fishing poles and tackle are working their way in among my gardening tools. . . .

Barbara Ellis

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Nancy Bond October 23, 2008, 10:20 am

Your garden shed is absolutely charming, not to mention functional. Good for you!

Thanks, I’m glad you like it! The charming part is pretty easy, I think, since all you need is some containers of plants and a few garden artifacts like extra watering cans. For me, functional is the harder part. I knew if we didn’t plan out the use and design, though, the garage would just become storage space for stuff we didn’t use. That would have left me with the same sorry tangle of garden tools I’d coped with for years.


Kitt October 23, 2008, 10:35 am

Very nice! When I had a garage built at my last house, I opted for a larger window facing the yard, to which I added green shutters and a window box. Visitors often asked who lived in the cute cottage out back!

Wish I could convert my current garage to such a nice garden house as yours, but I still need it to hold the car! If it didn’t snow here …

Oh, I hadn’t thought about window boxes! What a great idea! I am planning on having flower beds under one side of the garage (on the west-facing that overlooks the backyard), but window boxes would be a nice addition. The east side and south (back) are eventually going to be devoted to nursery beds. They’re mulched now, but the soil needs lots of work.

And as for cars in the garage, it’s true, mine lives outside now. We do get snow, but not that much down here on the Eastern Shore.

Lisa at Greenbow October 23, 2008, 3:59 pm

You are quite lucky to have such a space for your garden tools. I like the way you added the windows.

I’m thankful for the space every time I use it! At some point, I’ll write more about the greenhouse function. There are benches under the windows, so it holds tons of plants. It also makes a nice sunny gardeny space to work on cold winter days.

Cameron (Defining Your Home Garden) October 23, 2008, 5:55 pm

I envy your wonderful gardening shed. Your gardening shed has so much character! Oh, to have such a space.

We have those dreaded HOA rules about outbuildings. If we built one, it would have to “match” our house…far too expensive to shingle a steep roof, use cedar shakes, stone, etc. I have a bit of space in the garage and a bit of room underneath our screened porch, but that’s not a pleasant place to go! You’ve got a great shed and your gardens surrounding it will be beautiful, too! Cameron

Luckily, we didn’t have to deal with HOA rules, although my garage matches our house because we had to replace the siding on both buildings anyway. I’ve found that having the space and organizing it are two different things. I’ve got a ways to go to get everything put away, plus for me it’s a challenge to put things back in their proper place, but I’m trying to be good!

Frances October 24, 2008, 1:31 pm

Hi Barbara, you are lucky to have such a large space with room for both storage of tools, plants and a potting area, and insulated too! The windows are an excellent addition to help with the plants and make it a nicer space to be for you too. Watch out for incroaching fishing gear, it is the sin edge of the wedge! ;->

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