Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop – Sheds and Outbuildings

– Posted in: Garden Design

It’s hard to think of an excuse for having an ugly garden shed. Oh, sure, most of them start out looking rather boring, but they don’t have to stay that way. Think of all the fun you can have with a few cans of paint, for instance, playing with different color effects. If you don’t feel comfortable painting the whole structure some gaudy color, then you can at least play around with the trim.

And then there are the planting possibilities you can explore with sheds and other outbuildings. Whether you want a shed for your tools or a shed for business, surround them with a border, create a pretty path leading to them, and dress them up with vines, trellises, and window boxes.

Sheds from places like can also provide a perfect place for showcasing potted purchases while you’re trying to find a permanent home for them in your garden.

Dressing up an existing outbuilding is one issue; planning a brand new structure is a whole other adventure and creating sturdy shed foundations is the key to a good shed. You might choose something a little silly, such as a tool shed that masquerades as an outhouse…

…or build something out of unusual materials…

…or find someone who has an old shed they no longer need and move it to your own place to add instant character.

I know that a number of you have fun sheds and outbuildings to share (Lisa at Greenbow is one of the first to come to mind), so I hope we’ll get an abundance of entries this month!

If you’re new to the Garden Bloggers’ Design Workshop, here’s how it works: Write a post on anything related to sheds and outbuildings in the garden on your own blog and leave a link here (already-archived posts count too), or jot down your thoughts in a comment below. At the end of the month, I’ll gather all of the links into one summary post for easy reference. If you’re interested in checking out previous GBD Workshops, you can find them here:

Paths and Walkways
Fences and Walls
Arbors and Pergolas
Color in the Garden
Container Plantings
Front-Yard Gardens
Stone in the Garden
Decks, Porches, and Patios
Garden Whimsy
Trellises and Screens
Water in the Garden

Nancy J. Ondra
Nan gardens on 4 acres in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. In the firm belief that every garden ought to have a pretentious-sounding (or at least pretentious-looking) name, she refers to her home grounds as "Hayefield." There, she experiments with a wide variety of plants and planting styles, from cottage gardens and color-based borders to managed meadows, naturalistic plantings, and veggies--all under the watchful eyes of her two pet alpacas, Daniel and Duncan.
Nancy J. Ondra

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15 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

Shirl October 1, 2008, 6:32 am

Hi again Nan 😀

These sheds all look very interesting to me. Here in the UK sheds are not really seen as fun. But strangely enough I was getting glass changed in mine as you posted this – I do love my new potting shed.

I’d like to join you on this one too and promise I will be much more organised this time 😀

And hi again to you! How sad to think of a shed as purely practical when it can be so fun to decorate. Or perhaps I’m just projecting a childhood wish for a permanent playhouse onto my existing outdoor structures. I really ought to direct my attention to making the *inside* of my sheds more attractive (i.e., more organized).

I look forward to seeing your spruced-up shed.

Frances October 1, 2008, 7:00 am

Hooray, this is one I can dig into. My shed is a mess and this will force me to clean it up for photos. All of your examples are mouth watering, love the second one with the sumac, delightful.

Isn’t that combination awesome? That’s from the office border at work. The boss took a leaf of Golden Spirit smokebush into the paint store to get a color match for the trim paint. The chartreuse works equally well for the Tiger Eyes sumac in the same border.

Dave October 1, 2008, 10:51 am

That’s something I desperately need but can’t afford to do anything with just yet! I really like the partially painted green shed. It has a rustic quality to it that is perfect for the garden. Maybe I’ll get some ideas on how to put one together economically. I have lumber and I have windows, surely I can do something!

Ooh, I sense a new project for your to-do list, Dave. Hopefully someone will come up with some useful ideas for you.

Happy Gardener October 1, 2008, 5:35 pm

These sheds are so much fun!

I love the log shed – really original, lots of food for thought here.

Welcome, Happy! Isn’t that a clever idea? That shed is located in upstate Vermont, on the same property as some amazing stonework, such as this free-stack stone fantasy:

You can see more of this uber-talented woman’s work at, if you’re interested.

Frances October 6, 2008, 6:05 am

My post is up.


Thanks, Frances, for a great post. You’re brave to share even interior photos. Notice that I didn’t show the inside of mine!

Angela (Cottage Magpie) October 8, 2008, 3:10 am

Oooh, I’m excited. I’m just starting my shed project and I can’t wait to share. I hope I can get it done before the end of the month! Even if I can’t, I’ll love seeing what everyone else has. I’ve been gone all summer, but I’m excited to join in again. Those pictures you have are fantastic!
~Angela 🙂

Thanks, Angela! It’s great to see you here again, and I look forward to seeing your post this month (or whenever you can get to it).

Heirloom Gardener October 9, 2008, 3:05 pm


I’m sorry that I’ve missed the last few workshops. The size and slope of our suburban lot does not welcoming to outbuildings, which I love. We do have one: a fort that my husband built for our children. It’s been a constant source of fun for them and, of course, a gardening opportunity for me:

-Heirloom Gardener

Thanks for the link, HG. And no worries about missing a few workshops; we appreciate everyone who participates whenever they can, whether it’s by reading or posting (or both)!

Heirloom Gardener October 9, 2008, 10:29 pm


I also put a post about this month’s design workshop and another picture of the fort from the summer:

You may want to include this post, not the original, but I leave it in your good hands. Thanks again–I love the design workshops.

-Heirloom Gardener

Let’s keep this one too; thanks!

Jim October 13, 2008, 5:29 pm

I’m in Nan, please visit:

Thanks, Jim. Love the title of your post!

Kim Taylor October 15, 2008, 2:07 pm

Hi! I’m intrigued by your Garden Bloggers’ Design Day posts. How does this work? Do other bloggers post about the same topic on the same day you do? Do you need additional contributors? If so, I’m interested! Thanks, Kim

Welcome, Kim! The Design Workshop topic gets posted on the first of each month. Anyone who wants to write a post relating to the topic, or who has written about it previously, can leave a link on the kick-off post during the month. On the last day of the month, I do a wrap-up post to collect all the links that have been submitted, so it’s easy for everyone who is interested in the topic to find them. We’d be thrilled to have you join us! Let me know if you have any other questions.

Lois J. de Vries October 17, 2008, 4:13 pm

Hi Nan,

Check out our outhouse toolshed at


Thanks for sharing the link, Lois!

Commonweeder December 6, 2008, 10:42 am

We’ve built 2 sheds since we came to the End of the Road. The utilitarian shed has a Shed Bed planted with roses. This is lovely because it is right next to the old chicken house so I get to admire the roses at least twice a day. The other Shed is our Cottage Ornee for cool relaxing and lovely socializing. Out of the sun.

Want to share pictures, Pat? Leave us a link!

Norma July 16, 2015, 5:11 am

In 2008-2009 I did a series of blog entries on the cottages and garages at Lakeside, Ohio. This week I did garden sheds. Just found this (can’t find a date) and have enjoyed it.

Fran Sorin July 16, 2015, 5:30 am

Norma- Am glad to hear that. Thanks for your comment. Fran

workshop sheds February 5, 2018, 11:42 pm

great article! thanks for this!

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