In my neighborhood, the majority of houses have a storage shed tucked somewhere in the backyard. It’s often placed in the most inconspicuous location on the lot with little attention given to its scale, its design, or the quality of its materials.
However, by paying attention to the scale of a storage shed and by placing it sensitively in the landscape, you can transform it into a garden shed, a decorative focal element in the yard.
Purpose and proportions dictate shed sizeThe first thing you need to determine is the size of the shed, a function of both the shed's purpose and the size of the garden. Start by considering how the shed will be used. Will it be available for an activity such as potting? Will it be a backyard destination with an adjacent sitting area or patio? What items will be stored in the shed: outdoor tools and toys or overflow items from the house? Make a list of the things you want to store to estimate the space you need.
At a minimum, a garden shed needs to be 3 ft. deep for storage. Shelves maximize storage, but they should be at least 13 in. deep. To improve access, consider double doors to expose more of the interior.
If the shed will be used for an activity such as potting, you'll need a small work area inside or outside the structure. I like a counter about 3 ft. long and 2 ft. deep. For an inside workspace, you also need room to move around, generally about 3-1/2 ft. of depth (enough for a small chair).
A shed that is too large will look out of place and will diminish the usefulness of the yard. I prefer to limit the footprint of the shed to a proportion of garden size. For small gardens (up to 900 sq. ft.), the shed can be up to 3% or 4% of the garden. For a garden between 900 sq. ft. and 1500 sq. ft., devoting 5% to a shed is OK, but generally, I would not exceed 100 sq. ft. In a garden 3000 sq. ft. or larger, I suggest limiting the shed to 150 sq. ft.