She Sheds the latest trend in gardening

From Ellwood City Ledger –


Is a garden shed a necessity or extravagance? Is it utilitarian or magical?

“A structure is defined by its purpose, not its design style,” according to the Amish owners of Homestead Structures.

Magazines, books and websites are dedicated to garden sheds. Some are simply containers for tools and garden implements; others swing to the opposite extreme. These structures come with crystal chandeliers, Oriental carpets and overstuffed upholstery.

If you visited the Pittsburgh Home and Garden Show last month, you probably saw one of the newest trends: She Sheds. These miniature spaces are designed to give women a place to escape and relax, kind of like a playhouse for grown-ups.

A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article compares them to “man caves” and others think of them like the current interest in “tiny houses.” I’m afraid my garden shed usually points more to work than loafing around. But if you love gardening, these chores are labors of love.

I think there is a happy medium in the garden shed debate. You need to begin with the basics and expand from there. List your needs, wants, budget and space constraints. Consider design styles and what will work well in your setting. There are endless sources for inspiration, but beware the plethora of choices; they can cause confusion. Many upscale sheds are way beyond most people’s financial means, but it is fun to window shop and gather ideas.

Sheds can be wood, metal or resin. They might be glass, like a greenhouse, stone like an old root cellar or a combination. You can buy them at a big-box store, online or have a company install one. Of course, you can also build one from scratch with new or recycled materials. All these choices are dependent on your needs, budget and skills.

Your shed needs to be weather and animal tight. A solid floor, sturdy walls and a strong roof are basic. Ideally, I think a garden shed should have space for long tools; hanging, or stored upright in barrels or lengths of stationery PVC. There should be bins to hold potting soil and other bulk supplies. Storage for gloves, hand tools, plant markers and twine is needed. Shelves for pots, seeds, fertilizers and other supplies should be strong.

An entry ramp or a ground-level entrance makes life easier; forget those stairs. A wide doorway for easy access with mowers and wheelbarrows is a must. A rain barrel nearby would be a bonus and windows for natural light a plus. A potting bench is sure nice to have, hooks for aprons, hats and a stool for sitting all make a garden shed a nicer place to work. A table or work surface will get a lot of use. Floor space for seasonal garden art and other big items is super if you have the square footage.

Now if you have extra space, time and money, add that electricity and lighting, running water, a sink and even a cozy place to sit. Feeling extra extravagant? Add a fridge, kitchenette, bookshelves, artwork, a ceiling fan, even a bed.

The sky is the limit. Choose carefully and a garden shed can give you years of service and maybe even a bit of fun.

Martha Murdock is a Master Gardener with Penn State Extension – Beaver County.

References: Hayneedle; Houzz; Flea Market Gardens, 2016; Homestead Structures; Sunset Designs; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.