Guardian - Addition Bike Shed
Guardian: Gardens - Put it away
Posted: 12 Februrary 2011 by Dawn Isaac
View the article on their website.
Bikes and barbecues, tools and trampolines – the garden plays host to some serious clobber. So where best to store it all?
Ever since Adam and Eve needed fig leaves, storage has been the gardener's headache. Our plots are smaller than Eden, and the need to hide ugly horticultural clutter has never been greater.
Re-examine your dead space
Many townhouses have stairs leading to the front door, which can double up as a spacious covered area – fit internal shelves or divisions, and finish with stylish doors (for bespoke solutions, try Garden Trellis Company).
Equally, look downwards: hinged panels in floors can give access to cavities below decking, sheds or gazebos. Even as little as 30cm depth can create useful storage.
Of course, where there's room, a shed is best. Off-the-shelf numbers can be enhanced with paint, wood stains, door furniture or even additional roofing materials – shingle gives a traditional look or simply staple on brushwood rolls (rustic twigs in a flexible form) quickly to cover unsightly roof felt (£15.99/6 sq m, from gardencentreonline.co.uk). Install lighting to make scrabbling for tools a less dangerous affair.
Again, internal organisation is key: use tool racks (aplaceforeverything.co.uk has a nifty wooden tool hanger for £28), shelving, labelled boxes and even back-of-door storage pockets for plant labels and other small items.
If a shed is out of the question, however, look at smaller storage solutions (for example, the medium pent garden store, £69.99, from greenfingers.com) or clever dual-function furniture. "We've recently built seating for a client which houses logs underneath – a real storage issue in country properties," says garden designer Ann-Marie Powell. "I also use large outdoor storage boxes, which you can dress with cushions to double up as benches or an impromptu daybed."
You can achieve a similar look with off-the-shelf garden seat stores and tables (try the hardwood bench, £99.99, from garden4less.co.uk) but be warned: they tend not to be waterproof.
Out of sight, out of mind
Bulky garden items can cause the biggest problems. One of the easiest ways to deal with weatherproof monstrosities, such as children's slides or the ubiquitous wheelie bin, is to construct an L-shaped screen. This hides the offending article but still makes it easily accessible. Create the framework using three 100mm x 100mm treated wooden posts set in concrete foundations, then cover with a screening material. Try willow hurdles for a traditional look (check out the 5ft x 6ft panels from primrose-london.co.uk, £34.95) or horizontal slatted trellis for a contemporary feel.
Items such as bikes need a safer store. Off-the-shelf bike stores with strong locks are good solutions, but are rarely objects of beauty. If you choose a metal store (try Asgard bike store, £450), selecting one in a dark colour will at least help it be less conspicuous. Wooden versions (such as the BillyHo Pent bike store, £162.90 from gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk) can be improved with a coloured wood stain or by planting troughs on the roof. For a bespoke solution, lock your bike to brackets on a wall, then add a curved section of stainless steel or copper as a weather-proof roof.
As with internal rooms, a space seems larger if clutter is kept off the floor. So, off-the-ground hose reel holders are worth the investment (check out castinstyle.co.uk for a cast-iron hose tidy for £26.56). Wall-mounted cupboards can have acrylic mirrors, polished steel or a trompe l'oeil added to the front to give the illusion of depth.
That horrible barbecue...
Rather than a bulky standalone barbecue, garden designer Kate Gould uses surface-mounted grills with cupboards beneath to hide the gas canister and cooking gear. "It makes a slick-looking outdoor kitchen out of an awkward problem," she says.
Nifty storage kit is the gardener's nirvana, as designer Mark Gregory once found out at Chelsea. He'd designed slide-out compost drawers and green-roofed bin stores, but it was the wall-mounted washing line behind a hidden door that made Chelsea-goers the most breathless. "A common problem with a neat solution is what good storage design is all about," he says.