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How to choose the perfect shed

How to choose the perfect shed
Whether you are after an allotment-bound base or a back-garden bolthole from which to slurp tea and pretend to work, there is a shed out there for you. Sheds come in all shapes and sizes, and purchasing one can be a fraught affair unless you know what to look for. We cut through the jargon…

What type?

garden shed made of wood how to pick
Imagine your dream shed, and more often than not you’ll be thinking of a lovely rustic wooden one. Wood is the shed material of choice—it provides durability, traditional good looks and can be painted with treatments to stand out (or blend in) with its surroundings.
Wooden sheds will come with a choice of construction, the most commonly encountered being overlap, shiplap and tongue and groove. Overlap sheds are constructed by overlapping pieces of board which are hammered to vertical struts to form rustic looking walls. A step up is the shiplap construction, where each board interlocks, making the walls stronger and weather repellent. Tongue and groove cladding is the top-of-the-range, superior choice for the shed connoisseur which makes for a rigid, watertight structure.
Shed traditionalists may baulk, but a plastic shed is worth considering. Once you’ve bolted the walls, floor and ceiling together, it’ll remain virtually maintenance free and provide good protection from the elements. They do tend to get a bit steamy in the summer and the ones in the lower end of the market can be bit flimsy.
Metal sheds—like their plastic counterparts—are typically maintenance free and are a good choice for folks in search of a secure storage solution. Although these can be easier to erect than a wooden shed, they can lend a certain ‘municipal toilet facility’ vibe to your garden. And if you are seeking a spot of quiet contemplation, they are one of the worse places to be in a hailstorm.

Size it up

size it up
There’s nothing worse than shed remorse brought on by the purchase of an insubstantial, undersized structure, unfit for purpose. For a garden shed, bigger is always better.
Will you be potting up plants inside? Using it as a workshop? Storing bikes and garden furniture? All of the above? Providing you’ve got the space, a 6ftx8ft shed should see you covered. For added versatility, go for broke and get a shed with an attached awning.
If you fancy indulging in a spot of apple pressing this coming season (and who wouldn’t?) or need a covered area for chopping logs to feed the wood burner, you’ll be glad of the shelter should the weather take a turn for the worse.
Down on the allotment, your choice of size will be dictated by the rules of your tenancy agreement. Most allotment associations stipulate a maximum shed size, sometimes as small as 6x4ft. Although in this sized shed you’ll barely have enough room to swing a swede, it’ll be fine for storing your plant pots, nicknacks and the odd garden implement.

Pent or Apex?

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The type of roof is also worthy of consideration. There are typically two choices—pent and apex:
  • An apex roof (the v-shaped, traditional look) will give you better storage room and head height whilst providing faster rainwater run-off thanks to the twin sloping eaves.
  • A pent roof (a single, slanted roof section) are a good shout for on allotments. Fitting guttering to one of these types of sheds is a lot simpler—a single strip of guttering under the lower edge combined with a capacious water butt will sate the needs of your thirsty allotment.

Let there be light

shed light
Windowless sheds are the cheaper option, but it’s worth paying the extra to have light shine upon your potting activities. You can buy sheds with skylights (tricky to clean) and sheds with narrow security windows positioned above head height (expensive), but a single side window will do just fine.
If you desire to carry on shedding after the sun has set, you’ll need to install some kind of lighting. Your garden shed should be easily connectable your house mains supply with the aid of a decent extension cable (or qualified electrician), enabling you to hang a light from the shed ceiling or rest a lamp on your potting table or shelf.
For a neater, eco-solution that’ll work just as well down an electricity bereft allotment, fit a solar powered light. Technology has advanced quite considerably over the last few years, and many of these lights will provide a good amount of wattage. Whilst not quite on par with the brightness you’ll get from a mains powered light, the decent ones are certainly good enough for illuminating any nocturnal shed activities you may have planned.

Keep it secure

keep it secure
Sadly, your nice new shed may well attract the attention of ne’er-no wells, eager to jemmy open the door and steal the contents within. An isolated allotment-based shed can be particularly vulnerable, so fit an extra hasp and staple lock on your shed door and combine it with a padlock strong enough to repel a bolt cutter.
Paradoxically, a heavily bolted and padlocked shed can actually encourage a break-in by thieves, eager to find out what lies behind the fortifications.
The best security measure is to never leave anything of value in your shed. If at all possible, store any expensive kit you may have in a garage or lockup.
 
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