The Garden House: Small Scale Buildings for the Gardener

wood garden shed

A greenhouse, an old playhouse, a tool shed - even a chicken coop can function as the gardener's ultimate domain. Small scale buildings like gazebos or screened-in pavilions add both function and charm to any setting.

Whether you require small out-buildings for storage or as simple retreats for getting out of the house, these special places offer workshop space and add decorative character to the landscape. The following article discusses various styles of garden houses and how they can work for you and your garden.

Gazebos have a long tradition as places for garden recreation and enjoyment. There are many styles for wooden Victorian structures to more formal brick and windowed constructions. Generally, they offer seating and provide the best view of the landscape. They are perfect areas for entertaining company. Gardeners may select preset design plans or even design their own to suit their particular needs.

An Oriental garden could certainly benefit from a small-scale pavilion in which to reflect on the surrounding nature - as is the custom of the Orient. Like gazebos, these are truly functional ornaments of the landscape where guests can be seated to view such features as a floating garden or a Japanese tea garden replete with rock wall and waterfall.

For the gypsy in you, a caravan - or some such wagon - might be converted into a simple out-building where you perform your seed divisions or transfer your cuttings. A rustic enhancement to any setting, yours might be comprised of simple materials and plopped anywhere in the garden. Simple huts made from plywood and painted to taste offer similar spots for simple gardening tasks.

Converting a child's playhouse into a mini-workshop or storage area is quite simple since you already have the main structure in place. This may have to be adjusted for height, but often this is a great make-over project to dive into once the kids have outgrown it. Some creative gardeners even make-over outdoor pet homes like chicken coups to function as garden sheds for storage of their terracotta pots and garden tools.

Of course, gardeners with young children may want a playhouse to function as such. It keeps the kids busy and close by. It is also a wonderful way to introduce them to the life of the garden where they may be enthusiastic enough to help weed or pick berries.

Part of the charm of these small-scale buildings is to incorporate them into the character of your garden. Adding window boxes to sheds or hanging vintage metal advertising signs on the outside walls might go a long way to reflecting the gardener's decorative sensibilities. Cultivating English ivy for the outside is another charming way to add country cottage warmth to a small building.

When designing your garden house from scratch, the size you choose will be dictated by the size of your location but what you will actually require the space for should also influence your design choices.

An ideal garden structure should boast a roof that doesn't leak (if expense is no object, why not add a sunroof for some indoor plants) and windows. An outer porch or small deck where you could incorporate some seating is a great idea. Adding an overhang to your roof would allow you to add a nice assortment of hanging flower baskets.

Naturally, a floor is a great asset—you've got enough dirt to deal with in the garden itself! Also, four walls and a door are nice, but some small-scale structures might work more as alcoves with one open side.

Inside, you'll want a workbench, some shelving, and lots of hooks for your various garden implements. Running some electricity out to your garden house may be an expensive option, but it will allow you to work efficiently during the evening when you may have some free time to enjoy a special project.

Garden houses will also function as wonderful craft areas—great places to refinish old woodwork; it keeps odors and mess out of the house.

The point is, these oversized garden props are lovely attributes for any landscape when decorated to fit their surroundings, but they also provide busy gardeners a place to store tools, dry herbs, transfer plants, etc. You can find design plans for garden houses at various gardening centers or even online garden stores.