Planning for a Shed-less Garden Shed

One of the features that my new garden design won’t have is a garden shed.

They aren’t allowed in my subdivision.

I knew they weren’t allowed when I moved here and so I made sure the garage was big enough to store the countless hoes, hand tools, chipper/shredders, wheelbarrow, garden cart, tiller, cultivator, truck, and other gardening tools I’ve accumulated over the years, along with the lawn mower. (Okay, mowers, plural, but that’s not the point here.)

What I didn’t count on was that I would someday like to have a shelter of some kind in the garden, a retreat where I could keep garden treasures and secrets to achieving happiness in the garden. I didn’t realize I would want a place to go to be closer to the garden in any kind of weather.

But I do.

And I have a plan to get that place, without violating any covenants.

The other day, when the Garden Designer came to see my garden for the first time, she and her Partner in Digging went inside the house to look out the windows to see what I see in the garden when I look out.  According to Helen at Gardening With Confidence™, considering the view from the inside out is number one on her list of 50 ways to love your garden. I would have been surprised if the Garden Designer hadn't wanted to see these views.

Once inside, we went into the sunroom, and the Garden Designer commented how nice it was to be in there surrounded by the garden.

That was kind of her to say, but the room really isn’t set up to allow for spending much time in there. It mostly has plants in it taking up all the space in front of the windows, as plants sometimes do. I go in there just to water them but don’t find myself sitting in there enjoying the views of the garden.

So here’s my plan.

I think the views out the windows of the sunroom will improve considerably with the Garden Designer’s design, and I want to enjoy those views in all seasons. So at the end of this new gardening season that is just beginning, I’m going to work on making that room more of my personal “garden shed”, where I can go to be in the garden without being outside. It will be a shed-less garden shed.

I’m getting plenty of inspiration on how I might do this by reading Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideaways by Debra Prinzing*. The book is loaded with ideas and photographs of a variety of different styles of garden sheds, personalized to fit the needs of the owners.  I think some of their ideas can be adapted to my sunroom.

Reading through the book, I'm inspired to bring in some of the retired, antique garden tools I have, move some plants out to other places, add some more comfortable seating, improve the lighting for night time and for reading and writing…

Maybe I’ll start working on this room sooner than next fall?

*It was my pleasure and privilege to meet Debra Prinzing last fall at the Garden Writers Association symposium, where she gave me a copy of her book, Stylish Sheds and Elegant Hideways.


  1. That sounds a great idea, everyone needs somewhere where they can look at their handiwork in any weather. I didn't realise that sheds weren't allowed some places.

  2. Excellent idea, Carol! I have this recurring dream where I open a door to a room I have yet begun to live in. It sounds like my dream came true for you!

    I too long for a room of my own and Debra's book had a lot to do with that. In Three in the Series of 50 Ways to Love your Garden, is a sketch over a photo to show a design technique. But it is also where I hope my garden room - a greenhouse, that will also be my retreat. My day will come. In the meantime, I will live vicariously through you. H.

    P.S. thanks for the link love

  3. This does sound like a wonderful idea. Hope you post photos along the way to it being complete...right, like anything garden related is ever complete....

  4. Yes, you need to utilize that sun room so you can feel like you are in the garden all the time. Isn't it fun to have someone with an open mind come through and look at your spaces. This is a fun journey. I am so glad you are sharing it with us. Our Casa (screen house) has really lengthened our time in the garden. I don't know what I did before we got one. I would like a more permanent structure some day.

  5. thanks for sharing the information on Planning for a Shed-less Garden Shed. It was nice going through your blog. Your blog is informative and helpful.

  6. The sunroom sounds like a great option. I've gardened without a shed for a while and am glad to almost be finished with the main construction parts. At least I can store the mowers in it!

  7. Hi Carol, thanks for mentioning Stylish Sheds as a resource for designing or dreaming up a room-of-one's-own in the garden. Ironically, when I left my sweet shed in my Seattle garden behind and moved to Southern Cali, little did I know about Homeowners' Associations. Sounds like you have a similar situation in your neighborhood! How is it that pool houses are approved but stylish sheds are forbidden?!
    I wish you the best with your shed-less garden shed design - please let me know how it turns out!

    xoxo Debra

  8. Carol, I'm glad you found a solution to that garden shed problem.

    You can't keep a garden lover down for long! good for you.

  9. We have a sunroom attached to our house, and I often say if I had to choose between the house and the sunroom, I wouldn't be sure what to pick. I think you'll love having the sunroom!

  10. Yessss! I too am bound by homeowner covenants, and I have a small porchy place off the kitchen that I could make into a one-woman retreat. I'm eager to see your pictures and progress as you tackle this design. My space is only 7 by 14 feet... how much room do you have to work with? Ideas, ideas!

  11. I love the idea of sorting out that sunroom so that it becomes your retreat with a lovely view of your garden! Sounds wonderful! I hope you post pictures of the view when it's done. What am I saying? Of course you will!

    I don't know what I'd do without my shed. I don't use it as a retreat, I use it for storage, and that extra space is invaluable.

  12. When you visited my garden you saw the future home of my sun room. I'm just saving up to budget expanding our small sitting area all the way out to the garden. Gonna cost a bundle I'm sure with all the glass and lighting I want.

    You'll love having a place to sit in the winter and enjoy being surrounded by your beautiful garden.

  13. How sad, sad, sad that you can't have a shed. It seems a crazy regulation to me. like all the argument against front lawns vs flower/vegetable gardens. What does it matter?
    Not that in Europe we're not without our regulations - but they're not quite so restricting, I don't think - ???

  14. I have a cute little shed with a cedar shake roof. It is only 3 feet by six feet so it doesn't hold a lot. We have a big snowblower in there, tomato cages, hanging basket, cement, sand, potting soil - no tool, all out of room. I don't know what I would do without it!


  15. Sounds like a good plan to me, Carol - the space can morph from Plant Room to Conservatory without having to break rules.

    The HOA in my current neighborhood allows sheds if they meet size, height and location regulations, not a bad idea. At the last house? Forbidden. I think the goal was to have residents who pay other people to bring tools in to do things rather than own tools and do any work themselves.

    Real life is so messy, dontcha know!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  16. Carol, The sunroom sounds ideal~especially with HOA opposition. I personally think that sheds can be garden and yard assets but...gail

  17. What a great idea Carol. I'd love somewhere like that. I'm sure you'll get a lot of use out of it.

  18. That's a great idea, Carol, and how great that your designer is inspiring you already. I love Prinzing's shed book - it is just like garden porn - I can't stop looking at those amazing structures. I want one, too -- wish I could just 'order' one right from her book! Have fun.

  19. I think that's a fantastic idea, and in the end might even be better than the shed because you won't have to traipse through the rain to get to it. It leads me to imagining the 'sleeping porches' of my childhood where you have your nice sunday afternoon naps cuddled by the summer breezes! Inside yet outside.

  20. Okay, so no shed, but would the Nosyhood Association let you dig a hole and build a bunker?

  21. I've been thinking about the view from the chair where I have my morning coffee. The result is a plan for a lean to on the end of the Tractor Shed (no covenants out in the country) which is good because if you have one shed you will soon need more. We think Heath is a Town of Sheds. They are irresistible.

  22. Carol, I love the idea of this shedless garden shed. In the summer, I spend an inordinate amount of time sitting out on my screened-in deck with wonderful views of the garden, but it would be nice to have a space that was comfortable to sit in more of the year. I hope you'll share the redesign of your sunroom as it progresses. -Jean

  23. Fantastic idea, Carol. With more structure and evergreens in your garden, per your designer's suggestion, you'll have plenty to enjoy from the sunroom, even in winter.

  24. That's a great idea! This is my first time to hear of a shed-less garden shed. It would have better to have a garden storage shed but with the HOA restrictions, it's good to have an alternative. I also love to look at my garden and see the beauty around.


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