Order in Jane’s Garden Shed

Guest post by Professional Organizer, Lea Schneider, www.organizerightnow.com

[Editor’s Note: Posted here are “before” photos of my garden shed as it is; I’ll post “after” pictures once I’ve had a chance to some of Lea’s suggestions to good use.]

It’s one thing to have a bit of chaos in the garden. It’s grand to find wildflowers and native grasses popping up among your carefully planted scabiosa (a personal favorite) and salvia clevlandii.

Garden ShedIt’s another thing to find chaos in your garden shed. Creating order is my specialty and creating order related to gardening is my love.

Years ago, before I was a professional organizer, I worked for a professional flower grower. I laugh today when I think about how I convinced the nationally famous grower to hire me. When she inquired about my then-limited growing skills, I responded by pointing to piles of gardening gear, from seeds to catalogs, gloves, hats, cuttings, customer phone messages, tools and more, saying “I can make all of this go away.” I got the job.

Yes, organization exists in the gardening world. While naturalized gardens are lovely, they don’t exist without organization. A gardener must organize when plants need to be set in the ground, when they must be divided, how close or far apart to be set, if they are sun or shade and must know which are tall and which are not. Then there is another to-do list regarding their watering, feeding and maintenance.

I understand Jane wants a bit of help with her garden shed. That’s a great task to take on because have a pleasing-to-the-eye shed adds to the garden and having it organized makes your gardening easier – which keeps the fun in the task.

Get Lofted
A potting bench, built-in tall table or even wood placed over sawhorses can double your space. Use the floor space underneath it to park equipment too heavy to hang for storing heavy bags of soil or mulch.

Go Vertical
A typical shed doesn’t have a lot of floor space so make good use of the walls. You can easily store tools, small equipment or really anything from pegboard to some of that extra lattice you have stashed. Hang the lattice and use s-hooks to hang hand trowels, watering wands, garden hats and other non-heavy gear. A pegboard and hooks can hold the heavier tools and garden hoses.

Use heavy nails or hooks placed near the ceiling, or even on the ceiling, to hold lighter large equipment. It is possible to hang occasionally used pieces such as a fertilizer spreader.

Wall-Planters or half-baskets made for the wall make great storage. Use them to hold gardening files and catalogs. Keep lists of your flower pots and the plants you placed in the ground this year to make shopping easier next year. Drop in plant tags so you can refer to them as needed.

Gather Your Sticks
Two loose loops of wire or rope, attached to the side wall or even ceiling make a great place to corral garden stakes. Slide them all in and just pull out one as needed. No more tripping over them as they crash to the floor.

Garden Shed TableDon’t Forget
There’s always more to do in a garden than daylight to do it. Keep up with reminders to yourself about feeding or dividing of plants by keeping notes on a dry erase board.

Trash Containers
You wouldn’t think there would be trash in gardening but there is. Be sure to have two containers; one for trash and another for recyclable pots and bottles.

Tackle the Tools
Before storing away, be sure to remove wet dirt. Take time to clean loppers and clippers as they are most likely to rust in a short time because sap has acidity. If sticky, remove sap with turpentine. Once tools are clean, wipe with an oily rag to prevent rust.

If you find rust on tools then remove it with sandpaper, a wire brush or use a brush attachment for a drill. Wash them in soapy water. Dry well. Sharpen edges with a sharpening block or knife sharpener. Apply coat of oil or spray lubricant W-D 40.

If rusting continues to be a problem, store in a bucket of sand moistened with oil. They will stay sharp and not rust.

Control Chemicals
There’s always going to be some in your shed. Even organic gardeners end up with fertilizers or natural pest control products. Plan for a safe storage area for these items. It should be dry, up off the ground and should be in a locked cabinet if children have access to the yard and shed. If storing ammonium nitrate fertilizers, be sure to follow all safety precautions for storing. Read about fertilizer chemical safety.

Stack Flower Pots
Add sturdy, non-metal shelving to hold flower pots. If you build some with wood, leave a gap between boards to allow air circulation. Or, choose some easy, snap together PVC ones from the home improvement store.

Take a Seat
Gardening is fun- but work too. Add a stool to your shed. You’ll always find a few sit-down jobs or wish to take a break for a minute.


Lea Schneider, owner of Organize Right Now, is a professional organizer providing organizing and consulting for everything from piles of papers to closets to garden sheds. Her organizing advice has appeared in numerous places including The Washington Post, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Natural Health, Better Homes and Gardens Kids’ Rooms and ThisOldHouse.com. She is the author of “Growing-Up Organized,” (Amazon.com, $14) and was the Grand Prize Winner for the Rolodex Office Makeover Challenge. Lea is a golden circle member of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

21 responses to “Order in Jane’s Garden Shed”

    • I can’t wait to get started organizing my garden shed! Such great advice. Thanks. I’ll keep everyone posted as I go along, so keep checking. Jane

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