The area surrounding a shed’s front door should be as carefully considered as the structure itself. When gazing at a she shed, the eye takes in the front facade with its windows and doorway as well as the immediate framework created by the landscape. Fencing, trees, shrubbery, garden areas, lawn, swimming pool, back porch, decking—all may play a part in adding to (or detracting from) the she shed’s site location.
In a perfect world, the she shed is built on a small rise of land, far enough from the main house for privacy, surrounded by mature trees and gardens. No bland stucco walls or utility lines are in sight, just pastoral views as far as the eye can see. Unfortunately, this situation is extremely rare. Most she shed owners will need to be creative and resourceful to create a visually appealing spot. They will also need to work around the elements they already have.
There are both practical and aesthetic considerations for siting your she shed. Here are some important ones.
• Many cities and neighbourhoods have rules about how far a structure needs to be from the property line, how many square feet it is, and how high the roof can be. Research your area’s rules before investing time planning a site.
• Consider your rainfall and the drainage of your property. Keep the she shed away from (or above) areas that get a lot of accumulated moisture.
• What are your foundation options? Perhaps you have a concrete surface already in the backyard. Could it support a she shed?
• Plan the relationship to the main house. The she shed strikes a nice pose when it faces the back of the house, but that isn’t the only way to go. Think about proximity too; you want the she shed close enough for convenient walking back and forth, but not so close that it crowds the physical space around the home.
Once these basics have been covered, a plan that may include hardscape and plantings can be hatched. Strive to integrate the landscape design you already have and, if necessary, seek the advice of a professional garden designer. Sometimes having a fresh pair of eyes will illuminate ideas you haven’t yet considered.
The she shed owner usually does not have the luxury of choosing from myriad perfect locations in her backyard. She must work toward the best, perhaps even the only, practical solution. Here are five areas or conditions that could help narrow it down.
1. She sheds work well in the final frontier (i.e. the very back) of the backyard. The shed adds definition to the property line and enjoys plentiful landscaped area in front of it. Lots of attention will be needed for pathways, and you’ll want some colour or other decorative elements on the shed to make it pop.
2. A well-centred she shed lends symmetry to the backyard, allowing for gardens to surround it in a very picturesque way. If the house is not quite centred, you may want to place the shed at a diagonal so that the front facade is visible from the house.
3. There’s nothing at all wrong with a solid, dependable concrete slab or a brick pad for the she shed. However, sheds on raised foundations provide a ‘skyline’ that can greatly enhance the yard’s overall landscape.
4. Do you have a preexisting foundation? It’s somewhat contrary to #3, but it’s something to pay attention to if you have one. You’ll need a very good reason to ignore a site that is already level, has good drainage, and is ready for building.
5. They say good fences make good neighbours; sometimes she sheds do too. Consider placing your she shed in a spot that doesn’t have fences or shrubbery for adequate privacy screening. Be sure and clear it with affected neighbours before building; chances are they’ll be just as glad to have their privacy improved too!
Stylish Ideas for the Ground-Level She Shed
If your shed is planted firmly on flat ground, don’t worry. (Mine is too!) The important thing is to make the shed feel established and intentional, not plopped down. There are lots of fun ways to do this.
Define the area.
If possible, create a shaped area (circular, square, or freeform) about three–four feet wider than the she shed. Softscape can be a green lawn or mulch with interesting plantings; think succulents and tropicals with a modern-style shed or flowering shrubs for traditional-, cottage-, or romantic-style sheds.
Treat the shed as a garden sculpture — think obelisk or statuary. Train vines against it, install window boxes and bracketed shelves for potted plants, and establish dwarf trees and flowers as close to the perimeter as possible.
An effective way to get dimension is to layer plants by height. Begin with taller shrubs and flowers directly against the walls of the shed, then graduate to smaller plants working outward. It makes the shed appear like it ‘grew’ out of the ground too.
The easiest trick in the book is container gardening — and it looks terrific just about everywhere around a shed. Bank pretty pots around the doorway and line them up across from each other to create a pathway. Hang them from rafter beams and park them on small tables.
‘Float’ a deck.
A ground-level deck is still possible, if your shed’s door threshold is at least six inches above thev ground. A floating deck hovers just slightly over concrete or sod, with just enough room for airflow. Ask your contractor about options that are appropriate for your area’s weather conditions.
Excerpted from She Sheds Style: Make Your Space Your Own by Erika Kotite, £16.99 Cool Springs Press.