Eco Ideas for a Garden Shed

A garden shed can be far more than just a space to store your garden tools.

Garden Shed
Julian Ward / Getty Images

A garden shed can be far more than a simple, off-the-shelf utility feature – it can be an integral part of a garden design. It can serve simple, practical functions, but also be far more than just a space to store your garden tools. The following ideas may spark inspiration for your own garden shed – from eco-friendly materials you can use for building, to how to use your garden shed, and how to integrate it into the garden design as a whole. 

Eco-Friendly Materials For a Garden Shed

Village of Mikladalur, Faroe Islands, Denmark
Take a cue from the turf-covered sheds and outbuildings in the Faroe Islands. miroslav_1 / Getty Images

Of course, an easy option for a garden is to simply buy a garden shed. But for those of us who are trying to reduce consumption, and do the right thing for people and the planet, DIY options are often the way to go. Building your own garden shed might not be the easiest do-it-yourself project to take on. But with a few simple DIY skills and a little ingenuity, it is something that many of us are perfectly capable of doing. 

If you do want to build your own garden shed, one of the first considerations will be which materials to use. One popular option is to use reclaimed timber to build your shed. Thinking outside the box, however, can yield a range of other interesting eco-friendly options. For example, you might:

  • Build a wattle and daub/cob garden shed.
  • Dig a partially earth-sheltered shed into an existing slope. 
  • Stack turf and create a sod or turf house-style shed. 
  • Build shed walls with earthbags.
  • Make a stone structure using natural rocks from your property. 
  • Stack cut logs/firewood to make shed walls. 
  • Create the walls of a garden shed with straw bales.
  • Incorporate tires, glass bottles, or other reuse materials into a new shed.
  • Roof a shed with wood shingles, or thatch, DIY metal shingles made from old olive oil cans, or a living green roof, for example. 

When you begin to consider the many different reclaimed and natural options available in your area, the more interesting options you will find to create a unique and beautiful shed for your garden. 

Eco-Friendly Uses of a Garden Shed

A garden shed workshop with plants trained up the outside, flowering. View through the open door of a man at work.
Using a garden shed for DIY projects helps to extend its use. Mint Images / Getty Images

Maximizing the green potential of your garden does not just involve thinking about how you can make your own shed using eco-friendly natural or reclaimed materials. It also involves thinking about how a garden shed can be used. Whether you make a shed, or simply buy one, there are plenty of uses for a garden shed that can help you live in a more eco-friendly and sustainable way.

For example:

  • A garden shed can be a potting and seed sowing space – that can help you grow your own food and other resources at home.
  • You could also potentially use shed space to store home-grown produce effectively in low-energy, traditional ways. 
  • Garden sheds can also be workshops – helping you take on DIY projects, craft, make do and mend.
  • Or they can be spaces to work from home – either with your hands or in a home-office scenario if appropriate services can be brought in. 
  • A garden shed can also be handy for storing a bicycle – or other means to get around in an eco-friendly way. 

Integrating a Garden Shed into the Garden

Garden shed
OGphoto / Getty Images

No matter what kind of shed you buy or make, the best sheds blend seamlessly into the natural garden environment. We need to make sure the man-made structures we add to a space enhance the natural environment, rather than detracting from it. 

Careful placement of a garden shed can diversify ecosystems – creating niches and little areas of different habitats in front of, beside, behind, and even on top of it. Thinking about the shade created by a shed, for example, we can make the most of the changes it makes to the environment. Partially shaded spots can be planted up with a range of shade-tolerant perennials. And deeper shade behind a shed might, for example, be a prime spot for mushroom cultivation. 

The structure itself can also be used to provide support for climbers and vines. Cracks and crevices can potentially be planted upon vertical surfaces. Or a green wall or vertical garden can be created. And living roofs can help blend the built structure into its surroundings. 

A garden shed design can also give thought to wildlife. Open eaves or openings into the roof space of a shed, for example, might be a place for nesting birds, or bats. Bird boxes, bee hotels, and other such features could be added to a shed's walls. A garden shed can house and help wildlife, as well as being a useful structure for you. 

A garden shed does not need to be a boring box in the corner of your garden. When you use your imagination and consider some of the eco ideas mentioned above, it can really enrich your garden and your life.