Garden shed-cottage

cleocrafta(z4 MN)December 10, 2005

Even though the snow & temps are falling, I'm excited for a spring project awaiting me. My husband & I will be building a garden shed-cottage structure this spring. While we have the time this winter, I'm to come up with some designs and a wish list of features I want included. To stay on a frugal budget,recycled items (wood,windows etc) must be used. To the MN gardeners who dream of or are lucky enough to have such a building,please give me some pointers on what to include. I hope to have a place to pot plants, store tools & pots,and yet look whimsical with climing flowers etc. Please dream with me and let me know what you think. Thanks for your creative suggestions.

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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

OOOHHHH- I always wanted a shed with a attached south facing wall of glass , with shelving to place plants/pots/seedlings right next to the glass, just under a large deciduous tree so that it could be a walk-in cold frame in the spring and fall but not bake in summer- and have a very large "slide" style door(s) with a ramp to get the tiller or other larger items in- with a hose to have "running" water- with a drain to dump out into the garden- and windows or openings on 4 sides for cross ventilation- and an adjustable height potting table- and I always wanted a porch- so why not throw on a screened porch with seating for 2- and tunes! you have to have music!!
The Re Use center in MPLS would be a great place to look for recycled building materials- you cold use sliding glass doors to make the "wall of glass", they are VERY HEAVY! but it is tempered glass and could easily work well for that use!. I have seen many cataogs with "kits" to build your own shed- some with detailed drawings that may help to design-
Here's hopng you can build the garden shed of your dreams!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 1:03PM
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jel48(Z4 Michigan)

I just have an inexpensive metal shed. If I had it to do over again, I would build a good one. Ours has a few leaks, and the sliding doors aren't working well (not that sliding doors don't work - Julie's sliding door idea is great - it's just that these cheapo sliding doors don't work well in winter and don't hold up well).

Mine does look charming though :-) The things that I think made the whole difference in the way it looks are the little kind of patio area in front (made using a number of square patio pavers), a whimsical sign over the door (ours says "Guesthouse", and the honeysuckle growing on either side of the door. The patio area also makes a nice place to set potted plants.

I do have storage for all the garden tools, plus lawn mowers (in the winter) and a snow blower (in the summer), shelving, and a table. During the season each is in use, we keep eitehr the lawn mowers or the snow blower in the garage for easy access without having to go around to the back yard to get them. This also gives us a little spare floor space in the shed.

If I could add a few things, the two most useful I can think of would be electricity (I have to use a flashlight when it's dark) and water. I would love to have a place to wash hands, tools, etc. A sink on the outside would work really well.

I'd also make sure the height is adequate and that you have a door tall enough to walk through without stooping. Even though I KNOW our door is not very tall, I still manage to bump my head at least a couple of times a week!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 1:34PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Yes, those sliding doors on the prefab metal sheds are just inherently flawed.

The height consideration on any shed is I think the most important. If it were me, I would never think of building a barn roof style, unless you were going to have a loft. High enough side walls to hang your long handle implements is a must. I don't know how much water a small shed roof would collect, but you could think about a rain barrel and use it as gray water for washing pots or your hands.

And maybe, just maybe, would you be interested in a green roof? You'd have to build for more roof weight then. Cooler in the summer, warmer in the winter!

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 5:19PM
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julie_mn(z4 MN Henn)

oh oh - I know about the electricity thing- I have one of those round push on light thingies!! It is a newer version with flourescent bulbs and gives a ghostly blue-ish light! It is very spooky looking for the neighbors!
Hmmmm- Rick- Would a green roof work for an above ground non heated structure in MN? I think you could plant it with annuals just fine- but what zone hardieness would you need for perennials? I would think even 2' of soil would freeze solid sitting in the sky like that...... I know of someone who did that to his garage transformed to a work-shop that he heated with passive solar and wood stove on the really cold gloomy days. He just had grass type stuff up there as I remember.... and big dreams about tomatoes.
I do like the idea of vines hanging down the shed- rather than climbing up it- you can have more"floor space" around it then.....

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 6:50PM
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cleocrafta(z4 MN)

Thanks to all for some wonderfull ideas! I hadn't thought about a sink for wash up, sure want to work that in. We happen to have an extra patio door too -great suggestion.
Happy Holidays to all & may Mother Nature smile upon us all in 2006, Cleo

    Bookmark   December 11, 2005 at 8:51PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

Actually, the ground freezes solid anyway, even under your feet. But it certainly must be true that it would get colder up on the rooftop where reindeer might pause. Still, I do have some friends that have a stand alone, unheated shed green roof (complete with a wooden billy goat) where they grow a variety of flowering materials, including grasses. I could be wrong here, but as far as I know, it is mostly perennials too.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 5:25PM
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leftwood(z4a MN)

P.S. Julie, that was very nice of you to Woo-Whoo down in Wisconsin.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 5:34PM
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cleo, Try the cottage garden forum. They have lots of cottage garden sheds, arbors, gates, fences, etc. and are always more than willing to help. Be sure to ask them to show you pictures and know that that site also has a gallery you click to enter at the top under the forum pic.
See you there.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2005 at 3:59PM
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carmellia(z 4 Minn)

I can tell you one thing I found I liked a lot in a shed I used to have. It had a corrugated roof and several of those corrugated panels were of the clear (or almost clear) variety. That natural light was wonderful. I had daylight almost as long in the shed as I did outdoors. Carmellia

    Bookmark   December 28, 2005 at 10:21AM
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