Introduction: Improve the Looks of a Storage Shed

Many storage sheds are built in backyards, but never integrated into the yard itself.  By that I mean most storage sheds tend to look like an afterthought -- sort of like a "big box with a roof" fell from the sky and landed in the yard.

This instructable focuses on how I started with a new storage building and integrated it into the overall landscaping of my backyard.

The materials I used included:

- 2x6 treated lumber for building a 5' x 12' deck
- 2x6 treated lumber for the ramp
- several concrete stepping stones to level the deck
- shutters and window boxes for the storage building
- approximately 20 bags of shredded wood mulch
- steel landscaping edging
- various landscaping plants
- a drip irrigation system
- primer & paint

I didn't list the quantities of lumber & edging that I used, because that will vary depending on how large a person wants the deck, and what they need in terms of landscaping.

Step 1: Prepare and Paint the Shed

In my case I began with a new, unpainted shed.  So, my first task was to caulk all joints -- all except the underside of horizontal joints.  You want to leave the underside of all horizontal joints open to prevent moisture from being trapped.

I also calked each and every nail to prevent moisture from seeping in over time.

Once all calking was dry, I put a coat of primer on the trim, followed by two coats of trim paint.  The siding was pre-primed, so I simply applied two coats of exterior latex on it.

Whether you are starting with a new shed or working with an old one, getting a good, protective layer of paint is critical.  No shed looks good with peeling paint and rotting trim.

Step 2: Build a Ramp

I built the ramp from 2x6 treated lumber.  I didn't make photos of its construction, but basically it consists of three tapered runners, with 2x6 decking.  I made mine the width of the double doors, since I have to back a riding mower into the building.

Step 3: Build the Deck

Adding a small deck to the side of a storage shed really helps to integrate its appearance into the rest of the yard -- helps to keep it from simply looking like it "fell from the sky."

This deck is very simple.  I made a "ladder" frame of 2x6 treated lumber and decked it with the same material.

I built this deck to run the length of the building, and extend 5 feet from the side.  It's not large enough to hold a party on, but it is large enough to visually tie the building into the yard. 

Step 4: Landscape Around the Building

The final step in integrating the building into the yard is landscaping. 

In my case, I made a landscaping bed that extends around three sides of the building (the 4th side has the deck).  The bed is bordered by landscaping timbers at the base of the fence, and heavy metal edging where it joins the rest of the yard.

Before adding the mulch, I used weed preventing fabric on top of the soil, and installed a drip irrigation system.  I topped it all off with 3-4" of mulch.

Next I added various plants.  On the right side I planted some screening shrubs that will eventually get 10-15' tall.  For the next year or so I will prune these shrubs to look like trees, and within a few years these shrubs will screen that side of the building from the late afternoon sun.

I also added two solar lights -- an interior light, and a motion-detecting security light.

In the first photo you may have noticed that I put a sign on my building.  I only did this to make my neighbors wonder what I'm up to!

Step 5: It Looks Like It Belongs!

The goal of this project was to make the storage shed look like it belonged in the yard.

The key to achieving this is to visually break up the lines where the building meets the soil.  How I attempted to accomplish that objective was through the addition of the deck, the ramp, and the landscaping beds.  Each of these tend to visually soften the "attachment" of the shed to the soil.  Instead of looking as if the building just fell from the sky, it looks more like it grew naturally out of the ground.   All of these elements just sort of tie it into the rest of the yard.

Also, although you can't see it in the photos, the paint I selected for the shed matches the trim of the house.  So, the shed is visually tied to both the landscaping and the house.

Integrating a shed into a yard is not a difficult task, and it is a task that lends itself into small steps that can be done over a period of time. 

Step 6: Addendum......

While this has nothing to do with the appearance of the shed, I did add some interior shelving.  You may notice that several of the items stored inside are from instructables I have previously submitted.

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