How to upcycle a shed + ideas for a low-cost garden

Are you planning on landscaping your garden this summer? Or installing features like a pond or patio? If so, here are my tips for doing it on a budget – with photos of my own attempts at salvaging a shed to give you inspiration for starting work on your own garden…

Hasn’t the weather been, well, surprising this summer? The long sunny days and super-hot weather remind me of childhood summers and I can’t remember the last time we had a run of good weather like we’ve had over the last few weeks. Anyway, all the sunshine has got me thinking about my garden and the things I want to do out there.

Specifically, the warm weather has made me more keen than ever to spend time outside and I’ve come to the realisation that a patio is a priority! I already have a lovely hardwood bench that we got last year so I’ve got somewhere to sit and enjoy the sun, but it’s not much fun sitting on the dusty site of an old veggie patch! What do you think about using pallet wood for decking? Or using old house bricks to create a path? I’ll be making plans for a low-cost patio over the coming weeks so watch this space for ideas.

The hot weather has also got me longing for a water feature. Isn’t it funny how running water or a pond can make you feel cooler just by looking at it?  I’ve been getting ideas online – hurrah for Pinterest! – and have researched the prices of pond supplies like these. I think it would be lovely to include water in the garden to attract wildlife and give birds somewhere to drink and wash. There’s nothing cuter than seeing a blue tit flapping in a bird bath, is there?! By the way, my husband hobbled toegther this bird table above from leftover wood and pallets in about 20 minutes! I shared a step-by-step guide for making this simple eco-pond below last year, but I think I’ll go for something a little bigger in my garden. 

In the meantime, we’ve started the garden makeover process with a shed. I don’t mean we’ve bought a shed – oh no. Would I really spend money on something if I didn’t have to?? Our lovely 6ft x 8ft shed was previously a 12ft x 8ft shed and we’ve given it a new lease of life with a makeover – let me explain..!

The shed was bought over 25 years ago by my husband’s parents. It lived in their garden for about 15 years before they decided to upgrade. So we rescued the shed – which still had plenty of life in it – and moved it to the garden of our rented home. After we moved away to uni, the shed went to my brother-in-law’s garden and was used until about 4 weeks ago.

That’s when my brother-in-law moved into his new home and the shed’s future looked uncertain. In fact, its time was up. It wasn’t going to be moved to the new garden, and was heading for the bonfire. Until we stepped in, that is! We were in desperate need of a shed in our garden and even though it was, by now, an ancient shed, why wouldn’t we try to save it?

To be honest, parts of the shed were rotten, and the windows had seen better days. All around the base of the shed had got damp so was crumbling away. But would we let that stop us? No way! We actually needed a smaller shed anyway, so we rejigged the panels and removed the windows to turn the 12ft x 8ft shed into a 6ft x 8ft shed, which fits neatly beside our path. 

To tackle the rotten wood around the bottom, we simply removed one plank from the base of all the sides, which lowered the height by about 6 inches. This actually made it feel less imposing in the garden and it’s still plenty tall enough for my minimal height! After putting the slightly ‘customised’ panels together, we gave the whole shed a coat of black garden paint – another freebie as my in-laws had some left over from previously painting the shed.

The final touch was to add a tiled felt roof (more leftovers from previous projects) and hubby cut a new front and back trim for the apex from fencing wood that had been left over from our fence installation last year. The only new addition to the shed was the string of amber solar lights from Waltons that I added to the front and sides.

It’s now a super-cute shed that fits in the available space perfectly and we’ve given it a new lease of life. Who knows how many more years it’ll live on in our garden? The roof is watertight, the floor is sturdy and the doors close tightly so why wouldn’t it survive another few years? I’m so pleased that we could save it from the bonfire and get some much-needed extra storage space.

Let me know if you too have done any thrifty upcycling in your garden and please share your tips for updating garden buildings and furniture in the comments below.



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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in lifestyle promotion studies. She loves to 'get the look for less' so regularly shares thrifty fashion posts, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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