Tidy shed gives you more time in garden

  • By Margaret Roach / Martha Stewart Living Magazine
  • Wednesday, April 6, 2005 9:00pm
  • Life

Now is the perfect time to do some spring-cleaning in your garden toolshed. Start by assessing its contents and getting rid of any supplies you don’t need. Then you can organize what’s left.

Whether your shed is a freestanding one or simply a corner of the garage, there are a number of ways to store tools and equipment so that these items are easy to find and less likely to be damaged. Try the ideas that follow, and you’ll be able to spend less time digging around the shed and more time digging in the garden.


Keep everyday items on easy-to-reach shelves and lesser-used ones on the top ledges. Devote shelves or parts of shelves to similar items. For instance, one spot for watering cans and another for stacks of pots.

Maximize space by installing hooks high above the top shelf. The hooks can be used to hold long-handled gardening tools horizontally, which is a great way to keep them from getting underfoot.

Covered storage box with divider

Use a storage box with a lid to keep big bags of potting soil, fertilizer and charcoal protected and out of sight. Start with a store-bought wooden box with a fitted lid. Insert a wooden divider cut 1/8-inch smaller than the depth and width of the box. This divider will create two compartments and also help keep the bags upright.

If your box lid doesn’t have a handle, add one for convenience. Store the box under shelves.

Peg tool hanger

For easy access, hang small tools (such as trowels, hand cultivators and pruners) from pegs.

1. Drill 1/4-inch holes (one for each tool) into the shed door’s crosspiece or into a 1-by-6 piece of wood attached to a wall.

2. Cover the bottom half of 1/4-inch pegs (use one for each hole) with wood glue, and insert. Let the glue set before hanging up items.

3. To hang a tool that has a handle but no strap, install two pegs: Drill two holes, spaced just far enough apart to accommodate the thickness of the tool’s handle, and then proceed with glue and pegs.

Clamps and hooks

Use the inside of a toolshed door as additional storage space. One way to do this is to mount metal spring clamps and rubber-coated utility hooks to the crosspiece inside the door. (If you don’t have a crosspiece, attach a 1-by-6 to the door with 1 1/2-inch wood screws.)

Use the hooks and clamps to hold the tools you reach for frequently, such as a rake, a broom and a dustpan.

Protective rack for sharp tools

Store saws, shears and other sharp tools safely with a custom-made rack attached either to the inside of your toolshed’s door or to a wall.

1. Cut two 1-by-6 pieces of wood to 1/2 inch less than the width of the inside door (or the wall on which you want to hang the rack).

2. Cut five 2-inch strips from another 1-by-6. Use a jigsaw to round off one short end of each of the five pieces. (This will allow the tools to slide in and out of the rack easily.) Place these strips, rounded ends aligned, on one of the two 1-by-6s, spacing them to accommodate tools. Attach each strip to the 1-by-6 with two 1-inch wood screws.

3. Place both 1-by-6 boards side by side, and mark the plain board where it aligns with the center of each spacer on the other board. Use a T-square to draw a line lengthwise down the middle of the plain board.

4. Screw the board with the spacers to the door (rounded edges up). Place the other board, marked side out, over it, and install wood screws along the line to join the boards at the spacers. Insert inverted tools into rack between spacers.

Garden-stake holder

A handy tube affixed to the toolshed door or wall will keep garden stakes in order.

1. Have a 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe cut a bit shorter than your garden stakes.

2. Apply PVC cement to the inside of a PVC cap; attach the cap to one end of the pipe. Let dry until set, about 30 minutes.

3. Position the pipe, cap side down, against crosspiece (or a 1-by-6 piece of wood attached to the wall) so that the bottom overhangs by an inch. Position two metal conduit straps over the lower portion of the pipe so that one strap meets the top of the crosspiece and the other one meets the bottom.

Drill pilot holes into the crosspiece with a 5/64-inch bit, and screw the mounts into place with 1-inch wood screws.

Send questions to Living, care of The New York Times Syndication Sales Corp., 609 Greenwich St., 6th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10014-3610. E-mail living@ nytimes.com.


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