Tool storage: Garage vs. shed

mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)May 1, 2008

I'm in the process of organizing the garage and am considering purchasing an outside storage cabinet and storing all the gardening stuff in that (tools, empty pots, stakes/hoops, fertilizer etc.) because I only have a 2-car garage and the clutter is driving me crazy and makes it crowded.

Anyway, I'm wondering about the convenience factor. Those of you who store stuff in the shed - are there any items you still keep in the garage for easy/quick access?

Any tips for shed organization or brands of storage units? (Lowe's has Suncast and Rubbermaid big stand-alone units for about $250 - any rants/raves for these brands?)

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I visited a friend in CA and was amazed at how uncluttered his garage was so it took some hints came home and bought some tall cabinets, kitchen like, shelves, and hooks and organized my garage and now I can find things. I bought a Troy Bilt earlier and hoped it would fit in the garage along with my vehicle, moved things around and whallah every is neat and dandy. I just fold the handles of the mower when stored.

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    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 9:55AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

yeah .. buy a hosue with a 30 x 40 polebarn ... a giant shed ...

and guess what ...

the clutter increased exponentially ... lol

THERE IS NO CURE.. period ....

and.. there was a wooden club house .... which would be perfect for tools.. but i gave it to the kids.... and they can barely walk into it thru their clutter ... its about 8 x 14 ... with a loft ...

my only suggestion .. just like building a patio ... get it twice as big as you think you need ... trust me.. it will be filled before you know it ...

i would prefer wood.. yeah .... it will rot in 10 or 20 years .... but you are a gardener... you should prefer the natural over the plastic .... to me .. its a zen thing ... wood looks so much better in the yard .... thank god the kids are aging beyond all the plastic climby things that used to clutter my yard ... in the abhorrent colors ... yuck .. but i digress ...


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    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 10:01AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Ah, Ken - Clutter drives me BATTY!!! My family laughs at me because about once a year (and sometimes more) I go on a rampage and get rid of all kinds of stuff. My rule of thumb: If I don't use it at least once a year, I don't need it and OUT IT GOES.

Purple Heart has the truck coming by tomorrow morning, I've got boxes of stuff (perfectly good stuff, too - like coffee service for 8, a leather laptop case, etc.) to put out on the porch tonight.

My husband is the one who won't throw anything out - I tease and tell him he's just like a woman, can't get rid of anything....then when he's not around I chuck the cr*p anyway (and he's never missed a darn thing, either!). Comes from growing up with a mom who was a pack rat - I just can't stand all that stuff around, makes life too stressful.

So, no - the shed won't get cluttered. My problem is I have a habit of just chucking tools (and stakes and pots) in the corner of the garage instead of neatly hanging them on the racks; hence, the garage is always a mess. So I figure if I just throw it all in the shed at least my *garage* won't be such a mess LOL!

    Bookmark   May 1, 2008 at 2:55PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

Location of either - garage or shed - is probably going to be the determining factor as to what works best in my limited experience. I have neither - garage or shed - but when I've done work at my parents house where my Dad kept all the tools in a shed way-at-the-far-corner of the property, I found it so annoying having to tromp, tromp,tromp across the lawn to get what I needed. The garage would have been a much more centrally located area for everything.

Depending on your situation, you may want to do a combo of the two: put the things you use the most in the most convenient location and the stuff you use less in the shed - or however that works for you.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 6:55AM
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mad_gallica(zone 5 - eastern New York)

Location is definitely an issue. Depending on when you use things, light can also be an issue. Our first house had a tiny garage and a unelectrified shed. I don't know how many times I had to just shove things into the shed because it was dusk and I couldn't see a thing in there. Another potential problem is access when there is snow on the ground.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:41AM
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prairiemoon2 z6 MA

We donâÂÂt have a shed and IâÂÂve thought about getting one multiple times. We do have a small one car garage that does have enough space to put shelves and a workbench. I hate clutter too, but I have lowered my expectations and adapted to less than perfect, for various reasons. (g)

We cleaned out the garage and organized it entirely last summer and I took photos so I would remember what it looked like. Sure enough, 6 months later, it was back to being a mess. IâÂÂm sure we could purchase more cabinets to make it easier to organize and keep it that way, but really I think it is our habits that would have to change. Actually, though, the garage is looking fairly organized right now. Even though it became messy again very quickly, I think that last time we organized, made clean up easier and faster and we didnâÂÂt have a big job at the close of the gardening season this year.

Butâ¦the shed question. We have a small property, so fitting in a shed would create more problems than it would solve and that is the reason I didnâÂÂt do it. IâÂÂd rather increase the size of our vegetable garden. If I had a larger property, I would actually love to have a separate area to put all my gardening paraphernalia. But, as Kevin points out, convenient location to where you need your most used tools is a big consideration. I gave a lot of thought to what I really needed and I concluded that I use only a few common tools every day. A trowel, a kneeling pad, a pair of garden shears & pruners, a 5 gallon bucket and my gardening gloves. The shears & pruners are in a draw in the kitchen and the gloves I keep in a basket near the back door and they go out the door with me and the 5 gallon bucket with the trowel in it is left in the garden, day in and day out. I bought a stainless steel trowel, 6 years ago and havenâÂÂt had to replace it yet. When I need something else, on a small property, a trip to the garage is quick and itâÂÂs a nice break from kneeling. (g) But I can see mxk3, that your circumstances and needs can be very different than mine. And IâÂÂve never had a shed, so I have no experience with that to share.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:46AM
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Campanula UK Z8

I have a shed and a garage (although we keep the truck outside). As well as location, size and sturdiness are huge considerations. My shed is 6x8 feet and had a tiny 2foot doorway - most annoying since the hose and lawnmower would not go through it. I had to turn it into a double door. Also, at this time of year, there will always be a couple of sheds which are lying on their sides having failed to remain upright in the east anglian winds...and plastic ones are the worst offenders, not only falling over but flying off across several plots. You will need to be able to stand up and turn about in the shed - those low ones which double as seats are a bit hopeless because everything gets thrown in and jumbled......however, Ken speaks a universal truth - clutter will always expand to fill the allocated space.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 11:33AM
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Ken, you are so right. No matter how big you build it, your 'stuff' will eventually fill it. Our house out here at the farm has a kitchen with three times the cabinet space I have ever had. It took us one year to fill all of those cabinets.

I now have a garden shed which is strictly for gardening stuff. I find every year I have to toss lots of pots and saved items (that I surely will use some day ---) just to keep it in order so I can find things.

Our garage is for cars and my husbands tool toys ---- every fall we have to do a major cleanup so there is room for the cars.

So, there will never be enough space. Stuff will always fill the void.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 4:02PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

No, Ken does not speak a universal truth about "stuff". It does not magically appear out of the mist. Throw the sh*t out if you don't use it! Or donate it. Or freecycle it. Or whatever - just get rid of it!

I'm sure some of you will say to me, "Just put the stuff back in it's place when you're done and you won't have clutter!" LOL! So, yea, we've all got our issues - mine isn't stuff, it's laziness in putting things back in place.

I never got the shed. The garage is still cluttered. Pots everywhere, stakes everywhere. Sigh. Gotta straighten out the mess, I know. But hey - the stuff got thrown in there willy-nilly because I actually *use* the stuff and had to bring in from outside. I had a 2-1/2 car garage at my other house - what a difference that extra 1/2 makes!

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 5:41PM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I wasn't going to say anything about "stuff", but as long as you brought it up again, I have to loudly agree it isn't just a fact of life, it's a choice - maybe unconscious, but never-the-less a choice.

I suffer from that disease totally opposite of what some people call hoarding (don't get me wrong, I'm not calling anyone out here a hoarder. Anyway, I can't stand having too much stuff - especially stuff I don't use, probably won't use or just stuff waiting around until I give it a purpose. It goes and that makes me happy.


    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 7:19PM
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Campanula UK Z8

ho ho - this 'stuff' isn't mine! It belongs to numerous offspring, their mates and partners....and accumulates at every point in their lives which necessitates some sort of change. I would have no problem in simply piling it into the truck and taking the lot to the tip.....but the tearful confrontations and shouty accusations when so-and-so's year 7 school report, ancient hockey boots and 'favourite' winter coat is no longer sitting (along with the 30 other winter coats) in the hall, are more than I can bear.
Not that I am totally innocent of hoarding - this is a bit of a social disease in the UK where people have long memories of wartime deprivation (so those bits of string and elastic bands will come in useful).
I am often amused by the completely random nature of freecycle - who would cross town for several opened packets of breakfast cereal......or (empty) cardboard boxes.......or ancient printer parts.......or (my favourite) 24 volumes of sheep breeders year books:1953-1977.

    Bookmark   January 14, 2014 at 7:18AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5


having moved from a 1.5 car.. to 3 car and tiny barn/shed ...

to a house with a 2.5 car garage.. and 30 x40 foot pole barn ...

all i can tell you.. is that your crap ... there really isnt any better word for it... accumulates and exceeds.. whatever space you have ... i think its one of old murphys laws ....

sure.. get more space.. and all you will end up with.. is more clutter.. and the same problem ...

go figure.. lol


    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 9:05AM
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jan_on zone 5b

Our three vehicles sit in the driveway because our double garage is filled with furniture etc. belonging to our adult boomerang child, and my husband's utility trailer filled with tools. To be fair the lawn mower and snow blower do fit in there as well, but to keep my sanity I had a garden shed built to house my 'toys'. For me the solution was to have something that I find attractive and that contributes interest to the back yard. (And yes, Ken, it is too small!) It has a small front porch and window boxes that sport seasonal greenery.

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 10:49AM
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christinmk z5b eastern WA

-Jan, I just had to comment to tell you how awesome your shed and garden is! Loves it...

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:12PM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

I love your shed, Jan! It blends beautifully with the surroundings and is quite picturesque :0)

    Bookmark   January 15, 2014 at 1:52PM
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jan_on zone 5b

Thanks christen and mxk3 - it sure is prettier than our garage lol! And it had a wonderful pine scent for the first year or so - sadly that faded.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2014 at 7:53PM
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Thyme2dig NH Zone 5

I have 3 areas to store garden stuff, depending on what it is. Our garage is out since that was taken over for a model railroad. We had a shed at our old house and quickly learned it should have been twice as big, so built a 12 x 16 shed where we are now. This is great, but fills up quickly with lawn tractor, snow blower, and other larger equipment, although I do store 5 gallon pails, garden ornaments/statues and other larger garden items in there.

Then I have a much smaller utility shed where I keep most tools like shovels, spade, fork, rakes, and stakes. This has worked out so well to quickly throw larger tools in at the end of the day and it's sort of "in" the garden with easy access. Our shed is on the other side of the property so my laziness would get the best of me and tools would be laying all over the yard or in a neat pile somewhere as opposed to put away.

We also recently got a potting bench that I keep on my front porch. I don't use it for potting but rather store all of my small tools in it. Pruners, loppers, zip ties, twine, small stakes, wasp spray, etc.....great easy access and the small tools never get "lost" in a smaller space so they're easy to find.

While this pic was really of a garden bench we were restoring, in the background you can see the potting bench. Guess I've never taken a pic specifically of it.

Before I got the potting bench I used to keep a 2x2 Rubbermaid bin in my hall closet. I'd throw in all my small tools, garden shoes, etc.

The thing that helped me most with garden tool organization was having storage spaces that "fit" the tools I was storing as well as proximity in the garden, to the house, etc.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 10:36AM
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aachenelf z5 Mpls

I'm a HUGE fan of the Rubbermaid storage containers. I keep one outside all summer with all the small stuff I need on a daily basis. 99% of the time, that small stuff is all I really need to do what I need to do. I keep it in an inconspicuous place in my back yard, so it's never more than a few feet of where I'm at. If I'm working in the front yard, it's easy to cart over there.


    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 11:21AM
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mxk3(Zone 6 SE MI)

Potting bench is a good idea for storage of small items.

I tend to store wants/needs in my head for my next house. I don't have room (inside or outside) at this house, but perhaps at the next house.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2014 at 3:11PM
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