Garden buildings can be used for many different things. They provide a place to get away within the garden, somewhere to escape and do things you need shelter for, but don't want to do for one reason or other in the house. Some people use garden buildings as a workshop or a storage area; others might use them to play loud music or read a book; where you won't disturb other people or be disturbed yourself. Whatever your reason for having a garden building, there are lots of different structures to choose from.
A building or structure is effectively made up of three parts; the walls, the roof and the floor. The first thing to do is decide what you want for each of these. Work through the following checklist to get an idea of your requirements.
1. Types of Walls
Do you want solid or open walls? Should the walls be insulated or not?
Do you want privacy?
Do you want windows or not? Should windows let maximum light in? Should windows be insect proof when opened? Should windows be lockable? How many windows and how much light do you want?
Is it important that people can't see inside from any particular angle?
Do you want to block or enhance views seen from inside, in any particular direction?
Do you want to see the structure from other parts of your property?
Should the structure be lockable? Should the structure be difficult to damage or break into?
Some buildings are put into gardens as "follies". These are extravagant structures built for there appearance rather than for any significant practical purpose. As such, they provide a visual feature in the garden in the same way an attractive statue or tree in full bloom might. If a building is not attractive at all (eg. a cheap metal shed), but is still needed, maybe it should be hidden behind a fence or bed of shrubs.
What will it be used for? Are you going to use it for eating in, housing a spa, playing music, a reading room, or as a work area?
7. The Roof
Consider what is the purpose of the roof? Is it to simply provide a sense of enclosure or shade or should it keep rain out or protect from extreme cold or heat.
The cheapest floor is to just leave it earth, but that can turn into mud in wet weather, particularly if the building has high ground on any side of it, and dust in dry weather.
Gravel will help overcome these problems to some extent, but if you want to keep the inside of a building clean and dry, the floor needs to have some other surfacing material.
When deciding on what material to use it is important to consider drainage, how easy to keep clean, maintenance requirements, appearance and how much it will cost.
Concrete, asphalt or paved floors are ideal inside greenhouses, shade houses, gazebos or pergolas. They're also good in sheds, but if you plan to stand on a floor for long periods (eg. in a workshop), these hard surfaces can be hard on the legs. A timber floor, or at least rugs on the floor will help overcome such problems.
Council regulations may govern the flooring if a building permit is required for construction.
WHAT STRUCTURES DO YOU NEED?
Types: All glass, plastic film tunnel houses, sheet fibreglass or corflute structures.
Uses: Propagating plants in cold conditions, growing sensitive plants in cold climates, protecting plants over winter.
Comments: Ventilation is extremely important, only buy greenhouses with at least two openings (eg. door and roof vents, or large doors at both ends.
Types: Shadecloth, Brush, Timber slats, Lattice
Uses: To provide shade, protection from weather for outdoor living areas. Provide protected conditions for plants that prefer shade, etc (eg; ferns, palms, rainforest plants). Provide intermediate environment for propagated plants (hardening off) between propagation area and outside environment.
Comments: Shade cloth available in various degrees of light transmission (eg: 30%, 50% or 70% shade), and colours Two main widths of 1.8 metres and 3.6 metres.
Types: Galvanised iron sheeting, wood (eg: cedar), synthetic planking or sheets (eg: Hardiplank)
Uses: Storage, work areas, protected area for children's play.
Comments: Council permit maybe required to erect.
Types: Brick, galvanised or treated (eg: colour bond) iron, timber, synthetic sheeting (eg: Hardiplank).
Uses: Protection of vehicles (against weather, theft), storage, work area, extra entertainment or children's play area.
Comments: Can be free standing or adjoin house.
Costs: Vary considerably according to type and location. Generally expensive to very expensive.
Types: Galvanised or treated iron, polycarbonate or acrylic sheets, fibreglass sheeting.
Uses: Overhead protection for vehicles, can be used as semi-protected work or play area.
Comments: Open walled structures, offering less protection than garages or sheds.
Costs: Vary considerably, but generally low to moderate.
Uses: Detached (away from house) building or room, with wide variety of uses (eg: entertainment area, hideaway, reading or music room, children's play area).
Comments: Can be enclosed or open walled.
Types: Detached (eg. Enclosed gazebo). Attached to house (transparent or shaded roof -depending on climate)
Uses: Extends use of garden into colder seasons: affect of bringing the garden indoors. A place to eat, protected from mosquitoes and flies.
A parents retreat, music room, spa room, entertainment area etc. Pool change room. Provide shade and cool location in summer heat.
Comments: Wide selection of designs and applications.