Allotment sheds are part of the romance of allotmenting. They are somewhere to retreat to, a personal space, a feature to decorate and, perhaps, put up a welcoming sign.
But what are the best types of allotment sheds? Their primary function is to store tools, but if money is an issue, you may want to see my post on the best plastic storage sheds.
Allotment sheds comes in all shapes and sizes. The two main types are defined by their roof shape:
- Apex sheds
These have a triangular based roof shape, as in the picture above. The door is often at the side of the shed.
- Pent sheds
The roof on pent sheds is made of one panel that typical slopes from the front of the shed to the back. Doors are commonly at the front of the shed where the roof is highest.
Both designs have their advantages. Apex sheds are often larger – the roof design is inherently stronger – and these sheds may have a large double door which is convenient for access and also to allow light in. Pent sheds are ideal for placing a work bench along the front side under the window.
You may also want to consider ‘potting sheds’ that have a particular large forward facing front window with an interior shelf designed for germinating and growing on seedlings.
Features of Allotment Sheds
Listed below is a summary of the main features to look for in an allotment sheds:
- The way the shed is constructed
Feather edge (overlap) sheds have wooden panels that overlap each other. This is a classic shed design, but is often not as strong as shiplap sheds where the panels slot together using tongue and groove joints (as in laminate flooring). There is often a corresponding difference in price, and shiplag sheds often enjoy a longer guarantee of quality.
- The size of the doors
Double doors are more convenient that single doors.
- The quality of the wood
Nearly all wooden sheds will need additional protection with the application of wood preservation products, typically applied each year in good summer weather.
- The size of the shed
On an allotment an 8ft by 6ft shed is usually sufficient.
Buying Considerations for Allotment Sheds
How secure is your allotment? Many allotmenters elect to leave their shed door unlocked so that if thieves come along they will not damage the shed in the process of stealing. However, if you intend to store valuable items in your shed this may not be the best option! You may want to consider a shed with a strong single door and door frame in this instance.
If your intention is to pot on your seedlings you may want your shed to have an easterly or southerly aspect.
- Accessorising your shed
An investment in an allotment shed opens up other helpful possibilities. If you include guttering on your shed you have an opportunity to install water butts for rainwater harvesting. You could also consider a cold frame in a sunny sheltered position on one side of the shed.
- Shed Base
A good shed base is really important for the long term preservation of your shed. A wooden shed standing on wet ground will warp and rot – it may also invalidate any lifetime guarantee that came with your shed. The quick answer is that your shed should stand off the ground and allow air to circulate underneath it to avoid damp problems.
- Wood source
You may also want to consider purchasing sheds made with wood from responsibly sourced and sustainable forests, such as those that have received FSC endorsement.
See options for where to buy sheds.
Deciding on a Shed Base
A wooden garden or allotment shed needs to stand on a base to preserve its life, otherwise there is risk or warping and rotting. The strongest and most durable shed base is a concrete slab, see our page on how to make a concrete shed base for more details.
The base needs to be strong and stable, as any movement of the shed base will have a knock on effect on the stability and strength of the shed itself.
If a concrete shed base is too expensive or not practical for you situation, there are many DIY alternatives. These can cost between £50-100 or more.
Here are some considerations when choosing the best shed base:
- Ideally the shed base should allow air to circulate underneath the shed
- Bases underneath sheds are ideal areas for vermin to live in
(you may want to add protection to avoid vermin getting in)
- There may be restrictions at an allotment on the use of concrete or other building materials that are hard to dispose of
Cheap shed base solutions
Some alternatives to buying a ready made shed base are as follows:
- Standing a shed on paving slabs
This involves marking out an area slighly larger than your shed. You will then need to prepare the earth for it to stand on, flatten it and apply a layer of builders sand. Using a spirit level, you can then lay paving slabs to get a level surface to stand the shed on. You also may wish to add a layer of weed fabric before using the builders sand.
- Standing a shed on concrete blocks
This method involves digging 10cm deep channels to stand the concrete blocks on. The shed then stands upon the rows of concrete blocks.
- Standing a shed on pallets
Ensure the ground is flat before placing the pallets.
- Standing a shed on railway sleepers
If you can access sleepers, these are a very strong base that you can stand your shed on, and they can be used to screw down the shed onto to help prevent wind damage. Ensure the ground is level before placing the sleepers.
- Standing a shed on plastic pavers or grids
The ground will need to be prepared to create a flat surface, and compressed either by a roller or by repeated walking over. The pavers can then be laid on top and filled with soil, sand, or small gravel to create a strong base.