Disguising an ugly garden shed

Ugly Garden Sheds – 5 rules to making your garden shed less ugly!

Garden sheds, man-caves or her-hideaways are a ubiquitous part of British garden culture.

They can be beautiful, quirky, miniature palaces but more often than not they are a dull grey or browny red large shabby looking eyesores at the bottom of the garden.

Modern housing estates also have much smaller gardens these days, which means that now the average 8x6ft shed takes up even more room than it used to.  We do have a love affair for the humble garden shed, but all too often let them become an ugly garden feature – but it doesn’t have to be that way at all.

Rule 1 – Don’t just plonk the shed at the bottom of the garden.

The first problem with sheds is where they have been put. Most, if not all sheds are located at the end of the garden. The theory being, if they are further away from the house, they must be less noticeable!


There are two reasons why the shed is still large and very noticeable

1 – The path usually leads straight to the shed – which makes you notice the shed more AND

2 – It’s just too large a shape to hide in a small garden…..

because, there is nothing that grabs your attention more than the shed does

If you have a shed in the garden, you need to have a very prominent ‘look at me instead’ part of the garden, that shouts louder and demands your attention. The shed hasn’t disappeared or become less noticeable, it’s just it’s been superseded by something else – which is nicer to look at.

We have loads of ‘look at me instead’ border designs to choose from – try Fountains & Fluff ; Towers of Feathers; Big & Red & Hot or Sunset Boulevard

Rule 2 – If a path leads only to a shed – it makes the shed more noticeable

Now you may be thinking, that having a path to the shed is important, and indeed it is – but have something else the path arrives at first. Which is what you will then notice more than the shed. In fact the path can draw your eye away from the shed to a nicer part of the garden, and then lead to the shed after. Its all about thinking a little outside the box.

Rule 3 – If you want to ‘hide’ the shed it has to become part of the garden and not built in the garden.

So what am I talking about, well the garden shed is most likely one of the largest structures in your garden, so you can’t just hide it, grow something over it or paint it a different colour and hope it will magically transform into an attractive feature.

The key to hiding it is to design it in, think about how you will use the garden and where the shed can be put so you can use both the shed and the garden as you want to.

So take this small back garden, the shed is pretty large in comparison to the size of the garden, but that shed is regularly used and is an important storage space.

So what do you do. First is to consider how you want to use the garden, and in this case, the part of the garden that gets the last rays of sunshine at the end of the day is right where the shed is placed. You can’t use the garden because the shed has dictated how you can use the garden. So where can the shed go?

Well, in this case, the owner will walk to the end of the garden to sit out, if the shed was moved halfway down the garden, you would walk past it, but it could be partially hidden by plants.

Now, the shed become part of the design of the garden. In this instance the owner preferred the top image, with the hour glass shape. Disguising it even further is easier with plants and a mirrored wall.

Having a ‘look a me’ tree at the bottom of the garden also makes you look there, rather than notice the shed.

Rule 4 – Make a ‘look at me instead’ part of the garden.

In the top picture, the gardens are as yet, unplanted, consequently the shed dominates the view because let’s face it – it is the only view. The problem is how to compete and beat the view of the shed. The key to this is understanding how humans actually see, because you can use this to your advantage. One of the most effective methods is to create something that moves.

Use plants that dance in a breeze such as grasses and other tall willowy plants. Think tall, soft, upright and not dense.

Secondly attract things that move as you will watch these too, as such only use plants that are attractive to bees, butterflies moths and other insects.

Don’t forget the birds too – if you watch the birds flying in an out, you will not be staring at the shed!

Rule 5 – Make the Shed more Interesting

Sheds can be quirky, they are allowed to reflect the personality of the owner, so do you want yours to say ‘rather unimaginative person’ or would you prefer it ‘said’ something else about you?


As long as what you attach to the shed has a theme of some sort, your shed will start to look cool.

So pick a colour theme, or as in this case bird-boxes (there must be a collective noun for a collection of these – how about a Flutter of Bird Boxes?).

Good garden design is all about making something work for you and your garden. It doesn’t need to be ridiculously expensive nor does it have to involve huge amounts of hard landscaping or digging – all you need is imagination.

Can we help? We’re very good at coming up with great ideas for hiding ugly sheds…all we need to get started is a photo! 

See also:

Creating a Low Maintenance Garden…

Part 1

Part 2





How to Design a Garden if:….

It’s all weeds

It’s a city garden

The garden is really narrow

Small! – you couldn’t even ‘swing a cat’

I still have no idea where to begin

I would like the garden to be less boring!

Mini Makeovers

More Design Tips

Selling your Home? – make sure the garden helps

BEE Friendly Gardening

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