How to Organize a New Shed – Storage & Organization Tips

How to organize a new shed
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To get the maximum use out of your new storage shed, you should ideally plan the interior layout before you start to fill it. Without some planning, it is easy to land up with a shed full to the brim of everything you want to keep out of the way and no easy way of accessing some of it.

Not without emptying half the contents, that is!

A bit of organization is needed!

Why Organize Your Shed?

A well-organized shed will enable you to make optimum use of the space available. This is especially relevant if space or budget considerations force you to buy a smaller storage unit than you might otherwise prefer.

When the shed is operational, you’ll want to retrieve items quickly, instead of hunting around wasting time trying to locate where you put them.

A well-organized shed will also prevent you from going out to buy more supplies because you can’t find something or because you’ve forgotten that you already have some which can quickly happen with an untidy shed.

So where do you start?

Avoid the temptation to jump in and get on with it. It would be best if you had a plan.

Start With a Plan for Your Shed Interior

Whichever way you decide to use your shed, it is best to plan for it at the outset. Planning for all possible future uses of the shed reduces the risk of running out of space at a later date and being disappointed.

The best way to organize your shed will generally depend on how you want to use it. So grab yourself a pen and paper or fire up that design app on your tablet, ask yourself a few questions and make a few notes.

How you organize your new shed will depend on four factors:

  • The type of shed you have - be it made of wood, metal or plastic.
  • How much space you will have in your new shed.
  • What you intend to store in the shed.
  • Whether or not you plan to have a work bench.

Type of Shed to Organize

Lifetime 60079 15x 8 feet dual entry plastic shed. 

Best Barns Northwood 10 x 10 feet wood shed kit.

Arrow Woodridge 8 x 6 feet metal shed.

I’ll say right at the outset that wooden sheds are by far the easiest to customize. Wood is an easy medium to work with and having a shed structure made of wood means any competent DIY-er can build shelves and worktops into the shed itself.

Easy customization is not the case with metal and plastic sheds. These are made with strong structures that are not designed to have the walls drilled into.

Plastic sheds use a kind of rigid honeycomb construction to create strength, and metal sheds are built of thin metal sheets which together make for a strong shell. In both cases, the walls are not designed to carry much extra weight.

Consequently, to fit out a metal or plastic shed and make the most of the available space, you will need to organize mainly with free-standing units.

Manufacturers of plastic and steel sheds often make shelving and other storage accessories specifically for their shed models. These can be expensive for what they are and may not make maximum use of the available space, but they are quick to install and could be right for you.

With the appropriate DIY skills, you could create a wooden framework for shelf supports inside a shed. Either that or use pre-built and metal alternatives.

How Much Space Will you Have?

You should calculate the square footage of the shed floor area. Also, the approximate cubic capacity of the interior so you can sketch out some ideas.

What Will You Store in Your Shed?

Knowing all that you want to store in your shed is key to organizing it well. You'll have large and small items, things you regularly access, and those you only use occasionally.

Make a list of everything you want to keep. This could include:

  • Hand tools and long-handled garden tools
  • Gardening supplies
  • Sit-on or push lawn-mower
  • Power tools
  • Decorating tools
  • Automotive tools
  • DIY tools
  • Fixings and DIY sundries
  • Patio furniture & cushions
  • Pool supplies
  • Kids garden toys
  • DIY and gardening sundries
  • Lumber supplies
  • Hoses, ropes, and cables
  • Telescoping or folding ladders

This list is not definitive but gives some idea of what could be stored.

Do You Want a Work Bench?

There are many gardening and DIY tasks that you can undertake when you have a worktop to start a project on, and it is advantageous to have a workbench for those occasions when poor weather forces you to work indoors.

It doesn’t need to be of the pro-shop standard unless you want it to, but having a work surface to complete small tasks, maintenance, and repairs can be a real bonus, even if it’s not much more than an extra-wide shelf.

Olympia Tools 48-Inch Hardwood Workbench 330lbs Weight Capacity, 88-128-917

Hardwood workbench

Olympia Tools Multi-Purpose Workbench With Light, 82-802,Black

Metal frame work bench.

You can have either:

  • A work bench designed to stay in the shed by virtue of being built into the shed structure - as with a wooden shed.
  • An assembled freestanding workbench that stays in the shed but is potentially removable if the door opening is wide enough.
  • A portable, folding take-anywhere workbench that you can use outside or in the shed if you have enough floor space to work with it.

The choice is yours, but ideally you need to decide the workbench area before fitting out the rest of the shed.

Shed Organization Tips

Wherever the contents of your new shed are coming from – an older shed perhaps, from the garage or patio, the attic, or under the stairs – make sure everything is clean and dry before storing it in your new storage building.

  • When you start your shed planning, prioritize the contents in terms of access required. It’s best to keep regularly used and large items like a lawnmower or bikes near the door.
  • Categorize everything so you can store related items together. Take tools, for example. These can be for decorating, DIY, gardening, or automotive use. Try to keep things in the same category together.
  • Decide the position of a workbench at the outset. You will need an adequate amount of room to work on and around it. Plan the shelving and workbench areas before everything else.
  • Make maximum use of the space along the walls and in the roof void.
  • When filling the shelves, place your most regularly used items between eye and hip level, the heaviest items at the bottom, and the least used on the top shelves.
  • If the shed door opens rather than slides, you may be able to use the inside of the door for storing some items such as ropes or cabling.
  • Don't pack contents too tightly together. You need air to circulate freely in the shed to avoid moisture retention.
  • Keep the floor as clear as possible, especially if you need to move around a lot in the shed. Loose items on the floor can restrict access.

Accessories to Organize Your Shed

There are many ways you can organize your shed. Shelves, racks, pegboards, hooks, special storage containers - you can use them all to keep your shed tidy and well organized.

If you are keeping to a budget, you can repurpose old solid wood furniture items to provide drawer space and shelving. You could recycle some plastic food packaging into helpful storage containers for smaller items such as screws and nails.

Alternatively, there is a wide range of commercial shed accessories that you can use to keep the contents of your shed in place. They make organizing things and finding them easy and quick.

Shelves

These can be built-in where appropriate or free-standing. Suitable for storing almost anything.


Shelf unit with open wire shelves.

Metal shelving with HDF shelves

Pegboards

You can organize your hand tools tidily on a wall, especially over a workbench, using the flexible layouts provided by pegboard. Pegboards are made from stainless or galvanized steel, high-density fiberboard (HDF), or plastic panels.

Pegboard wall assembly used with mini storage tubs, wire hangers and shelving.

Your pegboard storage options are made easy with a comprehensive range of fittings.

Storage Bins

Storage bins are available as stackable types or wall mounted and can accomodate many different things you will store in a shed. Ideal for bulkier hardware.

Large stackable tubs enable you to keep a range of related items together in one place, such as an electric sander  with abrasive sheets, or a lawnmower maintenance box, or a range of wood stain tins.

Small storage bins are ideal for organizing different sizes of small items such as: fixings, hardware, spare parts, seed packets & craft items.

Tool Boxes and Organizers

It is helpful to grab a bag with all our most commonly used tools to start a task. It makes life a lot easier than collecting together all the tools that you might need every time a DIY or gardening job crops up.

Similarly, storing different sizes of fixings in a portable organizer can save a lot of time.

Tool Organizer based on a 5 gallon bucket.

Stanley Fatmax Organizer - great for drill bits, wood router bits & cutters, screws and fixings.

Clear Plastic Containers

Clear screw-top or snap-lid containers are ideal for small items like nails and fixings, as you can quickly identify the contents and sizes. Many kitchen food containers are ideal for this purpose. They are available in many sizes.

Hooks & Racks

Great for storing ladders, bicycles, patio furniture and long handled tools.

Straps and Supports

Keep coiled items tidy. You can store extension cords, ropes, and hoses tidily on shed walls, inside doors, at the side of shelf units with a special strap.

Easy Wrap & Carry Storage Strap. Ideal for storing and moving garden or pool hose, cabling, cords and ropes.

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Hook-ended Bungee Cords. Useful for keeping heavy items in place in shed or garage.

Get to It. Time to Get Organized!

Apart from the time-saving advantages of organizing your new shed correctly, it can be a lot of fun and rather satisfying putting your mark on how your shed interior looks.

Keep it clean and tidy as you go along, clear away spillages, dry wet items before storing them, and your shed interior will keep uncluttered and serve you well for a long time.

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