Build a Shed for Your Communal Garden in 4 Major Steps

Many community gardens decide to set up a communal area for the garden or for individual renters to share. Having a structure gives, at the bare minimum, a place to hang a few tools, store work clothes or take shelter from the rain. It can also be a place to gather with fellow gardeners to discuss the day’s work, to bemoan the weather or to admire how much you all have achieved.

Instead of buying an expensive shed, you can build a strong and waterproof shelter from recycled materials. Most community groups will have a member with some carpentry experience, and that certainly helps, but even if that’s not the case, don’t be put off. Building a structure as a group, and learning by doing so, is a great team-building experience, and you’ll feel so proud every time you use it.

Building a Pallet Shed

Pallet shed diagram - Build a shed for your community garden in 4 stepsWhat you’ll need:

  • A lot of pallets, ideally of the same size
  • Concrete blocks or solid bricks to form the base
  • Long lumber pieces (you may be able to reclaim them): 4×4 lengths for the uprights and 2×4 lengths for the roof frame
  • Board and builder’s felt covering, or sheet roofing metal, for the roof
  • Board for the outside of the shed—cheap plywood, reclaimed tongue-and-groove or other salvaged material can be used; you can even make your own panelling from reclaimed pallets
  • Heavy-duty nuts and bolts to hold the pallets together
Editor’s Note: If you’re new to the world of upcycling pallets, please check out this link, which will give you more information on selecting pallets that are safe for use. For more information, please contact us by email and we can refer you to additional resources.

The Frame

Pallets are relatively small, so you need to create a strong frame to fit them into. You can either build a self-supporting frame that sits on a firm base, or you can concrete or ram your corner posts into the ground. The latter will be stronger, but the posts will eventually rot at the base, so you may need to replace the shed sooner.

The Base

You need to raise the base off the ground to keep it dry. This is easily done by laying concrete blocks or solid bricks at intervals and then laying your pallets on top. If your ground is soft, dig out a hole under each block and fill with rammed-down hardcore, such as stones or broken bricks. Make sure the blocks are perfectly level, or you might have an angled shed.

Walls, Doors and Windows

These are made by pallets stacked on their ends and secured to the frame with heavy-duty bolts. You’ll need one upright in the frame every two or three pallets to keep the shed secure. The beauty of building your own shed is that you can fit it around any windows or doors you’ve been able to reclaim.

The Roof and Panelling

Once the walls are up, secure a roof frame on top. Flat roofs are simpler to construct but usually have a shorter life. Give it at least a 10-degree pitch to ensure good drainage from the roof into your water collection system. The final touch is to cover the exterior walls of the shed with your chosen panelling material. The aim is to make sure the whole structure is waterproof and weather resistant.

If you’d like to learn how to use pallets to build chairs, please visit Convert 2 Recycled Pallets Into A Chair In 5 Steps [Infographic]»Front cover of The Community Gardening Handbook - Build a shed for your community garden in 4 steps

Extract from The Community Gardening Handbook: Plant & Grow Together by Ben Raskin, Published by Leaping Hare Press, RRP £9.99.

Image credit: Karen Blakeman

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