Making the Most of Limited Space Outside or Inside
There never seems to be enough space at home. We need to store things, we need places for the kids to play, for work areas, to pursue our own hobbies, to entertain and more.
We nearly all use the garden to store things, sometimes under cover, perhaps in a shed or car port, sometimes in the open. The problem with storage is that it can make a garden (or shed) look messy, and if you're not a natural organizer, you always seem to have difficulty locating things when you want them.
If you want functional storage areas, there are a few golden rules to follow:
- Plan first on paper how you are going to arrange your storage area (i.e. what goes where and how much space it will require).
- Keep everything accessible - particularly thing you use a lot.
- Allocate specific areas for different things.
- Be ruthless with junk - either throw it out, or put it in a junk area where it doesn't clutter the things you use frequently.
- Clearly label any boxes or containers indicating what’s inside.
Problems and Solutions
Storage areas looking messy?
- Organise better.
- Hide - use screens, cupboards, sheds etc.
- Confine to one part of the garden only.
- Store small, loose items in boxes or containers (labelled) to prevent them moving all over the place.
- Organise better.
- Put specific types of items in specific areas (i.e. hand tools in one cupboard, craft items in another).
- Keep a written record.
- Colour code things.
- Keep in boxes (labelled).
- Tool board (with outlines of shapes around hooks).
- Store vertically or in rows where everything is seen rather than horizontally where things are hidden.
In a Building
- Hang things on walls.
- Build cupboards.
- Build shelves.
- Buy stackable, lightweight plastic storage bins. These are available in a wide range of shapes, sizes and colours.
- If ceiling is high enough, build shelves in the rafters.
- Cupboards attached to ceiling overhead - make sure you are still able to walk underneath, and ensure the cupboards are secure and not likely to fall.
- Netting strung from rafters or the ceiling can be used for holding light, bulky items.
- Store under house.
- In a loft space - ensure the floor is strong enough to bear weight.
In the Garden
- Store out of view behind a shed, garage, car port, or large tree.
- In the middle of large garden bed, surrounded by shrubbery.
- Under a veranda or timber deck.
- In a locker built up against the wall of a building or house...or built into a retaining wall.
- In the area between your house and side fence.
- Difficult bulky things like mowers, boats and bikes can take up a lot of room, but not height - build storage cupboards suspended from the ceiling above them. Be careful to ensure that any fixings and materials that you use are suitable for the purpose. In addition, also make sure that the ceiling/wall is itself strong enough to take the weight of any fixed or suspended items.
Make the Most of Space
There are some things which use up lots of space in a garden, and really don't need to use so much. Ideas to consider -
- Make your drive way shorter.
- Keep things which need to be moved in and out of the property closer to the front of the property (e.g. bin storage area close to front gate).
- Use upright plants more than spreading plants, or plants which have foliage above you, leaving space below (i.e more trees - less shrubs).
- Multi-layer things - store timber on racks, build 2 or 3 story houses, build sheds off ground leaving storage space underneath.
- Use Space Saving Plants (i.e. upright growing). Examples: Pencil pines. Pittosporum phyllyraeoides, Callitris rhomboidea, Buxus sempervirens, Bamboo.
Safety and Security
- Undisturbed storage in ceilings or sheds can attract vermin and pests such as rats, mice, possums, spiders and snakes. Care should be taken when moving stored goods in these areas if they have stood there for some time. Using gloves will be beneficial.
- Garden chemicals/poisons should be stored in locked, childproof cupboards or sheds.
- Mower Fuel or anything flammable should be stored in a secure, well ventilated area.
- Only store flammable materials in containers that meet the relevant standards for those particular materials. Contact your local fire department for advice if you are not sure. All containers should be clearly and permanently labelled.
- If you store more than one or two small containers of flammable materials you should consider obtaining suitable fire extinguishers in case of fire. These should be readily accessible, but not placed near enough to the flammable materials that they are threatened if fire occurs.
- Fencing around objects stored in the garden will help keep animals and children away, and will help create a barrier around unsightly objects.
- All storage areas should be lockable. Large items, such as bikes, stored outdoors can be chained and padlocked to something solid such as house stumps, or the uprights of a carport. Make sure that locks are regularly lubricated and/or protected from the weather. You should have at least two or three keys for each lock in case one is lost. These should be kept in safe, secure places. Make sure you know which key fits which lock. Secret codes on each key can help, but do not tag or mark each key as to which lock it fits, as this will only help thieves. Most importantly don't put your name or address on key tags. A phone number or post office box number is the most you should put on the tag in case it gets lost.
- For valuable items you may consider installing an alarm system, or even hiring a security firm to regularly keep a check on your property.
Temporary Storage Facilities
Temporary space can be hired if necessary. This can occur, for example, when moving house, when undergoing renovations or extensions, if someone in the family dies, or perhaps you are travelling overseas for an extended period and are renting out your house. Such facilities are easily found in the local press or online.
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