Can’t find a pre-fab garden shed that tickles your fancy? Get a structure that graces your landscape by building it yourself.


yard birds eye view from before the build

Last year, we created a lovely pond in this backyard (see how here). But that left the rest of the garden with a sort of inferiority complex (along with a feeble path that leads nowhere). So we created a plan to fill the remaining landscape with areas worthy of a visit.

With help from Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, we decided to build a 12 x 12-foot she-shed, a patio and pergola, and landscape a new border at the back of the lawn.

Digging a foundation

Every structure starts with a good foundation. Ours will rest on treated 12-foot 4×4-inch runners that are leveled on concrete blocks. Narvas digs in to create a base.


Placing the foundation blocks

He fills a pit with rock, tamps it down, then, places the block on top. Three blocks in a row will provide the base for each treated runner.


 Building the floor frame

After placing the runners and checking that they’re level, Narvas builds a frame for the floor. Two 12-foot 2x4s form the sides, while two 2x4s cut to 11 feet 9 inches are nailed to the ends to form the top and bottom of the frame. He checks the level at each stage and measures the frame to ensure that it’s square. To do that, he measures from one corner of the frame to the opposite corner, then, repeats it for the other corners. If those two measurements are equal, the frame is square.

Toenail the frame to the runners with framing nails to keep it secure.


Adding floor joists

Narvas cut the floor joists to 11 feet 9 inches and places them in the frame on 16-inch center spacing.


Spacing the floor joists

Hannah and Narvas make sure they’ve got the joists placed just so on both sides of the frame.


Securing the floor joists

Then, he secures them to the frame on both sides and to the runners with framing nails.


Flooring on joists

Using 23/32-inch subfloor sheets, Narvas covers the joists. Three full-size sheets are placed side-by-side on the joists with the center sheet at the front header of the frame and the two side sheets at the back footer of the frame. Two sheets are cut into 4×4-foot pieces to fill in the 3 open spaces that remain. The leftover piece will be used later for roofing truss gussets.


Tilling the ground

While all this is going on, we’re also working on creating the border that will help tie our new construction into the landscape. After we’ve laid out the shape of the border, Narvas demonstrates the best way to use the tiller. He used the equipment to break up the soil, I got to go in later and remove all the grass clumps and weeds.


Compost from landfill

Our ship came in when we discovered the local landfill was giving away loads of compost. One quick visit and we’ve got enough to enrich the entire border.


Unloading the compost

The staff at the landfill used a front-end loader to fill the pickup bed. Unfortunately, at the other end, we’ve got to cart to the backyard the old fashioned hands-on way.


Relocated plum tree

The first thing we did was transplant a nice little purple plum tree that was too close to our new shed. Then we added compost all around the newly tilled bed.


Tilling the soil

Hannah uses the tiller to work the compost into the soil and give it a better texture overall.


Perennials and shrubs

We selected some easy-care shrubs and perennials as the foundation for our design.


Adding annuals

We’ll add annuals for quick fillers and color but as the border matures from year to year the foundation plants will take over.


Corner plants

We figure out what goes where along the shed side and front corner but we’ll hold off putting them in the ground until the walls are up and the roof is on.


Planting the border

Kurtis starts by planting the larger shrubs, follows with the smaller ones, like this weigela, then adds the perennial plants, adjusting the placement as needed. Finally, the annuals are planted in the spaces between and along the edge of the border.


Finessing the border design

Things get moved around while the design takes shape and color, size, and bloom time are taken into consideration.

In our next post, the shed takes shape!

Products Used:

Thanks to our project sponsor, Lowe’s Home Improvement Stores, for making this series possible!


© Caruth Studio

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