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The Flat Cap on ... Garden Sheds

Regular visitors to this website may recall The Flat Cap discussing his lawn some months back. Now that his grass has begun to look a bit better The Flat Cap has decided to invest in a garden shed to store his mower. Easy you might think, until you go online and realise that garden sheds come in all shapes and sizes, and there’s a variety of materials you can choose for their construction. Pent roof or apex, wooden or metal, plastic or glass, with or without windows? The choices are mind boggling. So if you’re thinking of buying a new garden shed, or just replacing an old one read on. The Flat Cap’s guide to garden sheds is here to help you make an informed choice, and it may be the only guide you’ll ever need; although given the random nature of his previous articles that’s highly unlikely.

The first step with any garden shed is to sit it on a decent base. This base can be stones, concrete or even treated timbers. Nowadays you can even buy plastic shed bases. But lay your shed on the ground and its base will rot. Even metal sheds need a base, and the other thing to remember is that the base needs to be level. The Flat Cap’s granddad had a garden shed and it sloped. This meant that all the paint tins stored inside used to slide along the shed’s shelves, and it was very lop sided. The shed was demolished in 1993 when The Flat Cap’s granddad moved house and went to live in an old people’s home. Three to four inches is normally a thick enough base for most garden sheds.

Whist he was writing this blog The Flat Cap’s friend, Ted called round to borrow a screwdriver and over a cup of tea and a plate of chocolate digestives (not the value ones) the two men came up with their top four reasons for buying a shed. Storage was the obvious first choice and The Flat cap said his shed was home to a lawnmower, garden tools, two bicycles and a portable gas barbecue, although he hadn’t used the last item for over a year and was thinking of selling it on Ebay. The second reason for buying a shed was health and safety. Ted said he had a padlock on his shed as it housed weed killer, paint tins and a bottle of turpentine. Ted worried that his grandchildren would visit and might harm themselves by drinking from one of the bottles so he had put helpful labels on each of them which read “POISON - NOT LEMONADE”. That said, he was always careful to lock the shed whenever they were around. Reason three was that sheds add value to your house and number four was that they could be used as a ‘man cave’ if you had a wife or girlfriend that you needed time away from.

After Ted had eaten the rest of The Flat Cap’s quality biscuits the two men went along to a local garden centre to find out more about shed design, and the variety on offer. The good bit about garden centres is that when you get bored of looking at plants, or fencing, or bags of compost you can usually find an on-site café to sit down in and have a cup of tea and a sandwich. Some cafes do hot food and homemade cakes. The biggest garden centres even have play areas for children and occasionally proprietors have gone further and installed ornamental gardens with water features to keep customers’ interest and encourage them to buy more and more decorative garden items.

After browsing the array of wooden, metal and plastic sheds on offer The Flat Cap can report that the safest way to get what you need is to simply measure the space you have available and go to see an expert. A proper shed salesperson will tell you if it’s really a shed or a summerhouse you need, and be able to describe the different types of materials in detail. If it’s a wooden shed you’re after they can also advise what to paint it with so it doesn’t rot over time. And finally, always remember to do some research and compare prices online before you buy.

A helpful man in a blue garden centre polo shirt called Norman (because he was wearing a name badge that read, “Norman, I’m here to help”) happily chatted to The Flat Cap about garden sheds and volunteered the following interesting shed related facts:

  • The word shed comes from the Anglo Saxon word “scead” which was a shaded place to rest

  • Authors Rudyard Kipling, Agatha Christie and Roald Dahl all wrote some of their best stuff whilst sitting in their sheds. English composer, conductor and pianist Benjamin Britten used to write music in his shed. One of the sheds he once owned is now a Grade 2 listed building

  • The most unusual discovery made in a garden shed was E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, in the film of the same name

  • In ancient Egypt, people would worship a god named “Shed”. Shed was the god of danger, deadly animals and illness

  • There is a shed of the year contest and the winner is announced each summer. Prize money for the best shed runs into thousands of pounds, enough to buy a ten feet by twelve feet summerhouse

  • Arguably the world’s largest shed was built in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War. Made from wood it was situated in London’s Regents Park and constructed by the Post Office to handle post for the army

  • There are more than 12 million garden sheds in the UK, and worldwide more than half a billion

  • 56 per cent of male shed owners say they spend time in their sheds to get away from their partner

  • The average cost of a garden shed is £900

  • The most famous garden shed kidnapping occurs In the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Grandpa Potts is in his shed when he is kidnapped by Baron von Bomburst of Vulgaria. The Baron’s Zeppelin flies off with the shed hanging from it

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