May 1st, 2007
Shed Not A Tear

Zanthan Gardens
The shed as it’s looked the last 14 years or so. (Notice how shady my garden is.)

The tagline from Croupier was “Hang on tightly; let go lightly.” That pretty much sums up my attitude in life. I have a hard time letting go but once I make the decision…poof!

Ever since last summer when we installed the new kitchen window, we’ve come face to face with an incontrovertible realization. There’s a damn ugly shed in our backyard. This pretty useless outbuilding with a leaky roof and infested with termites is a blight on the whole back garden. Worse, it collects junk. We fill it with empty cardboard boxes, rotting lumber, old bottles, defunct garden hoses, and broken toys.

Last year’s (still not quite finished) kitchen remodel left us sick of DIY projects. So we decided (the Garden Ranters will gasp) to hire someone to do it for us. And worse (please Garden Ranters, don’t go into apoplexy), we are going to convert it into an Outdoor Living Space. Our little cottage doesn’t have a separate dining room and although our kitchenette table is fine for the two of us, we thought it might be nice to have people over from time to time. (I did so enjoy having the Austin Garden Bloggers.)

I found a design I really liked (mouse over the upper right thumbnail). Our first job was to cut down the Texas Mountain laurels that are standing where the new deck will be. I never intended for them to grow there. I planted seed in the drip line hoping they’d sprout and they did. Thing is, I never got around to transplanting them. So there they’ve grown for ten years and 7 feet.

Zanthan Gardens
Our first job was to cut down the Texas mountain laurel that I’d grown from seed.

Next we had to clean out the shed. I collapsed all the cardboard boxes and bound them up for recycling. I took a decade’s worth of black plastic plant containers to Barton Springs Nursery for recycling. Pam @ Digging took my blue bottles and turned them into an artsy bottle tree. The rest of the stuff, we left for the builder to haul off as trash when he demolished the old shed.

Which he did today. Looks better already!

Zanthan Gardens
2007-05-01. I love the possibilities of a clean slate.

by M Sinclair Stevens

14 Responses to post “Shed Not A Tear”

  1. From Susan:

    I’m looking forward to watching the progress of your screened porch project. I’ve loved that Floribunda porch for a while (we’ve long wanted to build a freestanding screened porch — is it still a porch if it’s not connected to another building? — on some land we own in Hays County and the Floribunda one is just what we’d like).

    I don’t think it is a porch unless it’s attached. But we’ve tried a lot of different names and can’t find one that sticks. Summer house? Garden house? It’s not a cabana because it’s enclosed. And it’s not a cottage or a guest house because it’s open. Screened room describes its architecture but not its function. I just hope it doesn’t become known as the expensive boondoggle. — mss

  2. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    That Floribunda screened room looks perfect for you, M. Are you going to plant a Japanese-themed garden around it?

    I haven’t thought that far ahead. I don’t anticipate much change to the garden except that there will be less of it as the summer house is slightly larger than the shed and will have a deck. — mss

  3. From M2 (Austin):

    I’m crazy jealous again. Gorgeous and exciting!

    You’re jealous? After moving into that fantastic upscale house of yours? — mss

  4. From bill:

    I like that too. Looking forward to seeing how it goes. We have a space also where a free-standing screened porch would be perfect.

    Did I ever tell you that we finished installing the bamboo floor in the new room. We get compliments from everyone who sees it.

    I’m so glad you went with the bamboo and like it. We love ours. — mss

  5. From Dawn (Austin):

    Wow! What a difference some demolition makes. It’s no simple task to get rid of so much stored stuff. I’ll bet it was both exhausting and cathartic.

    Sounds like you’re going to have a great outdoor living area where you’ll be able to enjoy your lovely garden even more. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.



    We’ll certainly have a party when it’s finished and invite all the Austin Garden Bloggers, of course! — mss

  6. From KAT (California):

    I love that structure–is this prefab? Or built by an Austin firm? Do you need a permit to put something like this up? Does it have electricity? A million questions….I could totally see this in our yard here in Pasadena.

    Floribunda does custom designs. I thought I could just pick one from their catalog and they’d build it but apparently each design is unique. Our project needs to be built looking forward to a possible guest house conversion someday. And, yes, it requires a building permit which we have. We would like to run electricity to it but that will be a separate project. As will a rainwater collection system. Luckily, the upgrade required by last year’s kitchen remodel provided extra exterior circuits. — mss

  7. From Julie (Austin):

    Presto chango!

    (after many months of rumination…)

    Way to let-go.

  8. From Annie in Austin:

    How exciting! If it were built in a different climate, it could be called a Summerhouse, maybe… but in Austin, you’ll get to use it in all seasons. It’s going to be fun to watch the progress, MSS.


  9. From Angelina (Oregon):

    I shiver at the thought of all that work cleaning out the old shed…but I’m excited for you to have a place to gather lots of friends for food and good conversation, and how could it be better situated than in your garden. How exciting!

    I’m an Air Force BRAT. As a settled adult one thing I miss about moving around is having to go through my stuff every couple of years and throw out the accumulation of junk. My parents were both Depression babies and my Mom came from a pioneer family which taught her to save everything–you never knew when you’d need it. I love to get rid of stuff but I feel guilty about throwing anything away. Not only because of my “Waste not. Want not.” upbringing but because I hate to think of how much I’ve sent to the local landfill in my lifetime. So I recycle as much as I can and give what I can to Goodwill and the Habitat for Humanity. Now that it’s all gone, I feel exhilarated. — mss

  10. From Annie in Austin:

    M, how do you feel about the word “pavillion”?

    Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary gives several meanings, including “a small, ornamental building in a garden” and “a light, usually open buiding used for shelter, concerts, exhibitions, etc. as at a park or fair.”

    Being able to say, “Let’s have tea in the pavillion” sounds pretty romantic somehow.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

    Pavilion sounds a bit up-market to me, although if it weren’t screened in, it would be very like a pavilion. I need something a little more 78704-ish. — mss

  11. From Pam/Digging (Austin):

    How about the Zanthan cabana?

    Only if it comes with a cabana boy. — mss

  12. From r sorrell (Austin):

    Well, for starters, I LOVE “outdoor living areas,” and I wish I had one. Second, I don’t really think “pavillion” sounds too fancy… And third, my theory is that you should PRETEND that you’re moving every couple of years so that you’re forced to get rid of all of the stuff you’ve accumulated that you’ll never use. (Not that I actually do it, it’s just my theory.)

    My theory, too! Before every New Year, I do my “spring” cleaning. And then after the holidays, I do it in spring, too. However, I’ve never successfully tricked myself into the brutal purging that accompanies a real move. — mss

  13. From Ki (New Jersey):

    A tabula rasa. The mind rages with the endless possibilities.

    Indeed! — mss

  14. From JP in Austin:

    Would like to learn more about the permit process for sheds/out buildings in Austin. Any tips?

    Did you consider prefabs?