In the excitement of planning a new landscape, you can easily overlook boring, practical things like potting benches, trash cans, and garden tools. For the avid gardener, these hardscape elements can be central to the experience of the garden. For those who don't garden often, these elements are accessed as needed and can be in an out-of-the-way location. Either way, make sure you plan for the useful areas of your landscape.
The coolest toolshed I ever saw was a curvaceous cob structure with a flamboyant ecoroof covered in luscious plants. It was unique, sensual, and beautiful, and made from materials mostly found on site, and other than the labor required to build this unique shed, it was . . . well, dirt cheap.
You can create the same type of building. With all the information available on cob construction, getting up to speed on dirt building is easy. Remember, cob isn't your only choice; you can create a small building out of any earthen material: adobe, superadobe, straw bale, or rammed earth. (Refer to the sidebar "An earth-building primer," earlier in this chapter, for explanations of these materials.) Alternatively, try reclaimed wood, used metal siding, or whatever else is available that fits into your overall scheme.
MJEff Make sure that flooring surfaces in work areas are level, smooth, and solid.
(If you've ever lost a small but important screw in gravel, you know what I'm talking about.) Also, be sure to keep these areas away from living areas and neighbors if they'll be sources of noise.
An 8- by 10-foot storage shed is wonderful, but if you don't have that kind of room on your property, look for other places to sneak storage in: along fence lines, under eaves, or in idle corners. A narrow storage cabinet is ideal for garden tools and most small supplies. Be sure to allow at least 3 to 4 feet in front for access, and check local zoning laws to be sure you aren't putting your storage in a forbidden location.
Garden work areas such as potting benches, cold frames, and small greenhouses can assist your efforts to propagate plants and grow useful food. These structures, which can be made from scrap, make great weekend projects. Consider including a salvaged kitchen sink that drains into the garden, for washing veggies and pots and watering the garden at the same time (assuming that you won't be using any toxic substances).
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