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The Great Low Tech One Day Garden Shed Reorganization or the SCREAM Method

I didn’t have a particular plan, but the moment had presented itself and I knew that the time was right to take everything out of the garden tool shed. Okay, in all honesty, the moment was happening because I had hired the help of a young man for the day and he had finished the other things I wanted him to do. The time he had left to work for the day and the time I had available to direct him coalesced into, “Take everything out of the yard tool shed and sweep it.” If he did that, I would have 24 hours to deal with it before the sprinklers went on. I added that he could try to pile things in categories.

And so it was that the next day, I faced a very empty shed and heaps of stuff all over the lawn in front of it. I needed to make a plan very quickly, or it would be water damaged or all go back looking basically the same. First, I reviewed my basic goals in my head.

1. Maintainability. How would I put things back in so that there was a high probability of them being put away there again?

2. Accessibility. How could things be arranged so that I could get to everything when I wanted it?

3. Economical. How could I organize without spending any money on containers, or hangers, or anything else? Besides not wanting to spend money right then, I simply did not have the time to shop for them or install them.

4. Cleaning. Was there a way to arrange it all so that it would be much more likely to get swept out and kept relatively free of insects?

5. Safety. Where would I put things so that people (read that: the 4th daughter or me) would be less likely to cut themselves on tools, or so that chemicals were in appropriate environments?

6. Recycle. What did I have that should be repaired, remembered, or repurposed?

For the fun of it I am going to reorder those items and call this the SCREAM method of organizing.

  • Safety
  • Cleaning
  • Recycling
  • Economical
  • Maintainable
A good acronym makes all the difference, right?

A good acronym makes all the difference, right?

It certainly captures the do it now or suffer greatly position I had placed myself in. Or maybe it refers to my reaction as I discovered what was living in the dark corners of the shed. The young man had done a good job on the floor, but the open framework inside walls of the shed were prime territory for creepy crawlies. However, since I could see the spider webs were catching all kinds of irritating beetles and flies, I left the webs intact for the most part. And, I thought, why make them put out more effort spinning another, which I was sure they would do as soon as I left. I sew and crochet. I know that having your work undone is bothersome. (click any photo to enlarge)

One of my main issues was containers for the hand held garden tools I have. Besides having accrued multiples of most tools because of needing them for when all the kids had worked together in the yard in years gone by, I had found things on sale, bought new ones because I couldn’t find old ones (which I found now …), or, face it, collected them like some women collect shoes. This was not going to look like a pinterest project, and as soon as I came to grips with that, I could think of options that might not be so photo worthy. Like used one gallon sized black plastic pots. Ideally, I would have liked my containers to be off of the floor, but I only have one shelf currently and it was going to have to hold the various sprayers. Plus, the shelf was on the back wall, and I knew I needed these hand tools closer to the front. Trying to nail the pots to the wall would very likely have split them. I compromised and lined them up along one side of the shed.

All my tacky plastic tool pots in a row.

All my tacky plastic tool pots in a row.

Some of the chemicals (chemicals is a basic term) fit on the back shelf with the sprayers, but some went along the other side of the shed, specifically the side that would keep them in the shade. This included the gas cans and heavier containers of granules. When young children are around, the shed is probably closed and the children are definitely supervised in the vastness of the acre yard.

A couple of much larger black plastic plant pots were handy for corralling things like tall garden stakes and snow shovels, as long as I could lean them against a wall. The snow shovels went to the back of the shed, since they aren’t needed very often. The stakes were kept in the front corner. A few odd items were tucked in the spaces between framing 2 by 4 fours along the wall, but in ways that I could see them and pick them up easily. The long handles tools, like digging shovels and rakes were reorganized a bit to make best use of the hanging slot racks my kids had given me as a gift a couple years ago. Thanks, kids! These tools needed to be able to be removed and put back without always knocking other tools down.

The not often used chipper and snow shovels in a back corner.

The not often used chipper and snow shovels in a back corner.

The still functional, long handled tools hanging with practical spacing.

The still functional, long handled tools hanging with practical spacing.

Next, the riding mower was centered nicely in the shed, the push mower was set along one wall, and magically I had lovely walkways on both sides of the shed, making it possible for me to get to everything in it. Unfortunately, there were still piles on the lawn after I had made all this marvelous progress. I was sorely tempted to toss it all in garbage bags, but I have promised not to throw things away without asking my husband, so I started sorting.

With great satisfaction, I was able to throw away a few things in good conscience. I made another pile of items he might want to repair, as well as another pile of things he might want because he sees junk bits and pieces with different potential than I do. I even made a pile of things I thought I likely I would be allowed to donate and a pile of things that actually belonged to other people. When I was done, my husband very kindly came over and went through things with me, but not without feigning astonishment that I would part with certain things.

When it was over, I had a clean lawn and a clean shed. My husband had taken many things to his workshop area or given permission for further disposal. How do I know he loves me? He lets me throw things away sometimes!

I have been using the shed with this new low-tech organization for about a month now and it is showing very hopeful signs of being everything I stated in my goals. Now, I can quickly find and access what I want. I am not stressed out by seeing the inside of my shed. I may have to consider a good SCREAM into another corner of my kingdom.


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