How to Prepare Your Garden for a Shed

Apex roof shed with open double doors on a concrete slab with pot plant in front

Should I put my shed on blocks? Can I put my shed on gravel? What’s the best base for a shed?

Sometimes, it seems like there’s a million questions to answer before you even buy a shed. You might even find yourself asking whether it’s cheaper to build your own shed. Not to worry though – we’re here to help you answer all those questions. 

But one thing holds true, whether you build your shed or not – you’ll need to prepare your garden for a shed.

That goes for whatever you intend to use your garden building for – whether that be a home office shed, a storage shed, or a summerhouse. So follow this simple guide to preparing your garden for a shed to put your mind at ease.

How To Prepare Your Garden for a Shed:

  1. Choose your shed site
  2. Clear the ground of debris
  3. Level the ground and build a perimeter
  4. Build your foundation (gravel, paving, timber, or concrete)

Sounds simple right? And it is simple enough if you follow this helpful guide. So without further ado, let’s crack on!

How to Build a Shed Base

Whether you’re building a metal shed or a wooden storage shed, a good base will ensure its longevity. 

You might have the highest quality pressure-treated timber. But if you don’t have a solid foundation you could lose your shed to sinking or rot. 

So let’s start simple with step 1, which is deciding where in your garden your shed is going to go.

Step 1 – Choose Shed Site

When thinking about where to place garden sheds you need to consider more than just looks. Of course, make sure that you place your shed somewhere that compliments your garden. But you’ll still need to consider structural elements.

Some questions you might want to ask when choosing a shed site are:

  • Access – Will I be able to walk all around my shed? Or do I want it hard up against a boundary?
  • Drainage – Is my shed able to drain excess rainwater? Make sure not to place your shed on boggy or marshy ground or in a gully.
  • Permission – Do I need to get planning permission to build here? Is it within my property lines and are my neighbours ok with the proposed shed? Click here if you want to read more on planning permission.

Remember, your shed site should be larger than the exact size of your shed’s base. We suggest adding a foot in every direction. So, for example, a square shed with a proposed base of 5ft. x 5ft. will need a 36ft. site.

You’ll also want to consider whether you’ll be connecting amenities to your shed. If you want to read more about installing utilities to your shed you can check out our helpful guide. If so, you might want to dial before you dig (DBYD) to check existing underground utility maps.

Last but not least, choosing a shed site isn’t just about the shed itself. Think about the other elements of your garden.

  • Do you have overhanging trees and shrubs that you want to regularly prune? These could cause damage to a shed roof in harsh weather conditions. 
  • Do you have plans for landscaping around your shed?
  • Do you have a path to your shed? Or is foot traffic going to ruin patches of your lawn?

Once you feel comfortable with where your shed’s going to go, you can look at preparing your shed site.

Bottom of garden fence lined with yellow flowers
Credit: Unsplash

Step 2 – How to Clear the Ground for a Shed

Whether you’re building a potting shed or a shed for a home garden office, you’ll want to know how to level the ground.

The first step will be to clean ground cover and debris like plants and stumps. Make sure to poison these at this stage if you don’t want to see them come back. We’ll explain in more detail, but failing to treat weeds can ruin your shed!

One of the biggest places where people fall down at this stage is not building a perimeter.

Think about it – you’re tamping the earth (hitting it with a tamper to compact it) and you don’t have a perimeter. Then the earth at the edges of your base isn’t going to be held in place. This means that over time your shed’s base can actually become structurally unstable.

To combat this, consider building a perimeter to hold your shed base in place. Use pressure- and ground-contact treated wood to build a simple frame around your base. From there, you can move on to compacting the earth.

For now, use a rake to pull up dead weeds, leaves, and stones. Then finish levelling it with a landscaping rake. 

Top tip: If you don’t have one of these, flipping your rake over and using the edge without prongs can give you a rough level.

Once you’ve done this, use a spirit level or run some string lines between the corners of your shed site to check the level. 

Then you can use either use a hand-held tamper and work around the border before moving into the centre of your site. Failing this, you could also stamp it level(ish) with just your boots! 

Though we don’t think your legs will thank you.

 

If you’re really going all out, you could even hire a ‘whacker’ (or petrol compactor) for this stage. This might come in handy if you opt for a gravel base in step 4.

Flat level ground with grass in the background
Credit: Unsplash

Step 3 – Building the foundation

Next, you’ll want to lay down a weed-proof membrane (or landscaping fabric). Even if you’ve killed your weeds we recommend that you follow this step. This will prevent weeds and moisture from reaching the floor of your shed.

Once you’ve levelled your ground and build a perimeter ready for your shed you can move on to step 4.

Step 4 – Building a shed base

At this stage of learning how to prepare your garden for a shed, you’ll have a couple of different options. We’d recommend following steps 1-3 no matter what base you go for, however. 

Then you can settle on one of either:

  • Crushed stone base
  • Pavement slab base
  • Timber base
  • Concrete base

Let’s have an in-depth look at those options for a garden shed base.

Timber frame base pallet on concrete floor
Credit: Wikipedia

Crushed Stone Base

You might also hear a crushed stone garden shed base referred to as a gravel base. Although, it’s not quite the same as gravel that you might put in your driveway. Crushed stone is useful because it allows water to drain away whilst protecting against weed growth.

So if you’re looking to build a gravel shed foundation, we suggest going for “¾ clean” crushed stone. These are (as the name suggests) ¾ inch stones with have been cleaned of dirt to make sure they don’t lock up.

Crushed stone also offers a good compromise on price. But it’ll still give a sufficient foundation to most sheds.

Once you’ve ordered your crushed stone, have it dumped inside the perimeter you built earlier. Then you can work on tamping and levelling it just like you did with your dirt in step 2.

Top tip: This time, start near the edges and work your way inward in a spiral. Then you won’t get gravel piling up at your perimeter.

Pavement Slab Base

An even cheaper option for a garden shed base might be building a pavement slab base.

This is because we probably all have some paving slabs lying around our garden. So if you don’t want to pour a concrete slab, a paving slab base is a good alternative. You’ll need to integrate this with steps 2 and 3, though.

To lay a garden paving slab base for your shed, start by removing around 7cm of topsoil. You can then either sink the slabs and backfill or secure them with some all-purpose cement. 

Top tip: Make sure to level your slabs across the whole of your proposed site.

And remember, laying slabs on loose ground won’t create a suitable base for a garden shed. This is because paving slabs can sink into loose earth at different rates. This can cause your shed to become uneven and lead to cracked windows and doors that won’t open!

One argument against using paving slabs, though, is that animals might burrow underneath them. This can further weaken your foundation.

Timber Base

If you’re putting up a smaller outdoor garden shed, then you might think about building a timber base. 

Simply build a four-sided frame and affix crossbeams with a drill or nail gun. Then affix your frame to corner posts and drive it into the ground.

By building a simple frame to fit the size of your shed’s base you can also raise your shed. This will help with keeping its base dry and clear of weeds. It’s also a less permanent option than a concrete slab if you ever want to move your shed.

concrete steps with shadows on them
Credit: Unsplash

Concrete Base

But, if you do want a more long-term solution, you could always pour a concrete slab. Sheds under 8 x 8ft and weighing less than 300 pounds (including contents) won’t need this option, though.

Now, a concrete base will be more expensive but might see you better off in the long run. This is because it won’t sink in the way paving slabs or a timber base might.

If you are thinking about pouring a concrete base, follow these steps:

  • Level your shed site
  • Either build boxing or a perimeter. You can either remove boxing later or concrete in your perimeter with posts at all four corners
  • Mix and pour concrete inside the boxing
  • Using either a string line or height pegs, level concrete and discard excess
  • Leave the concrete to set and wash if necessary

Granted, a concrete slab will protect your shed from ground moisture. But it might cost a bit for a landscaper if you aren’t confident in following those steps yourself.

No matter what base you choose for your outdoor garden building, let’s recap some of the universal rules:

  • DO check the level again and again
  • DON’T leave rubble, leaves, or anything that can cause damage or rot
  • DO use a weed proof membrane underneath
  • DON’T try to erect your shed on bare ground or actual gravel

Once you’re happy with that we can move onto the final stage.

Preparing for shed delivery

Whether you’re building your own shed or buying one ready-made, you’ll need to prepare your garden in advance.

Then, you’ll want to aim to have your shed delivered on a run of good weather when you’ve got some time to assemble it. That means having your concrete slab set and ready to go or making sure your paving slabs haven’t sunk.

The good news is, with a selection of easy-to-assemble sheds available, it shouldn’t take too long. For example, our tongue-and-groove panels are ready cut and you and a friend can assemble them in a matter of hours.

Just remember to have clear access to your proposed shed site on the day of delivery.

Shed interior looking at garden through a window with a table with an open book, pipe, and small vase of flowers

Preparing Your Garden for a Shed

So now you know that there’s more than one option when it comes to preparing your garden for a shed. But there’s no need to be daunted!

Just follow the steps in this handy guide and you’ll have a shed foundation that’ll last you for a long time. And, if we’ve done our job, we all now know the answer to ‘can you put a shed directly on the ground?’. (No!)

So why not save yourself some time on shed construction and focus on laying the groundwork. And by that, we mean literal groundwork

Make sure that your shed site is ready to go whether you’ve chosen a gravel shed foundation or a timber base.

Then you can focus on prepping your garden for your new shed. Simply grab a friend and use our simple tongue-and-groove design to build your BillyOh outdoor building in no time.

And, now that you’ve got your garden ready for a shed we think we know the word that’s playing on your lips – BBQ. So why not check out our quick read on getting your garden ready for BBQ season?

Shop Garden Sheds

FAQs

No, as all our sheds are designed to be easy and simple to assemble. Simply use the digital assembly instruction provided with your order confirmation. Then you and a friend can have your BillyOh building up in no time!

 

Generally, smaller sheds don’t need footings. But if you’re building a large or commercial shed, footings need to be at least 1 meter deep. It’s best to check this against the size of your proposed shed.

 

Yes, creating a shed base from paving slabs can be an inexpensive solution. Just remember that slabs are liable to sink if not cemented in, though.

 

Simply make sure your groundwork is ready and level. Then construct your BillyOh shed with the digital assembly instructions provided.

 

We think a gravel (crushed stone) base is best for portable buildings. This will provide a solid foundation with good drainage and protection from weed growth. 

 

Sure...no! If you haven’t already, check out our guide to see why putting a shed on even 'solid ground' is a bad idea. The lack of a proper shed base can cause warping, rot, and irreparable damage.

 

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