What (Not) to Store in a Garden Shed

Getting your shed neatly organized is one of life’s sublime joys. That shed is the perfect place to relieve the overflow from closet, attic, and garage. But some things just shouldn’t be in your shed.

Now to be certain, nearly anything that can fit through the door can be stored there, but it may pose a problem if you discover that an item in storage has been unknowingly damaged. Knowing a few storage rules will benefit you (and your stuff) in the long run.

garden shed storage ideas

The owner of this 12×16 High Wall Barn is an organizer! Petroleum products and most lawn chemicals store well in a garden shed.

Save Your Stuff: 3 Essentials

  1. Temperature. Because a shed is outside and often is not insulated, the temperature fluctuation will vary greatly from summer to winter. This works in at least 3 ways:
    1. Heat expands and cold contracts, damaging sensitive equipment.
    2. Cold may freeze some liquids, making them useless after they have undergone a freeze.
    3. Extreme heat, on the other hand, can turn your shed into an oven. Baking a cake causes complex chemical changes that make it fluffy and delicious. The same heat can cause less helpful chemical changes to your valued possessions.
  2. Moisture. Because a shed is not often sealed off as tight as a house, the chances of water ever getting into it are higher than that of a home or permanent garage. Also, warmer air holds more humidity, and most sheds are not climate controlled. This works in at least 2 ways:
    1. Mold is also a danger resulting from moisture, even in the form of humidity and not actual contact with water. Mold can quickly destroy things you don’t want destroyed. Isn’t that why you put it in your shed in the first place?
    2. Rust can damage metal goods over the course of years.
  3. Pests. Rodents and bugs may thank you for leaving edibles in your shed. Put them on a diet by using tight storage containers for anything they might find attractive.

MAYBE Store These Items In Your Garden Shed

  1. Don’t keep your picnic and barbeque paperware–cups, plates, etc.–in your shed. Paper is a delicacy for numerous bugs and rodents, and you aren’t trying to run a charity for these critters. If you do have to keep these items in your shed, store them very securely in a tight plastic storage container.
  2. Pet food is another delicacy that your unadopted pets (think mice, rats, coons, and possums) will enjoy. Your shed may be tight enough to keep the largest animals out, but the smaller ones are going to find a way in. If you do need to keep pet food in the shed, a tight metal storage container such as a galvanized trash can will help deter uninvited guests.
  3. Clothing, or any cloth/leather/fabric could develop mold unless stored in an airtight container. It could also develop mice and bugs. Keep it safe.
  4. Photos are safer inside, but if you do put them in a shed, store them in a waterproof container.

DO NOT Store These Items In Your Garden Shed

  1. Canned food is better in a stable cool environment all the time. Humidity can cause corrosion of cans, leading to spoilage. And, the risk of spoilage rises with the temperature. In fact, high temp’s decrease food’s nutritional value. Read more from the University of Minnesota.
  2. Musical instruments can especially be affected by either heat or humidity depending on the type. An instrument made of wood is very much affected by heat and humidity. Brass instruments such as trumpets, trombones, and french horns, may corrode when exposed to humidity. Sheds are not for any musical instrument you wish to keep in good shape.
  3. Artwork needs climate control. Artwork is very vulnerable to both heat and moisture. Expansion and contraction can warp it. Humidity may cause mold. (Believe it or not, wrapping it in plastic wrap can make it worse. Details here.) High heat and sun can cause discoloration. If you wish to keep artwork in good condition, keep it inside.
  4. Electronics such as microwaves, phones, computers, etc, can be damaged if the heat is too intense.
  5. Paints and Glues. If paint freezes, I advise that you get more paint to replace what you had. The same with wood glue, or any kind of glue for that matter. If paint is lumpy after you stir it, replace it.
12x16 High Wall Barn

Garden tools are an obvious choice for storage in a garden shed.

DO Store These Items in Your Storage Shed

  1. Gasoline does not freeze, nor does oil. The heat does not make either go bad, but it does cause gas to expand. I have seen the pressure blow the lid off the container. The shed is a better place than the garage for extreme flammable such as gasoline. Think about it: If given the option, would rather burn your house down, or your garden shed?
  2. Propane tanks are another flammable that are happily stored in a storage shed. Normal temperature extremes and humidity do not affect propane tanks.
  3. Lawn tools and equipment. Such things as garden or shop tools, wheelbarrows, garden hose, chainsaws, trimmers, lawn mowers, ATV’s, bikes, and such all fit the requirements to be residents of a shed.
  4. Lawn and Garden chemicals. Most lawn and garden chemicals are not affected by outdoor storage. Many liquid chemicals do not lose their effectiveness even after being frozen. Obviously, it would be good to thaw them before they are applied! Get very detailed info from the Grow Network.

Between common sense and reading the labels, you should get along very well.

For some great tips on shed organization, read What Shed Options and Accessories Are Available?