Garden Photo of the Day

Total Transformation

Susan Strong transforms her homely garden shed into an indoor/outdoor masterpiece. 

"When I moved into my home in NW Arkansas five years ago there was a homely little garden shed in the SE corner of my backyard where I wanted to site my raised vegetable garden.  I had the shed moved just a short distance to the SW corner with the intent of making it more presentable.  I had it resided and a new smaller (and more attractive) door made.  Next, I painted the body and the new door and had someone build a cedar trellis on each side.  Then came the fun part of planting roses on the trellises and building/planting two small garden areas (one on the left and behind the shed and one on the right side).  This work took place over four years, during which time I was collecting vintage tools that I purchased quite inexpensively at estate sales and flea markets.  While I was happy with the garden shed exterior and surrounding garden areas, the inside of the shed remained sad looking; so this spring I painted the ceiling, walls and floor and decorated the interior with the vintage tools I had been accumulating since I moved here.  Now the inside is a fitting match for the exterior and I smile each time I open the door."

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Garden shed before its transformation

Garden shed with new siding, door, and trellises

Stone path to new garden bed ahead and stone ramp to veggie garden to the left (blueberry bushes at left of picture)

Garden bed on left side of garden shed and area behind the shed

Birdbath behind the garden shed with Amsonia ‘Blue Ice’

Small garden bed tucked between the fence and the right side of the garden shed.  (Hosta ‘Sum of All’ in the galvanized tub.)

Back wall of the garden shed decorated with vintage “finds” and an old wooden ladder suspended from the ceiling.

Shelves on the left wall with wooden and galvanized containers in which I store fertilizers, tools and supplies.

Right wall with my collection of hose nozzles and sprinkler heads.

View Comments


  1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

    Nice work Susan. You have done a great job of making your shed and garden so attractive and interesting. I too collect and display vintage tools and equipment etc. Keep up the good work!

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Hi Frank - where/how do you display your gardening tools? I'd love to see some pictures! I collect woodworking tools, too, and my next project is a display area in my basement workshop.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

        Greetings Susan - I tried to send a pic. but the size must have been too big and it wasn't accepted. I have a lot of old saws and tools hanging on the walls next to my rotunda, and a lot of old mould board ploughs in the garden i.e. garden art. In addition, I have a lot of old axes, planes, drills and other tools in my shed.

        1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

          Love the plow! I think of old farming implements as art. You must have a much larger yard than I. I have a few old wheelbarrows, but they are the largest items I have on display. I have a collection of galvanized watering cans - up to 23 now. I also have quite a few lovely old metal and wooden pulleys. The detail with which they were made is remarkable - nothing new like it these days.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            Susan, I like you purchase stuff at clearing sales. The ploughs were bought at a sale of a farmer's estate. We have a 1 acre vacation property in East Gippsland, Victoria, Australia. I noticed your collection of watering cans - nice! Also have some old pulleys. Something about that old equipment! Cheers (still having trouble posting some pics)

        2. User avater
          meander_michaele 06/07/2016

          Frank, is this picture of the plow from your garden? It looks like a real treasure...ahh, the stories it could tell.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            Hello there Michaele - yes our garden in Metung on the Gippsland Lakes down under. There are 2 mouldboard ploughs (sorry about our spelling) and a chisel plough. All horse drawn and used in agriculture here in the 1920s. You betcha they could tell some great stories!

  2. diane_lasauce 06/07/2016

    That's the tidiest garden shed in history! You are fortunate to have such a level plot! Nice rock work too! Garden on!

  3. Vespasian 06/07/2016

    Love your collection of vintage tools and so beautifully displayed. Great job on the shed. Where do you keep your modern garden tools and lawn mower, wheel barrows etc, do you have another shed? Love to see where your shed is in relation to the house.

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Thank you Ann. I attached a picture of the potting area and "storage garage" under my upper deck. It was unusable when I moved here, but I had the floor leveled and lattice walls installed. I keep my wheel barrow, garden cart, potting bench and many tools/supplies in there. It's an enjoyable spot in which to work during the hot summer months because it's shaded, but gets a lovely breeze thanks to the lattice. (The staging was there so I could paint the paint the deck and lattice without fear of falling.) I also attached an old picture of the garden shed taken from my upper deck. You can see that the garden shed is only about 30 feet from the lower deck.

      1. Vespasian 06/07/2016

        Sounds great. How do I see the picture

        1. Vespasian 06/07/2016

          Thanks for posting these, I love pictures that show off the whole garden not just plant close ups. You are doing a wonderful job, great view from your deck and it does make a good storage area underneath. We have storage under ours too but as it is not waterproof can't use it for the lawn mower, weed whipper etc. I have added a photo of our deck and house, looking up the garden, we are fortunate to have a lot with different levels, some we created. We will be moving in July and I will have a smaller, flat lot that is at the moment just lawn! I am looking forward to creating a new retreat.

          1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

            Ann - your backyard, home and deck area are gorgeous! I'll bet you'll hate to leave them. Even though my under-deck area is dry (mostly), I keep my lawn mower and weed whacker in my garage, too.

          2. Vespasian 06/08/2016

            I will it has been 25 years in the making but too much for me now. The garden is 200 feet deep backing onto a ravine. We are however looking forward to the new and much smaller garden. The front has been done but the back is just lawn so a clean slate, exciting, we already have plans! I recently re designed the fron garden to eliminate the lawn and create an easy maintenance and drought resistant garden. This is the second spring.

      2. Cenepk10 06/07/2016

        Very nice !!! My garden "shed" is under my deck too. But ! It's only 3.5' off the ground ?

  4. Quiltingmamma 06/07/2016

    Quite the transformation! I really like it. I appreciate that the inside is tidy and fresh due to new paint job, but I think you should consider changing it from shed duty to retreat duty before it starts to get dirty again. It certainly has 'retreat' potential. A side table with garden books on a lower shelf, a tray with tea/or G&T on top, and a comfy armchair or chaise longue (if one is inclined to nap in their garden)....

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Good idea quiltingmamma! I will look for a pretty little chair that fits with the decor. :-)

  5. User avater
    meander_michaele 06/07/2016

    What an awesome about inspiration for anyone toying with the idea of rehabbing an existing shed or building a new one. Your displays of old tools and nozzles are so artistic and add so much charm. And your garden beds surrounding the shed in its new location are beautiful. Kudos on a wonderfully successful project!

  6. grannieannie1 06/07/2016

    OH-MY-GOODNESS! After seeing your artfully executed shed's interior I blush at the jumbled mess mine is in. Thank you for the push to tidy up and the decorative ideas. Great job!

  7. user-4691082 06/07/2016

    You have done a wonderful job, Susan! Now the rest of us can have shed envy! I just LOVE what you did with the interior! Everything looks so TIDY! I am staring out of my glass room looking at what was my beautiful swath of phlox ' May Breeze'. It looks like a tangled mess of weeds. Great job. Do you have a photo of your blueberries ready to harvest? I would love to see it. Thanks!

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Thanks Rhonda - collecting all those old tools was a lot of fun. Funny you should ask about the blueberries. I just came in from picking a small colander full. I would love to send a picture, but my new camera takes pictures that have too many pixels (?) and Disqus will not allow me to attach a picture. The pictures I attached below were taken with my old camera.

      1. nenitafranck 06/07/2016

        Obviously your blueberries have amended soil, sun, heat to have a full colander???? I have 2 3yr blueberry plants that have produced 3 blueberries and I got to eat 1.
        I too am having problems with downloading pics that have to much mb pixels.
        Your shed and garden look so clean and orderly.....too beautiful and peaceful. Your too cleaver for the slugs too.

        1. NWAgardener 06/08/2016

          Hi Nenita - blueberries require two different species to cross fertilize and produce fruit. Could that be the problem? I have three bushes of one variety and two of another. Sorry to respond so late, but I just got in from working outside and I didn't see your message above earlier.

      2. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

        If you don't have a program that will down-sample your images or don't have the training, I wonder if anyone has any good suggestions for getting lower-resolution images without changing the camera settings and taking poor quality photos? I know this won't work for your camera, but I know if I email an image from my iPhone, the email program asks me what size I want sent, and will down-sample to keep the file size manageable.

        1. user-7007498 06/08/2016

          I use a Mac. If I select a high res photo, and go to the File menu, then select Export, it gives me a menu where I can select all the details (type of file, resolution, etc). I then save the lower res version to my desktop, and upload it from this website.

  8. Cenepk10 06/07/2016

    Omgoodness!!! I'm so jealous!!! The whole package is perfection. What a tremendous end product & I'm sure worth the 4 year investment of time. I give this a 10 !!!!!!

  9. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

    Going from eye-sore to eye-candy! What a transformation. Everything looks great, Susan, and thanks for sending in such a nice assortment of photos. Are you a natural, or do you have a background in art or design? I'm quite impressed with your collection and arrangement in the shed, and your garden is not too shabby, either!
    But, as wonderful as all of that is, those stones have me green with envy. The stones in the path look quite substantial. Beautiful!

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Thank you Tim - I guess I'm a "natural" since my background is accounting and risk management. I do, however, love decorating and get lots of good ideas from magazines and the internet. I, too, love the stone work I've had done in my yard. It gives the gardens a sense of age and prominence. My yard would not be the same without them.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

        Hi Susan - I don't know if you are aware of the Myer Briggs personality profile, but with your accounting background and perfectionist attitude I bet is that you are an ISTJ. Any reaction?

        1. User avater
          Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

          Interesting, Frank. I was thinking that I see accounting and risk management all over this garden and inside the shed!

          1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            Yep Tim - my bet is ISTJ i.e. Introvert, Sensing, Thinking and Judging. Likes facts and figures and logic etc. Accountants and scientists are after ISTJs - I'm one!

          2. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

            I've never done Myer-Briggs, but have done some other assessments. I usually cross categories. I'm a medical illustrator, so I do science and art and consider myself and extroverted introvert. Add in OCD and perfectionism, and you've got a mess! :)

          3. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            Worth having a look at the Myer Briggs profiles (there are 16). My background is also science and I oscillate between extrovert and introvert, but on balance I'm an introvert. My bet is that you too are an ISTJ Tim.

          4. NCYarden 06/07/2016

            OK, Tim, getting a little freaky. I am predominantly a medical/research illustrator & animator, as well as the zealous gardener. Are we related?

          5. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            This is getting scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          6. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

            You've got to be kidding me? More to come.

          7. sheila_schultz 06/07/2016

            You know what they say about it being a small world??? I wonder what other mysteries are lurking out there waiting for the right question to be asked? Hmmmmm?????

          8. Cenepk10 06/08/2016

            Thats so cool, Tim. I only know 1 medical illustrator - You make 2 ! Her husband is the gardener & an art teacher at prestigious school. Extroverted Introvert... Haha ! You should take that Briggs- Meyers test- Im INTJ - What you thought as your flaws , you'll see is what makes you so unique!!!!

          9. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/09/2016

            That's very unusual that you know another Medical Illustrator because it is such a small and specialized field. How cool is that. There were 7 in my graduating class and we have our 30-year-reunion in September. Crazy.

          10. Cenepk10 06/09/2016

            I know ! Maybe you know her - Lelane Weiss

          11. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/09/2016

            Unfortunately doesn't ring a bell. Having been in the field so long and not being involved in the professional organization, I am a little isolated. Still, a very cool coincidence!

          12. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

            Risk Management in the tool shed?! - with all those sharp objects!

          13. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            That's why risk management is important Susan!

          14. User avater
            Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 06/07/2016

            Um....They're hung on the wall, out of harm's way, in an orderly fashion and not being used.....
            Risk managed.

        2. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

          Oh my goodness - I think you hit the nail on the head! I think I use "Intuition", however, when it involves people. "Sensing" on most other things. Thanks for the analysis. :-)

          1. frankgreenhalgh 06/07/2016

            Actually ISTJs have little intuition - work more on facts and figures and logic etc.

  10. VikkiVA 06/07/2016

    Your garden shed is beautiful. I love your collections especially the nozzles and sprinkler heads. I'm so envious of all your stone work. The landing in front of the shed and the pathways and bed edging. Your entire garden is amazing. Thanks for sharing. Vikki in VA.

  11. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

    Thank you Diane - charming and quaint are the looks I am trying to achieve. I love the patina of things gracefully aged and I'd like my yard to be a rustically elegant retreat from all that's noisy and plastic.

  12. user-7008113 06/07/2016

    so sweet, such a haven

  13. sheila_schultz 06/07/2016

    Susan, your photos look like they are straight out of a magazine shoot... stylists don't have anything on you, our GPOD friend! Everything is picture perfect, from the wonderful old tools hanging on the walls of your shed and fence to the hosta's with nary a slug 'hole'! Delightful!

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Thank you Sheila - I do see slugs, but for the most part they leave my hostas alone. I use compost for my beds instead of mulch and I believe that makes a big difference - no place for them to hide. I had a hosta bed interplanted with Creeping Jenny and the slugs devoured the hostas in that bed because it was cool and moist under the Creeping Jenny and they had a place to hide. I tore out the Creeping Jenny and no more slug problem!

  14. foxglove12 06/07/2016

    How fun! Love your tool collection.

  15. schatzi 06/07/2016

    The gardens and rock work are beautiful, but the shed is amazing! I would never have dreamed that old tools could be so artistically displayed. Great job!

  16. User avater
    treasuresmom 06/07/2016

    I love your little shed. Mine is in dire need of a repainting. What color did you paint yours?

    1. NWAgardener 06/07/2016

      Thank you. I painted it with a Behr solid stain that Home Depot color matched to a sample of siding from my house. The garden shed door is the same shade of green as the front door of house, too.

  17. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 06/07/2016

    What a transformation, Susan. You certainly have an artistic green thumb and I'll bet the rest of your yard is just as beautiful. Love all of the stone work and colorful touches like the wheelbarrow.
    Really inspiring.

  18. NCYarden 06/07/2016

    Wow, what an upgrade! I can't believe how tidy it is. If I could only have my shed so organized, not to even mention the cleanliness. Your plantings and stone make it look so well integrated into the the garden now. The collector in me really appreciates your articles of yore. Really nice, Susan.
    On another note, I have to say great name, as I am a big fan of the animated show Adventure Time. Susan Strong is a great character!

  19. Sunshine111 06/07/2016

    Gorgeous! Don't you dare come to New Hampshire to look at mine!!! ;-)

  20. eddireid 06/08/2016

    I've had so much fun reading all the comments - such an amazing collection of gardeners! And now we know deep secrets thru Myers-Briggs. Love it all.
    Susan your shed has turned into Pandora's Box, but more kind, of course. I have a thing about sheds but don't actually own any - maybe one day. Your decorating and gardening skills are really amazing and well worth remembering if I'm ever lucky enough to finally have my own shed. Thank you.

  21. annek 06/08/2016

    What a wonderful garden. Is I only you are. I love everything about your garden shed and surrounding beds. It's perfection!

  22. user-7007498 06/08/2016

    Susan: Your shed is amazing. It looks like a museum. If it were mine, I would be afraid to use it. You did a fabulous transformation. Lovely.

  23. perenniallycrazy 06/08/2016

    Yours is the most darling and divine garden shed of all Susan! Love it and everything you've planted around it. I've bookmarked your page today and will be referring back to your photos for inspiration. Thank you.

  24. frwnkw3 06/08/2016

    Very nice job but ours is full of lawn tools and power equipment.

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