Types of Garden Structures

Deciding how to furnish your garden and choosing which types of outdoor structures and storage solutions you'd like can be a daunting task with the sheer quantity available. From small stores for that postage-stamp yard to gazebos, summerhouses and workshops for the larger spaces, we take a look at the different types of structures you can find.

Pergola – usually set out along a path, over a seating area or a single arch, pergolas can be found in many shapes and sizes. They are open structures, and regularly have trailing plants trained to grow over them to create a green or floral canopy.

Gazebo – more of a covered structure than pergolas, gazebos are small 'pavilion' style constructions with roofs and sometimes enclosed sides, which make them ideal for seating areas. From simple timber coverings to Japanese-inspired pagodas, they allow you to enjoy your garden even during light showers. (Smaller ones are also known as arbours.)

Log Stores – for those that have log burners or traditional fireplaces, these stores provide the perfect place to retain logs and protect them from the elements. These can be separate structures or even built as part of a shed layout to reduce the space used in your garden.

Summerhouses – a garden retreat with all the comforts of home or an office with a view, these are the most complex structures and may require planning permission. Most commonly found are the timber shed-like summerhouses with glazed doors, often used as a covered seating area with a comfy chair or sofa. In recent years, however, people have started to look for something a little more different and tailored to them and now they can be found in all shapes and sizes, from reimagined train carriages and old Airstream trailers to a fully lined and glazed self-contained annex.

Sources: Project Timber; Greenhouse People; Rotating Pod

Greenhouses - a staple for those who love to garden, greenhouses are fully glazed structures to allow as much light as possible to enter and create an almost tropical environment for growing cuttings and seeds and protecting them from harsh weather all year round.

Sheds – from a simple small tool storage shed to potting sheds and workshops, they’re the most popular and useful. They can be found in sizes to fit even the smallest of gardens, and customisation options are endless.

Pent - a single surface, the roof slopes down from one side. The highest point of the roof is always the side with the door. (Some pent sheds are also known as lean-to sheds if they are to be used propped up against a building or wall.)

Reverse Pent - exactly the same as above, except the lowest point of the roof is always the side with the door.

Apex - the roof is made from two sides which meet at the highest point along the middle and then slope down away from one another. The highest point always runs from the front (the side with the door) to the back.

Reverse Apex - as above, but the highest point runs from side to side.

Dutch Barn - perfect for larger spaces, these are most commonly seen with the rounded style (gambrel) roof. This allows for more space at head height, and make an attractive addition to gardens as well as the function they provide.

Potting - specialised sheds for potting plants feature an angled side, usually glazed all the way along to ensure as much sunlight can get in as possible.

Corner - designed specifically to fit in corners to help maximise the space you have in your garden, these have wide fronts and angled sides for easy access.

Apex, Pent and Dutch Barn examples

Timber vs Plastic vs Metal


- classic, blend in well in gardens

- can be stained/painted

- long life (especially if made from pressure treated timber)

- can suffer from condensation

- can be at risk of rot/damp


- quick and easy to assemble

- no rotting or rust

- lightweight

- more at risk of weather damage


- fire retardant

- harder to break into

- can suffer from condensation

- can corrode/rust without care or treatment

Off-the-shelf vs bespoke:

A lot of the off-the-shelf and flat pack structures are great for putting up quickly and budget friendly, so are an attractive option. The timber ones are usually made from sawn, untreated softwood which is dipped in a colour stain and may last for a few years but are more susceptible to rot, insect and weather damage.

With bespoke you know you are getting exactly what you want from the beginning, as they are made to your specifications and designed by experienced companies. Timber constructions are far better quality and the timber itself is pressure-treated, making it long-lasting and hard-wearing.

Whatever you decide, The Handyman is here to help!

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