How to maintain garden structures

Sheds, fences, pergolas, arbours, trellises and even playhouses are all great things to have in a garden. But the wind, rain, snow and sunshine all take their toll and what looked like a shiny new addition to your garden can end up looking worn out and dilapidated if you don’t maintain it.

Maintaining garden structures is a necessary chore. Any gardener who has ever ripped out a decrepit old fence or shed will think wistfully that it would have been far easier and cheaper to maintain it properly.

Looking after your garden structures

Garden Sheds

Wooden, metal and plastic garden sheds all have different requirements for maintenance.

Wooden sheds take the most work as you need to prevent wood rot. Dip-treated wood requires a fresh coat of wood treatment preservative once a year. If your shed is made from pressure-treated wood, then wood preservative has been worked into the centre of the timber during manufacturing so it can last for years, but you should still consider regular coats of preservative to be on the safe side.

The roof of a wooden shed is usually covered in roofing felt. Check this every year to make sure there are no holes or rips. If you find one, you need to replace that section, which is easily done with some new mineral felt, a hammer and some nails.

If you’re about to replace your garden shed, consider the location – make sure it’s not underneath any trees to avoid damage from falling branches. And make sure the base is stable as this is vital for preventing moisture from rising through the soil into the structure.

Metal sheds are usually made from aluminium or steel which is covered in paint to prevent rust. Wash your shed with soapy water regularly. It doesn’t need fresh paint every year – just check for scratches and examine any areas where water collects to make sure there’s no damage or missing paint.

Condensation can be a problem for metal sheds as the cold walls can draw moisture from the warm air. You can combat this by putting a layer of polystyrene against the walls.

Plastic sheds take very little effort to maintain – just give it a wash with some soapy water every so often and check the panels to make sure they aren’t damaged.

Garden fences

Wooden fences require a similar level of maintenance as wooden sheds. Try to make sure you treat the fence panels and posts with some wood preservative, roughly once a year.

It’s important to inspect the fence posts as well – try moving it around to see if it has come loose. It needs to be solid to support the weight of the fence panels, so if it wiggles you can use postcrete to fill any gaps.

Also, take a look at any plants or trees that might have grown so that they are putting a strain on the fencing – make sure you prune back anything that’s heavy and might cause damage.

Trellises, pergolas and arbours

These are easily forgotten but it’s a good idea to put another coat of stain on your smaller wooden structures every year. It’s best to do this on a dry winter’s day so that you don’t have to navigate through trailing plants in full bloom. This is the time when you’ll be thanking yourself for making sure that there’s plenty of space around your arbour and pergola for you to get access to all of it.

Metal trellises and arches are much easier to maintain – they simply need to be cleaned and inspected for flaky paint, which can just be touched up.

Remember when building any sort of garden structure that it’s very useful to have space to work around it so that you can inspect all the panels and also fix any problems that might arise.

Check out more useful maintenance tips