Forest Garden
The ultimate guide to Garden buildings: Making the right choice: Shed, Log Cabin, Summerhouse or Garden Room?

31st May 2024

Thinking of a new garden building?

With so many choices in garden buildings on the market, choosing the right one for your outdoor space and individual needs can be a tricky decision. A garden building is an extension of your home, a canvas for creativity and a sanctuary of relaxation. Once you have the right indoor-outdoor space, it can be used as anything from a simple store to an extra living room, office or artist’s studio.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll help you explore the many garden-building options available, helping you to decide which is the right decision for you and your budget. From the practicality of sheds to the rustic charm of a log cabin, a relaxing summerhouse or a truly versatile Xtend Garden Room, we’ll help you figure out which outdoor building is right for you.

What type of garden building do you need?

Your decision-making starts with your specific needs. What purpose will your garden building serve?

Are you envisioning a year-round retreat or a space reserved for the warmer months? Perhaps you’re seeking a practical storage solution to tidy up your garden and keep tools and equipment dry. Maybe you need a space to support your love of gardening, somewhere dry to nurture your seedlings and enjoy a cuppa in the midst of your gardening endeavours. Are you hoping to run your business from your outdoor building or perhaps create a studio, games room or gym? Or will your space be a second living room set amongst the picturesque backdrop of your much-loved garden?

Size matters, and you’ll want to carefully consider the footprint within your garden that you’d like to devote to your garden building. Always go as big as you can without overpowering your available space – you’ll be grateful for the bigger space once it’s built. Will the space be used just for you or is it to be a space for the family? If it’s an outdoor office or workshop, will you be sharing it with another person?

Don’t forget to factor in how much you want to spend on your garden building. Whether you are looking for an affordable shed or investing in a multi-functional garden room, setting a budget for the project will guide your choices. But do choose the highest quality of structure you can afford.

Lastly, ponder the environment that you are looking to create within the garden building. Will a sheltered space with a few warm layers suffice in the cooler months or are you looking to heat the building for year-round use? These are important considerations as if you want to heat the space, you’ll want to choose a material that locks that heat in.

Before you start shopping around, think about purpose, size, warmth, budget and the amount of people using the building.

Types of garden buildings

From a simple shed or summerhouse to a rustic log cabin or luxury garden room, let’s dig into all the different types of garden buildings and how they could work for you.

Sheds

Sheds are the most well-known of all garden buildings and have been a staple feature in the garden since ancient times. They provide a versatile and practical solution for storage, from tools, to furniture, bicycles and toys and in recent times have been used for so much more. Our 2023 research showed how sheds are now being used as gyms, art studios and cinemas – they are a true asset to the garden.

Whilst the traditional Apex shed will forever have a place in a garden, the range of shed designs on the market is now extensive. From a compact 4’×3′ shed ideal for efficient storage solutions to an expansive 10’x20′ super-spacious Workshop, the Forest Garden range of sizes certainly accommodates every requirement.

You can choose a traditional apex shed design, a reverse apex where the door is positioned on the sloped roof side of the shed rather than the end, or a pent roof which features one sloping roof.

All sheds are not the same however and it is important that you choose yours carefully particularly if you want to use it to store more than just a spade. The wrong type of shed will not protect your precious tools and belongings, so you need to purchase one that is truly weatherproof and capable of offering year-round protection. We’ve seen it time and time again in our industry, low-cost leaky sheds that have a limited lifespan and result in mouldy and damp belongings.

Interlocking tongue & groove boards are ideal for wind and rain protection. And the more you want to use your shed for, the better quality materials are recommended.  If it’s all-year-round weatherproof storage that you need, a Beckwood shed will do the job perfectly.

Log cabins

Log cabins are the natural choice for creating a rustic retreat in your garden. These traditional wooden buildings are sturdy, look great and will give you the space and freedom to enjoy the outdoors. They provide a warm and inviting space for relaxation, contemplation, or a guest retreat.

Unlike sheds, log cabins are not usually used for storage. They are most often used as cosy retreats, workspaces and studios.  They come in lots of shapes and sizes and are a cost-effective way of giving you more living space.

The smallest of our range is 3 x 2 metres and the largest is 6 x 4 metres. Each log cabin is constructed with precision-engineered kiln-dried logs manufactured with chalet-cut corners and 6-sided joints to reinforce stability against the UK’s wind and rain. They are sturdy garden buildings.

Back to the question of how you will be using your log cabin, as this will affect your decision about which one to buy. A cabin built with thicker logs for example will be more robust and better insulated making it ideal as a home office.  Forest Garden Log Cabins are made in various log thicknesses 28mm, 34mm and 45mm.

Summerhouses provide the perfect space for relaxation and are most often installed with this as the primary purpose. An outdoor living room to enjoy the garden from. Summerhouse Interiors is a thing. We love seeing how our customers style their Summerhouses.

Summerhouses are cost-effective garden living rooms that feature long windows so that the interiors are filled with light.

Forest Garden Summerhouses are well built, with pressure-treated timber, giving them a long 25-year guarantee against rot and fungal damage. Your space will remain dry and cosy but do keep in mind that Summerhouses are designed for the warmer months and whilst you can use them year-round, they will not retain heat as well as a log cabin or Xtend garden building. If you want a permanent year-round outdoor living room, our recommendation would be for a log cabin or Xtend.

Choose your size from a 6x4m to a 8x8m, decide upon a Pent roof (one single sloping roof) or Apex roof (traditional pointed roof) and your final decision will be whether to have veranda.

Garden Buildings/Office

The ultimate choice in garden buildings must be a purpose-built garden building such as our Xtend range. We call them Xtend, as these are outdoor buildings that truly expand your living space. They are well insulated and as energy efficient as a new-build home, meaning that if you’re looking for a year-round working solution you’ve found your answer.

An Xtend garden building is constructed from high-quality, energy-efficient materials and is underwritten with a 15-year structural guarantee. Built with modular high-performance SIP (Structural Insulated Panels) panels, the design creates highly efficient insulated walls, roof and floor and with double-glazed windows, you’re all set to keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Choosing the Right Garden Building Design

When it comes to selecting the perfect garden building, aesthetics plays a crucial role,

Match the building to your garden style.

🌱For a classic garden look, consider structures with timeless designs, such as pitched Apex roofs and a natural timber finish.

🌱If your garden embraces a more modern and contemporary aesthetic, opt for sleek lines, maybe a pent roof and choose a neutral colour palette for your timber paint.

🌱For a cosy, rustic feel, log cabins with natural wood finishes are an excellent choice.

Installation and maintenance

Dependant on your budget and DIY skills you may favour a self-build or professional installation for your garden building. The Forest Garden range of sheds, summerhouses, log cabins and Xtend Garden Buildings can all be purchased with self build home delivery accompanied by a step-by-step guide or professional installation by the Forest Garden team.

Whichever you choose, base preparation is key. The right foundations will make for an easy assembly and ensure your structure lasts for years to come. In most cases, a suitable base is a timber, concrete, concrete slabs or a Pro Shed Base. Check out our guide to preparing the base:

https://www.forestgarden.co.uk/help-support/preparing-your-garden/sheds-storage-summerhouses/

Will I need Planning permission?

The size of our garden buildings often conform to local planning regulations in terms of height and size however we would always advise a customer to check their local planning authority website as certain areas such as conservation areas may have different restrictions.

Find your ideal garden building

As you research and select your ideal garden building, remember that it’s not all about adding a structure to your outdoor space; it’s about creating a haven that reflects your style, meets your needs, and enhances the beauty of your garden. Whether you’re drawn to the charm of a wooden shed for storage, the rustic design of a log cabin, or the contemporary elegance a Xtend Garden Room, Forest Garden offers a diverse range of quality options.

For a wide range of garden buildings including weather-beating sheds, summerhouses, log cabins and Xtend garden rooms, head to our dedicated garden buildings page. https://www.forestgarden.co.uk/product-categories/garden-buildings/