Outdoor organizing can be a daunting prospect—after all, tackling an entire garage or shed seems much more overwhelming than a closet or file cabinet.
However, committing to reworking your outdoor storage can do wonders for your whole home. With proper organization, your things will last longer, be easier to find.
“Your space doesn’t stop at the back door,” says Mary Ann Ferraguto of SHED Organizing Services in Alexandria, Virginia. “Seeing your outdoor space as an extension of your home can help you create beautiful, and serviceable, spaces outside as well as inside.”;
How Can I Start Getting My Outdoor Items Organized?
First off, try to avoid the “out(side) of sight, out of mind”; mantra. While you see your indoor storage systems in action daily, it can be all too easy to stash everything (and then some) in an outdoor space just to get it out of the way.
Just like a wardrobe or kid’s room, a good cleanse and evaluation is key to getting outdoor organization started. Once you lay everything out, the first phase of work can begin.
When Ferraguto works with clients that have a garage or shed, she starts by unloading all of the stuff onto the lawn or driveway, noting that more often than not, “there’s stuff no one has touched in years.”;
Outdoor space can be very valuable real estate, especially if you’re living in a townhome or condo, she said.
“People think they’re storing in the garage, but what they’re really doing is just shoving stuff out there and it becomes a dumping ground,”; Ferraguto said. “Once you take everything out, it’s important to be very intentional about what you put back in.”;
If you’re ready to have those unwanted items earn you some extra cash, check out our tips for the best garage sale ever.
What’s the Best Way to Organize Outdoor Storage Items?
When you’ve finished your cull, it’s time to get strategic.
“The best way to organize outdoor storage (and more importantly, keep it organized!), is to think in zones of activity,”; advises Perri Kersh, the expert behind Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s Neat Freak.
There are plenty of things Kersh said we need to store for the outdoors: lawn equipment, gardening supplies, outdoor entertainment supplies, sports equipment, car wash/maintenance equipment, camping gear, holiday decor…the list goes on!
“To create a solid organizational system that will last, group like items together on shelves or in bins,”; she said.
Keeping like items together can also help you when you need to rotate seasonally, or access everything you need for an event, holiday or summer trip. (For more on seasonal storage, we’ve got you covered on our blog).
How Should I Store Items Outdoors?
Solid shelving systems aren’t just useful inside your home, they can also make outdoor organization in a garage or shed way more functional. Ferraguto prefers to purchase a new set of identical shelving units for consistency, ease of access and aesthetic purposes.
Wall-mounted shelving units can keep things off the floor and away from pests, mold and damp floors, and they make things easier to see and grab quickly.
When dealing with outdoor storage, you’ll want to save the classic cardboard box for another purpose. Temperature, weather and critters all pose a threat to cardboard, so opt for metal or plastic bins with solid lids.
Clear containers make it easy to spot what you’re looking for (so you don’t end up knee-deep in holiday decorations when you’re looking for extra golf balls). If you get metal or a more opaque plastic, don’t skimp on taking the time to affix labels to your boxes. You’ll thank yourself later.
Hanging organizers and pegboards will make smaller items like tools easily accessible.
What shouldn’t be stored outside?
While there are some obvious indoor items (delicate clothing, documents) and outdoor items (lawnmowers, sports gear), don’t get caught up in the gray area. According to Kersh, food storage, even canned goods, should always be kept inside for the best shelf life.
“You definitely shouldn’t store items that will attract pests,”; Kersh cautions. “Pet food is a definite garage or shed no-no—unless you have a heavy-duty metal container with a tight locking lid, expect pests to find it and enjoy a never-ending buffet!”;
Kersh adds that “Paint should also be stored in a garage only if it’s temperature controlled. Otherwise, it won’t be in good condition when you go to use it. And for safety reasons, it’s best not to store propane tanks, oily rags or other potentially flammable or hazardous materials in your garage.”;
If you do have a propane tank or grill to store, we’ve got some tips for that on our blog.
Other items to avoid stowing outdoors include electronics, photographs, family heirlooms, paper goods and musical instruments.
For security purposes, big-ticket items shouldn’t be stored outside either.
Regardless of what you’re storing, it’s important to invest in a good lock to keep everything exactly where you want it once you’ve gotten it organized.