This month, we’re dedicating our blog posts to a few of the many ways you can transform your outdoor structure from an empty shell usually meant for storage into something practical. In the last part of this three-part series we’ll talk about keeping chickens.

Today, many families are interested in self-sustaining lifestyles for health, environmental, or economic reasons. You don’t have to live on a farm to reap the benefits of fresh eggs or raising your own poultry.

Adding a chicken coop to your property is a bit easier when you start with a ready-made outdoor structure, such as the sheds offered at Valley Structures. Here are some things to consider:

  • Each chicken will need about 4.5 square feet of space; think about your capacity! You don’t want overcrowding.
  • You’ll want to install roost-shelving/nest boxes to give chickens a place to roost. Many coops use a 2×4 board as a roosting bar.
  • Consider a droppings board, which would be installed under the roosting bar.
  • Chickens can share nests—three nests for every eight chickens is a good rule of measure.
  • Add in vents, windows, and doors. Vents and windows help with air circulation, and a door allows chickens to come out during the day for air and sun.
  • A need for more fresh air – depending on how hot it gets where you live, you might need more ventilation. You could remove one or part of the wall panels, and add in wire mesh.
  • Be sure to account for storage space for buckets, shovels, etc.

Once you have your coop set up, it’s time to get your flock! 

This month, we’re dedicating our blog posts to a few of the many ways you can transform your outdoor structure from an empty shell usually meant for storage into something practical. In the second installation of this three-part series we’ll look at how you can garden or create a potting room with a storage shed.

Backyard sheds aren’t limited to just being used for storing gardening equipment; they also can be a functional space for green thumbs.

Think about what you’ll be using the space for, and then plot out the interior accordingly. Think about your working surface as well as adequate storage space. What kind of potting table best suits you? Think about lighting: will you need to add more windows, and do you want to also install electricity so you can have lamps? What else might you need power for? Will you need wi-fi? And, of course, you’ll want to have a sink, so plumbing is another consideration.

Aside from creating a place for you to work, you can also make your new potting shed a bit of retreat. Add some comfortable seating and décor. Artfully arrange your tools—make good use of the ceilings and walls. What can you hang? What needs a shelf?

Don’t forget about the exterior. How can you paint, trim, or decorate your shed so that it blends in with the landscape? Add some character. Make it part of the art of your backyard!

Like any place where you “put your stuff,” things can quickly get overwhelming and overcrowded. While self-discipline is always needed to put things away where they belong, outfitting your shed with the right organizational tools and storage options will help you keep things in tip-top shape.

First, think about what items you need to store. Do you have a lot of small items? What about tools? How about large items like a mower or tractor? And what about chemicals and other things that should be stowed out of reach from kids and pets? Once you have an idea of your inventory, you’ll be able to decide the best way to organize your shed. (You could take your inventory a step further and get rid of duplicate items, perhaps a yard sale?)

Then, imagine your new space. If you have lots of small items, you might want to install shelves and get bins and baskets. If you have a lot of long-handled yard tools, you’ll want to get some hooks. Here are a few storage ideas to consider:

Hooks on the doors – hang your yard and garden tools (rake, hoes, etc.) on the inside door; this will free up your walls for shelving.

Shelves, shelves and more shelves – install wooden or open-metal shelves along the walls, and feel free to go high as you can (store items not used often on top). An option is to purchase shelving units. Add a variety of heights to allow for different-size items. Peg boards are also a smart organizational option.

Declutter – get some bins to place smaller items in; this will keep your shelves and surfaces neater.

Exterior hooks – don’t forget that you can make use of the outside walls to hang tools—or even decorations.

Finally, head on out and purchase the materials you need, and get to work on installing and reorganizing. And remember—the new design and layout is one thing, but putting things away is another!

One final thing to consider as you plan to organize your shed: a bigger shed to make more room for your items! 

Think of your storage shed or other outdoor structure as an extension of your house. This means keeping it in mind for larger landscaping projects, or using it as the focus for its own design theme. Here are a few things to consider when thinking about landscaping around your structures.


Adding landscaping around the perimeter—or part of the edges—of your shed adds some beauty to your backyard. There are more ideas here than a blog post could possible contain—but consider the flowers and plants that best suit your personality, desired look and the climate in your area. You may also think about planting shrubs, bushes or a tree or too.


Don’t forget that brick and stone can be beautiful AND functional. Consider building a path made of brick or stone.


Aside from plants and stones, consider what else can add to the atmosphere. Trellises (with climbing vines!), birdhouses or birdbaths, benches, sun dials, metal folk art, and more can be nice touches.

Water Features

Small ponds or fountains can add to the ambiance of the area, too.


Whether you want to make the backyard building a part of a larger theme or if you want it to serve as an anchor to a separate project, there are many, many ideas to explore. You’re only limited by your imagination! 

Want to dress up your storage shed? From adding pops of color to finding news uses for your structure, here are a few ways you can upgrade your storage shed.

Give it a Paint Job

It’s seem so simple—just to slap on a new coat of paint. But don’t underestimate the power of color and how it can freshen up your shed and your entire yard. Choose a vibrant shade with a complementary trim color—maybe an accent shade for the doors.

Add Window Dressing

If your shed doesn’t already have shutters, consider adding some. They really can add to the look of your shed! While you’re at it, install some flower boxes and fill with colorful varieties. This literally adds some life to your outdoor structure.

Tack on Décor

A nice shade doesn’t have to be the only thing covering your exterior walls. Consider adding outdoor-safe adornments such as signs, barn stars or other decorative accents. An awning can be a nice touch, too.

Create a Functional Space

Have you ever thought of creating a small sitting area? The side of your shed can become a nice place to relax; just add on a small deck or patio and top with outdoor furniture.

Remodel or Install New Features

A few other ways to upgrade your storage shed including adding vinyl siding, which also adds more protection, or putting in skylights. There are plenty of things you can do to the interior, such as new storage options and other organizational projects. 

Keeping our homes secure is important to our safety and well-being—and protects are personal belongings from theft or damage. We are keen about locking our doors and windows when we’re not home, and, often, invest in security systems. It’s just as important to protect our outbuildings. Here are some tips on how to keep your structures safe and secure, whether a shed, barn, playhouse, animal shelter or gazebo.


Lock Your Doors and Windows

Depending on what you keep in your shed, there could be a pretty penny worth of items inside, from expensive power tools to sports equipment. Make sure you have adequate, working locks on all doors and windows—this means bolted (not screwed) through the door and reinforced with a steel plate. If using padlocks, make sure they are the thicker kind. The ‘key’ part here is to make sure you lock the windows and doors after every use.

Mind Your Windows

In addition to locking your windows, there are a few other things you can do to protect your shed. For instances, make sure the windows are covered so that would-be burglars can’t be tempted by what they see inside. Also, you can install metal grills—or even chicken wire—on the inside of shed windows to prevent thieves from breaking in that way.

Install Outdoor Lighting

Lighting is a huge theft deterrent. Consider installing motion-detector security lights on your outdoor structures. This will spook burglars—and alert your (or neighbors) that something isn’t right.

Put in an Alarm

If you’re really concerned about the safety of your shed, consider installing a security system. There are less expensive alternatives to the high-tech, monitored solutions.


Our outdoor structures are an extension of home—and contain valuable items. We should give their protection the same consideration. 

The pops of color in pristine gardens and the meticulous landscaping you see each spring and summer doesn’t happen overnight—there’s a lot of thought, preparation and hard work that goes into these projects. And it all starts about this time of year.

Here, we’ll provide a few top tips on getting your shed ready for spring, as well as some spring gardening tips.

Get Your Shed Ready

Your shed might sit dormant during the colder months—unless of course that’s also where you keep your snow removal equipment! But, either way, your outdoor structure and the items inside it might need a little TLC after winter:

  • Check for leaks; repair if necessary
  • Clean siding and windows; make necessary repairs/touch-ups
  • Check any hooks, inside or outside; secure/repair/replace if necessary
  • Check around foundation for debris/holes; clean and repair as needed
  • Clean and sharpen your tools; repair and replace items, if necessary

Early-Spring Gardening Tips

While there’s an exhaustive list of tips we could share about getting your garden ready for spring, here are a few that might require immediate attention:

  • Remove winter mulch; clean debris from around plants and trees
  • Clean repair garden structures/features (gates, fences, trellis, birdbaths, etc.)
  • Prune and trim plants and trees
  • Start a compost pile, and start with your debris from spring clean-up efforts
  • Revitalize soil and add mulch
  • Plan what you want to plant; order seeds

Adding power to your outdoor structures, whether a shed, playhouse, gazebo or other features, allows you to enjoy them longer and more fully. Maybe some music will add to the ambience of your backyard entertaining, or perhaps you want to ensure your kids’ clubhouse can be used past dusk.

However, lights, speakers, and other tools and amenities require juice. Depending on your set-up and the distance from your home or other conventional source, getting power to your structure might not be easy or efficient. Instead of digging trenches and running wires, you can consider installing solar panels to your structures rooftop. It’s environmentally friendly, too!

Before you fully consider this option, be sure that enough direct sunlight hits your structure. If it’s a go, then you can decide if you’d want to hire a contractor or solar company to install and wire the panels for you, or if it’s a project you and some friends and relatives can tackle. There are many DIY websites out there with detailed information on how to do this—a web search will reveal plans, kits, materials lists and more to help you get started.

Solar power is a renewable energy source, and if you’re looking to learn more about harnessing that sunshine, starting with a smaller project like a shed our out-building could be a practical and fun place to start. 

Your structures are practical—they store items or provide a sanctuary. But they also add to the look and feel of your property. The weather—rain, ice, sleet, snow and even sun—can damage your structures and whatever is inside them. But you can be proactive protecting your structures from weather damage by considering the following points.


First things first. When you’re installing your structure, you need to consider the floor. We might instantly think of a solid roof when it comes to leak-proofing a building, but moisture can also come from the ground. It’s best if your structure is elevated slightly, perhaps six inches above the earth. Pay attention to the quality of your foundation. If your structure is already up before your experience these moisture issues, you could look into raising it.


Choosing the right pitch for your roof based on the average rain and snowfall of your locale is a good starting point. Flatter roofs don’t last as long as their sloped counterparts in areas that receive a significant amount of heavy snow. Selecting the right roofing material for your climate also plays a role here; maybe a metal roof is a better option, or perhaps shingles will do just fine.

To weatherproof your existing roof, you could install a rubber membrane along the bottom edges. Or you could also upgrade your roof to a more durable material.


You can protect your entire wooden structure—weather it is a shed, garage or gazebo—from the elements by sealing it. Wood absorbs moisture, so using a sealer and/or oil-based paint adds a barrier between your walls and water. Don’t forget interior walls—these can be sealed too. Also, it’s important to note that the sun can also do damage. Consider a sealant or exterior paint that also protects against harmful UV rays.

Remember to routinely inspect your structures for signs of weather damage so you can get to any repairs before major issues arise. By staying one step ahead of Mother Nature, you can keep your structures in tip-top shape. 


Leveling Your Valley Structures Buidling

Leveling your Valley Structures storage building begins as we off load the storage shed onto 4 – 4 x 8 x 16 cap blocks, one at each end of the outside skids.  We then place the level on the floor inside the Valley Structures building. We use a jack, sometimes two jacks, to raise the shed until it is level side to side with the highest of the initial 4 blocks. Using a shovel we level off the spots where we place the blocks at the base of each pier. We use only as many blocks as are necessary to be leveled with the highest point. Next we turn the level to check for front to back leveling and adjust the block in the in the piers as necessary to be sure that the Valley Structures building is level both side to side and front to back.

If you choose to watch us complete this task we suggest you watch the doors of your storage building. You will notice as we work that the doors will rise up and down shifting passed each other. Finally as the job is complete you will see that the doors are perfectly lined up.

The size of your Valley Structure building determines how many points we support. The general “rule of thumb” is for supports to be places every 6’ – 8’ along the outside skids and at the ends of the inside skids. The “rule of thumb” may be altered by how you intend to use the Storage Shed, i.e. as a shop with heavy equipment as opposed to general storage. Just talk to our Valley Structures staff and we will be sure the leveling is done to suit your usage. 2. We use the following types of blocks to level your Valley Structures building: 2”, 3”, and 4” “cap” and 8” open web blocks. We use the 4” cap block at the base of each support pier. We never use an 8” open web as the base block since they tend to sink much more quickly. 3. Once the shed is less the 2” out of level we use Pressure Treated decking and Cedar shims to fine tune the leveling. These materials are used due to their ability to with stand the elements. 





When you think of roofing, a shell of framed timber probably comes to mind. But there’s also an array of hardware involved in supporting your structure’s roof. Ties and hangers are crucial components, usually made of steel, that are made to resist tension. Let’s a take a look at some varieties.

Rafter Ties

Rafter ties hold together the bottoms of opposing roof rafters, and they’re intended to keep the walls from spreading apart.

Joist Hangers

Joist hangers strengthen a load-bearing connection. These components come in many sizes, dictated by the size of the beam. Experts will agree that using the proper nails—and proper amount of nails—affect the integrity of the installation.

Hurricane Ties

Hurricane ties are often required components in homes in areas prone to severe windy weather. If your residential or commercial buildings need hurricane ties, then you should also consider them for your outdoor structures. Hurricane ties, which are nailed to the bottom of a rafter or truss and connect to the wall plate, work to prevent the uplifting of trusses.

Seismic Ties

Like hurricane ties, seismic ties help hold things together—literally—when things shake up. Regions that could be impacted by an earthquake use seismic ties to secure items to walls. For example: machinery, appliances, desks, filing cabinets or shelving.