Back Yard Project: From Play Set to Potting Shed

First, The best perspective…

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Here we are in the midst of a particularly cold and wintery stretch here in the Rochester metro area, but we can begin to look ahead to the spring. It seems like such a long way off, but surely warmer days are ahead, so it’s fitting to take some time to begin thinking about the gardens and other outdoor projects that we look forward to with real anticipation. Today, I thought I would share a project that Dee and I have been working on for the last couple of years. Maybe it will spark some creative thinking at your home…

When our son Brandon was five, Dee and I decided it was time to purchase a play set for the back yard. We looked at a few advertisements and visited a few stores, ultimately settling on a two-story pirate fort made of pressure treated lumber. The fort looked great and seemed to have everything our son could possibly desire. There was a pirate net and a ladder that allowed access to the second level. It also included a climbing rope, swing, and monkey bars. The fort was bright, colorful, built for fun, and it even enhanced the look of our back yard. Surely there would be plenty of enjoyment and adventure for Brandon and his friends in the years ahead!

Brandon’s pirate fort play set – soon after completion in 1994
Click on Photos to Enlarge

Well, time passed and Brandon grew older. School responsibilities became the priority and then he became interested in soccer, which required many hours of time, especially in the summer months when the play set would have been used. Eventually the old fort fell into disuse, standing strong but hardly noticed. Years went by and when Brandon enrolled in college I considered dismantling the fort and removing it, but there was no easy way to dispose of the materials. The best I could hope for is that grandchildren might one day play on their dad’s pirate fort – but that would be many years in the future.

Then one day I had an idea – sometimes it takes a few years to figure things out. Dee loves to garden, both flowers and vegetables. Why couldn’t the pirate fort be re-purposed into something more useful? So the idea began to take shape and eventually the work began. There was about to be a very big change… from Play Set to Potting Shed!

First steps in the project – can you see the hidden Jeff Michaels?

First, I removed the monkey bars, pirate ladder and other extensions from the old fort, leaving just the main framework. Next, I had to jack up the back several inches to make everything as level as possible. Additional lumber was added on all four sides to create a smooth and even surface that was ready to receive siding.

Roof and initial supporting framework complete

The next steps included a roof, windows and doors. Then the finish work… trim pieces carefully nailed in place to prevent water damage, followed by caulking, priming, and painting. Later, the brick floor was installed, along with a work bench, built-in shelves, and a peg board for hand tools. The upper floor is used for storage.

Brick floor – looked great and provided a good base to keep tools dry

First floor work space for small tasks

Completed first floor work space, shelves, storage for tools and supplies

Second floor storage area – very useful

The final touch – addition of a wind vane

So, here it is! Twenty years after the initial purchase and construction, a repurposed building . From Play Set to Potting Shed! What was once a place of childhood adventure is now a relaxing and peaceful haven – a place to meditate and focus on God’s creation.

Completed potting shed and flower garden – summer 2014

The gardens continue to expand, especially in the back of the potting shed and vegetable gardens are out of sight to the left. Decorations and layout designed by Dee. Flowers designed by the Creator.



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© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2015

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