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Anyone with a garden knows that storing things in it is a bit of a battle, especially if the things you want to store are not meant to be kept outside so that the weather can get to them, such as garden tools, garden furniture and even bikes. To store such items you have to go out and spend a little money on a garden shed, costing a few hundred quid. But, as anyone with a shed will confirm, before too long it fills up with things that you don't want to throw away as 'they may come in handy someday'. So you have to go out and by more storage for the ever growing garden accessories that are making it harder for you to close that shed door every time you put your garden spade away. But you don't want to buy another wooden shed because it will take up too much room in your garden and you can't afford to spend nearly three hundred pounds anyway. So you decide to shop around for a cheaper garden storage unit which, whilst capable of holding your garden equipment, protecting them from the elements, it won't dent your wallet and won't take up all your garden. This is what happened to me and was the reason why I had to go out and find a storage unit which was useful, a good size and weather resistant so as to stop the rain getting at what ever I put inside it. It was during my hunt for such a garden storage unit that I came across a rather neat looking one which ticked all the required boxes, so I went ahead and bought it. The particular garden storage unit I am referring to is the 'store-it-out' from the well known company called Keter. NOTE: Before I begin I will have to tell you that this, as with many storage unit of this kind, come in a flat pack design and have to be assembled at home, but, if you follow the instructions carefully, this is easy to do and takes about 30 minutes to do so, even less if you can get a friend to help. To construct this you will need a cross headed screwdriver and a wooden/rubber mallet would be helpful for those stubborn parts. ** WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE..? It is made of a UV-resistant plastic, called Polypropylene resin and is mainly a dark crème/grey in colour, with the top section, including the lid, being a dark green, whilst the base is black. It is approximately 1485mm wide by 840mm deep by 1110mm high on the outside, whilst being 1360mm wide by 675mm deep by 1030mm high on the inside, with a cubic capacity of 0.9m3 (32 cu-ft), and weighs approximately 28 KG. ** MY OPINION... This is very similar in colour to the other 'plastic' storage containers I have in my garden so it fits in well. The two doors open wide enough to gain full access to the inside, plus it has a lid that can be lifted to give easier access all round. As I said earlier, putting it together is simple, with all the panels slotting into position being held in place with several screws, making it quite a sturdy unit indeed. The two doors don't have metal hinges so there is no danger of rusting, the doors simply slot onto the moulded hinge pins which are attached to the side panels, although the lid does have a metal hinge but this seems to be well protected from the elements so it should last a few wet seasons. The lid, when open, is supported by two 'rods' supports which seem to be quite sturdy but, as passed experiences with similar units, these 'rods' supports can be damaged sot the lid has to be held up by other means, such as a brush handle. When the lid is closed it is at an angle, allowing any rain water to simply roll off onto the ground. And for security the lid and doors are lockable using a padlock, (sold separately of course), so you can keep any tools away from the kids as they play happily in the garden. Although I wouldn't put anything too valuable inside this container as the catch for the padlock is made of plastic and can be cut through quite easily by a determined thief. It is ideally located on level ground so that the frame stays intact and the entire unit doesn't wobble when opening and closing doors, but this is the general rule for all items of this kind. As for what you can store inside this container, well, this is up to the individual person but in mine, at the moment, I have a rake, a hoe, a spade, three bags of building sand, a bucket, an assortment of building tools inside a flexible bucket and several pairs of Wellington boots. And even with all this in it there is still plenty of room for more. Sadly though there are no built in shelves inside this unit and there are no 'slots' to attach any too, so the contents are either lying on the base or on top of each other. But, there are ways to add little shelving units inside if you want too. In all, another cracking storage idea from Keter so that you can stop throwing away your things, thus keeping the landfills empty, thus helping to save the planet... (that's why I tell the wife why I don't like to throw my things away anyway). It's a good size and holds quite a bit of stuff, plus, due to the way the doors and lid open, getting access to the contents is as easy as reaching out your hands So if you're interested in gaining more storage then you may want to know how much this unit will cost, I got mine for £120, which was a good deal as, after a bit of a search on the internet, I found that it sells for around the £150 region
The alternative answer to that question is ....penicillin. Much as I hate gardening, an animosity which isn't helped by the bloody thing being 150' long, I have had to give in and accept that to prevent nature taking over, a good deal of weapons-grade hardware is needed to keep it from doing so. This includes a brace of petrol motor mowers (don't even ask), a compactor, an electric chain saw, a Flymo Garden Vacuum (it sucks, or rather, it doesn't!) a strimmer and a hedge trimmer. Combine this with the need to find a winter home for the likes of the barbecue's gas bottle, car ramps, axle stands, a trolley jack, a pressure-washer and a short step ladder, and you'll see why my shed, which was always pencilled in to be a 'proper' workshop has become rather untidy of late. I started acquiring Keter products a few years back, firstly in a small way with a chest of 'blanket box' proportions, ostensibly designed to house the upholstery to patio furniture when not in use. Whilst no longer in its first flush of youth, this is now doing sterling service in our front garden housing the burgeoning population of different coloured bags that L B Hounslow now expects me to keep in front of my house to do their primary recycling work for them. It certainly seems to have withstood the ravages of time for the most part, although the rubber retaining straps designed to stop the lid opening too far have long since perished and it may not look as green as it used to. In its exposed position it also has a tendency to blow open and even blow away. These two traits have been cured with:- a) A bulldog clip to hold the lid closed with a prop to hold it open when I want it to be and b) Two of the cheapest small paving slabs that Wickes could muster placed inside to prevent it blowing over completely. Impressed by the usefulness of the Keter range, a while later I ventured to buy a larger storage unit to take an overflow of 'kit' displaced from one of my sheds by my growing collection of bikes (now six in number). This was much larger, with two large opening front doors and a large top with 'bonnet lid' props to make accessing the contents as easy as possible. If I recall, when I bought this about 3 years ago, it cost me around £100, so it was with something slight disappointment that I discovered its nearest equivalent was now £120 in cost. Not that there was anything wrong with its predecessor, it's just that I wanted yet more storage! However, I was rather pleased, on leaving Homebase (in fact I'm always pleased to be leaving Homebase!) to find that I'd been charged £100 for the Store-It-Out XL, a 1.3 cu meter storage box of similar proportions to the one I already had. Thanks to some rather bulky packaging, I had to garner the help of a friend with a roof rack, since it was too wide even to fit in his estate car. I do seem to recall having to unpack the previous one to make it fit in a hatchback! This did, however, have the advantage of making Homebase dispose of the huge amounts of blown foam packaging and enough polythene to suffocate The Old Lady Who Lived in a Shoe's entire brood! On arriving home, we also found that it's a two-person job to shift it to its assembly location. It makes sense to have this prepared already. These storage bins are largely plastic in construction and whilst quite secure and weather-proof, do not have the built-in rigidity to overcome being stood on rough ground without the doors becoming a very poor fit. In my case, the older box was shifted to the rear of the house to sit on decking, so that the new one could be stood on a concrete base in the sideway. IT ALL COMES TOGETHER Unlike a full-blown shed, you can put one of these together alone - that's after you've struggled to unpack it. Anyone familiar with putting together an IKEA "FULOJUNK" cupboard or "KRAPPA" toilet seat will be at home with one of these. They don't however throw in any free tools, but the instructions are quite explicit as to what you'll need, in this case, a cross-point (Phillips) screwdriver. You do have to do quite a lot of screwing, so if you have a power driver, bring it to the party. I also found a hammer quite handy, as some of the supposedly 'push-fit' parts need threatening with physical violence or maybe it's a mistake to put one of these together in winter. Following the numbered diagrams was easy enough, and each stage tells you in advance as to how many and of what size screws are going to be needed. I'm happy to report that there were no inaccurate 'fits', and all holes came to where they should be. The trickiest bit for me being a 'vari-focals' wearer was the fitting of the final padlock hasp, which holds the lid and two doors together. This had to be done from inside the box looking up at something close, always a challenge with these glasses, especially with daylight pouring in against my line of sight. It might actually be better to fit the hasp before adding the lid to its main hinges - that way it can be laid on its back whilst the recalcitrant hasp is coaxed into position! For strength and as a departure from its predecessor, metal parts do now feature in areas where their strength is needed, for example, across the front to support the four flooring sections as the user is quite likely to step on this threshold. Likewise, the rear plate has a metal ferule to give the otherwise floppy panel a degree of rigidity, and finally, the hinges for the lid have now been beefed up with substantial steel ones. Oh yes, and there's a metal 'bonnet-lid prop'. Incidentally, you have to get your own padlock. I was a little surprised to find that the hinges for the doors were plastic - sturdy nonetheless, but it wouldn't take long with a power tool to render the padlock useless by bypassing it and cutting the doors off. Then again, anyone turning up with tools could most likely get in any shed, plastic or wood. Unlike its predecessor, there were no internal fittings; for example brackets for hanging things on. To be honest, I never found these to be awfully useful anyway. The mains lead of anything hung there always seemed to manage to tangle itself with another appliance anyway. Having now got two boxes of about the same size, I'm able to separate out garden appliances from cycling and motoring hardware. Incidentally, neither box will take an adult-sized bike, although a stack of four patio-chairs just about fits under the rear of the lid, there being a downward slope for drainage reasons. DURABILITY This is always where a review of something you've just bought falls down - usually. What we really want to know is how one of these fares outdoors after years in an urban environment. Well, if the older boxes are anything to go by, pretty well. The original 'blanket box' is still intact, ten years down the line, if a little faded! Likewise my other larger door-fronted box is only a bit fainter than it used to be, and maybe its cream panels have yellowed a bit, but you'd only know this if placed side by side with a new one. I really can't comment on the security aspects of what is in effect a midget's shed - suffice it to say there's been no suggestion of an attempted break-in to any of them. WORTH IT? Well it all depends where you're coming from. You might think that this is a lot of trouble to create more storage when another shed would do, but bear in mind that 'outbuildings' could end up costing you more, should the long-threatened Council Tax review ever take place. I think the smart money's on no-one getting a reduction! Then of course there's the old maxim I just thought of, which goes something like "Adding Storage Is Immediately Justified by Filling It on Day One". Just look at how The Big Yellow Box Company seems to have bought up every spare bus garage in the land. Of course, I could always get rid of something or someone.