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A dog on grass in a backyard with trees along the edges

Bins, clotheslines and sheds are all a fact of life, but shouldn’t be the star feature of a garden - follow our guide to keeping the mess at bay.


Outdoor design

Gardens and outdoor areas are key parts of the home: we spend time in them, play in them and use them, whether as a storage area for the bins or as a place to line-dry clothes. Like any area in the home, clever solutions are the key to making the most of your space. 

Include a shed

Most homes have enough work and play essentials (sports equipment, garden tools, pool gear, etc.) to fill a sizeable garden shed. However, beware of going too big; the shed should sit comfortably in the space rather than dominating it, so make sure it suits the size of the yard.

Also, choose one that works with the style and colour of the home’s exterior features; a shed with timber or paintable resin walls, for example, can be painted to match your home’s overall colour scheme, or to blend with the fence. Landscape designer Adam Robinson of Adam Robinson Design  suggests painting sheds in dark colours, to better blend in with the garden.

If a shed isn’t an option, integrated storage such as within bench seating can be a great way to store clutter out of sight. Unless you can include a watertight container, however, storage benches are best suited to items that can weather the elements, such as pool toys and garden hoses, rather than outdoor soft furnishings such as seat cushions.

Washday essentials

A clothesline is the most economical (and sustainable) way to dry clothes, but they can be a it of an eyesore. Look for line's designed in popular colours (Austral’s lines, for example) so they can better blend into the fence.

Retractable lines can be wound away, and newer versions of the rotary clothesline are able to be taken down and removed from a ground socket until they’re needed again. A fold-down line attaches to a wall and collapses when not in use, but it’s still a bulky bit of hardware. In this case, the key is to distract the eye: try a green wall, decorative screen or a similar statement feature next to the line or on an adjacent wall.

Another alternative is to make your own. “You can create a custom clothesline with recycled railway sleepers and stainless steel wiring,” landscape designer Adam Robinson says. Choose materials that echo those used elsewhere in the garden, so the line will blend in when not in use, (Safety tip:, position clotheslines away from thoroughfares to avoid running into them.)

 A fire pit and 2 outdoor chairs in a backyard

Hiding the bins

Although they need to be accessible, bins don’t need to be visible. Bin housing is an obvious solution and, while a custom-built box is an option, many low sheds are also suited to this purpose. Ideally it should fit seamlessly into the garden scheme, perhaps painted to match the home’s exterior. Ventilation is key. “Bins are best hidden in an open storage structure – semi-open so they don’t smell,” says Adam. If your bin-disguising solution is a flat-pack shed, ensure it has vents, while custom housing should be built with slatted timber or a similar material that allows airflow.

A rubbish bin in a cupboard outside

Incorporate screens

Sometimes there’s no way to disguise the bins, or other unsightly structures, and this is where screens can be invaluable. “Work out if you want your screen to be a feature or if you want it to be discreet,” says Adam. “If you want it hidden away, paint it the same colour as other parts of the garden, or use natural timber and allow it to age. If you want it to be a feature, use a different texture or direction of timbers.”


A screen doesn’t need to be a solid wall. Laser cut patterned screens allow a glimpse of what’s beyond – a great idea to enhance the sense of space in a small garden – while disguising it. Trellis or even hedges can be used to similar effect, while softening the scheme with an added touch of green.

Customisation is the key

For truly discreet storage, create your own using the same materials as existing outdoor features. Check out our guide on how to make a DIY outdoor storage bench.


Photo Credit: GAP Photos/Clive Nichols and Cath Muscat

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