The Rise of the Garden Office

As I sit inside my warm office to escape the bitter 20 degree weather (feel-like temp in teens) you may find it difficult to understand why I can't wait to get my outdoor office. I love to be outdoors and since my gardening profession calls for that -- it's a good thing. But just like everyone else, I want the experience to be a little work and a lot of play at the same time. And a garden office is viable according to experts.

"Garden Offices" are huge in Europe and the culture of the non-fluorescent workplace is experiencing a slow but steady new growth in the states. Do a google search for 'garden offices' to see the hundreds of UK links. Many believe that garden offices are the offices of the future both for residential homes and corporate offices. Today, we'll deal with residential.
Generally, garden offices are extension offices for those who are allowed to work remotely from their regular downtown office or for those who already have home offices and want to extend that outdoors during the best outdoor parts of the year. And with the right plant/tree design, that best parts of the year to work in your garden office can be upwards of 8 months a year.

But garden offices aren't necessarily meant to be 8 hour a day offices. Sometimes they're designed to inspire the creative type who needs a change of pace. They're designed for the work at home person that loves to watch their pets or children from time to time while they work away and everyone else plays. They're designed to relieve stress for the lawyer, the doctor, the business executive who wants to be close to family but has work to do. They're designed to be used as an extension of the home office when needing to pay bills, plan the grocery list for the week.
Garden offices range from fancy structures to simple or glorified garden sheds. But with the right planning and design even the lowest of budgets can enjoy a great garden office from their deck or outdoor patio. Closed-in screen patios and sunrooms are not considered garden offices but are definite options.

Before deciding if a garden office is right for you, be aware that there are 3 types of garden offices.

1. The "closed" garden office. This office is always enclosed (note #3) in a small building on your property. This might be a remodeled shed or separate garage with a window air unit and plenty of windows for natural light and view. It has it's own electricity, internet and phone access -- perhaps a small fridge.
2. The "open" garden office. This office is the cozy one on the deck or patio. The walls of this office is your strategically placed landscape. It has quick access to a door if a sudden rainstorm approaches. It may contain an old desk or a simple patio table. It may have a material covering or nothing at all. But shade will be important not only to withstand summer heat, but also to see your computer screen. Go down further to see what you need for a low budget garden office.

3. The final type of garden office is the one that takes the best of both worlds. The versatile garden office has wide doors that swing open (like a barn) or perhaps it's a small commercial electric garage door with large windows built in for viewing your yard when it's closed. A closed garden office can be transformed to an open garden office by rolling the desk out a few feet onto a deck or patio with ease. There are so many ways to create a versatile garden office and not everyone (or most everyone) will be able to afford this option.

Here's what you need for a low budget garden office:
  • Cordless phone, internet phone or a really long chord
  • remote internet access (or really long chord) and laptop
  • An indoor/outdoor desk (or patio table) If the area is covered then the sky is the limit Preferably an old desk with drawers for pens, paper...
  • A dog, cat, bird or all of the forementioned to run around and give you that much needed distraction from time to time

You will also need shade and strategically placed plants/trees/arbors to give your garden office "walls". Just as a good designer will plan your landscape to have "rooms" or unique sections your garden office needs to have that same feel. If it does, you are far more likely to use it on a daily basis.

Even if a garden office is on your list of needs this year, contact us for other great ideas for your lawn and stay tuned to this blog. You can subscribe to this blog below.


Alex said...

If you're interested in garden offices, take a look at my Shedworking and Homeworking site at or email me for a free copy of The Shed, a bimonthly lifestyle pdf magazine for shedworkers (and all those who work in shedlike atmospheres).

Anonymous said...

You are certainly right about the growth in garden offices in the UK. Now in our fifth year Hut Garden Offices and Studios have constructed garden offices for garden designers, record producers, web designers, music mixers, television editors, musicians and academics. When we first started there were about 8 companies working in our field of business, now there must be around 45.

The introduction of 2mb plus broadband in the UK over the last two years has opened out new options for working from home, something that is likely to continue alongside advancing technology to create a real/virtual work enviroment at home.

The majority of our clients have realised that they are now free to complete almost all the tasks they would in a traditional office but from a garden office at home.