The Neat Freak’s Guide to Organizing Your Outdoor Spaces

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organize outdoor spaces

All of this quality time at home has brought about a huge spike in home organization projects. DIYers have been tidying up their attics, basements, closets and more. If you’ve made your way through your indoor projects, it may be time to tackle outdoor storage and get those spaces in order. Whether it’s a shed, a garage or a simple storage closet, these are some tried-and-true strategies for taming the clutter and getting your outdoor gear ready for action:

As with all organizing jobs, you have to start by identifying what you have. Empty out your storage space and assess all items. Broken, rarely used or duplicate items need to be tossed or given away. Clear away excess cardboard and packaging, and give your space a thorough cleaning once it’s emptied. 

Categorize like with like to help you identify the best way to store items and to make it easier to find tools that might be used together. Common outdoor storage categories include:

  • Gardening supplies and yard maintenance tools
  • Outdoor play & sports equipment
  • Camping gear
  • Seasonal yard decor
  • Hardware and general home maintenance tools
  • Bikes and bike equipment
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Outdoor grill tools/supplies
  • Coolers/picnic supplies

Once your categories are established, create zones of activity within your storage space. Items used in your yard should be stored closest to the door, while those things that are less frequently used can be stored farther in the back or up high. 

Containerize and label bins or boxes for easy retrieval. Invest in quality heavy-duty totes that will allow you to corral like with like. Clear plastic is best so you can see what is inside, but labels can provide that same information. Strong locking lids and heavy gauge plastic are recommended to keep out pests. 

Go vertical whenever possible. Use hanging track systems that allow you to hang rakes, shovels, lawn tools such as blowers and trimmers and any other outdoor tools you frequently access.

Portability is important when it comes to tools you use regularly. A bucket or caddy can be a helpful container for storing small hand-held gardening tools so you can easily carry those around the yard with you.

If there is an outdoor activity your family really enjoys, make space for the equipment needed for that activity so it’s easy to access and package together so you have what you need. The pandemic has made camping one of the most popular family activities for the summer. Camping can also be a pretty gear-intensive endeavor, so containerize necessary items together and label bins. After a trip, invest the time just after you return to go through your gear, shake off the dirt and clean items. Repackage everything so it’s ready to go the next time.

During the summer, your grill may be working overtime. When it’s insanely hot, as it tends to be in July and August, using your grill prevents heating up your kitchen. Consider the tools you need for regular grilling, including charcoal, skewers, tongs and spatulas. Store those items together in a clear bin with a locking lid so they’re ready for action the next time you’re craving something on the grill.

Bikes can be tricky to store. With more families biking together, it’s important to keep them accessible and provide independent access for kids. While fancy hanging/wall storage systems may seem appealing, it’s hard to beat a simple dedicated parking spot for bikes so you can hop on and ride with ease. Simple wall hooks make for ideal helmet storage. 

No matter what type of storage space you have, a little regular maintenance will go a long way. Designate space for each category of items, and make sure you return items to their proper place. Outdoor gear tends to be dirty, so wipe or sweep things down to tidy up your storage area at least once a month.

Despite the many stressors of the global pandemic, there is the upside of more time to spend outdoors, with people you care about, playing and working in your yard or biking around your neighborhood. A little organization will go a long way toward making these activities even more enjoyable.

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Perri Kersh

Perri Kersh is the neatest, and sometimes freakiest, at Chapel Hill-based Neat Freak Professional Organizing, LLC. She works with individuals, families, small business owners and students to help them get and stay organized. When she’s not organizing for others, she frequently shovels up after her husband and children. In 2019, she was elected president of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals. You can read more about Perri on her website,, or reach her at 919-824-8196.
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