A Sheffield man has transformed his garden shed into an eco-system for wildlife – and could win a prestigious national prize for his efforts.
Firefighter George Smallwood, of Spring House Road in Crookes, loves gardening and was looking for a space to pursue his passion while helping the environment.
His ‘eco-shed of efficiency’ includes two beehives, a vegetable patch and wildflower garden on the roof and a ‘bug house’ in the main shed.
George, aged 33, said: “It is practical as much as anything.
“It is only a small garden so I was trying to make maximum use of the space.
“Part of me would love a big garden but I do like a challenge.
“It provides me somewhere to sit, it is good for wildlife and storage – it is a bit of everything really.
George, who has lived in Sheffield for 10 years and is currently engaged to be married, built his shed over the course of two months with a friend.
He was originally going to buy a common or garden flatpack shed for his smallish end-terrace property, but decided to build his own from scratch instead.
Despite George having no previous experience in joinery, carpentry or architecture, the structure survived the winter and the wildlife it is built for clearly love it.
As well as the beehives and the bug house, the shed is also home to a hedgehog and was even briefly visited by a local urban fox.
“I had originally planned to do a grass roof but it is in the sun all day in the summer so it was too good to waste,” said George.
“So I have done it as a combination of vegetables, flowers and the beehives.
“I’ve seen some bees today so they seem to like it.”
George said he thought his creation was ‘finished’ last year but it continues to ‘evolve’ as he thinks of more things he could do with it.
So proud was he of his achievement, that he entered the shed into Channel 4’s Cuprinol Shed of the Year competition.
George’s creation has since been selected as one of the possible winners and he is currently anxiously waiting for the TV company’s call.
“I don’t know if anything will come of it but that is not what it is about,” said George.
“I am on a school run and it is just nice when people comment on it.”
The firefighter says he is known for his projects among work colleagues so his handiwork didn’t come as much of a surprise to his workmates.And he says he gets a lot of support from his fiancee who always describes his efforts as ‘lovely’.
George will be up against a young musician who turned his shed into a studio and a pattern designer who turned hers into extra space for her business.
Last year, the prize was won by Ben Swanborough from Surrey who built a mushroom shaped shed for his daughter complete with stained glass windows and a trapdoor.