Canadian Woodworking

Bin There, Done That

Author: James Jackson
Illustration: Mike Del Rizzo
Published: April May 2021

This hideaway fence took just a few hours to complete, and hides the view of our ugly trash bins from the road.


For the past few years my better half, Becky, has been asking me to either buy or build a garbage hideaway to help block our trash and recycling bins from view on the driveway.

She was tired of staring at the ugly black garbage bins and over­flowing blue bins every time she pulled up to the house, and I didn’t blame her. The rest of the neighbourhood doesn’t need to see just how much takeout we’ve been getting during the pandemic or the number of ketchup bottles my kids seem capable of consuming on a fairly regular basis.

I decided I couldn’t put it off any longer since I’ve had a lot more spare time on my hands over the past few months, and a few extra bucks in my pocket due to working from home (not buying gas or the occasional lunch really adds up). I started looking at ideas online.

We didn’t want an inexpensive plastic one because I was wor­ried it would eventually wear out and break down, so we opted for wood. Unfortunately, the ones we liked started at around $1,000 and I can say for certain that I don’t buy that much coffee or sand­wiches, so the price became a sticking point for us – especially since we had just paid about $2,500 for a new backyard shed.

It was also around the same time I was demolishing the old shed to make way for the new one when I had what I considered to be a great idea – I’d reuse the wood from the old shed to build the hide­away. The plywood siding would work great for the sides and roof, and the 2 × 4s would be the perfect framing material.

Becky was less enthusiastic with the idea of me building one, especially using decades-old building materials, and she again asked me to just buy one instead.

But I insisted I could do it, and that it would look great when I was finished.

The only problem was just how “overbuilt” the old shed was, which required me to demolish rather than dismantle it. It left me with very little usable building material in the end.

So, I modified my plan. Instead of a fully framed structure with a lid that could open and close, I’d build a wooden fence to act as a visual shield. Becky was a little more on board with the idea of a fence, because it…well…aligned a little more closely with my actual building skills.

I bought eight 10′ long treated deck boards and two 4″ × 4″ posts and got to work. The boards were the perfect length and I only needed to cut the eight-foot long posts in half to make the fence the perfect height.

I tied the posts into the existing fence with deck screws and used these as a frame for the hideaway. It actually took a lot less time than I expected, and I was done in just an afternoon.

And the small 4″ notch I cut into one deck board with my jigsaw to fit around a portion of the existing fence is my favourite little touch. Heck, I even remembered to leave a couple of inches of space at the bottom to help water drain away, and left a 1/4″ space between each board to help them dry.

I opted against making a lid (partially because I worried it would be too heavy and partially because I just didn’t want to) and bought two small motion-activated lights to help guide the way during late-night visits and to hopefully scare away skunks and raccoons.

It was a small project, and one that didn’t take too much time or very many materials, but it’s yet another item off my to-do list. It helped make the house a little more visually appealing, and it buoyed my spirits by getting me away from the computer screen for a few hours to complete another project with my two hands.

Plus, my wife loved it, and I can’t always say that about my other DIY projects at home.

James Jackson - [email protected]

James is a woodworker, a freelance writer, a former newspaper reporter and father to two amazing girls.

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