Garden and balcony

Cellar, a free fridge in your garden

Cellar – once a fairly common garden feature, nowadays somewhat forgotten. At a time when we are increasingly thinking about ecology and saving natural resources, its construction is a great idea!

Garden cellar – what is it and what is it used for?

A garden cellar, otherwise known as earth cellar (or simply a dugout), is a place designed to store vegetables, fruits and preserved throughout the year, thanks to the cool temperature maintained there. At the same time, it is an alternative to traditional cellars. In addition to its functionality, the cellar can also serve as a decorative architectural element – thanks to it the garden or plot takes on a completely new character. The cellar can be more exposed and visible or placed in a less noticeable place, if only behind the house. Another way to hide an earth cellar is to plant plants around it,for example, tall grasses and perennials.

The benefits of having a garden cellar are many. This room makes it possible to store fruits or preserves at a temperature that is favorable for them. A second benefit is that we can opt for a garden cellar at any time of the year, and the room itself does not require expensive installations and connections. The third benefit, of course, is the sheer space in the garden cellars which allows for the storage of a large amount of produce – noticeably more than in a standard pantry.

What can be stored in a garden cellar?

In a garden cellar you can store primarily food products. These are usually vegetables (among others. cebula, potatoes or carrots),fruits (especially apples and pears), homemadepreservesand evenalcohols. The garden cellar allows their safe storage without fear of spoilage. It is also a more environmentally friendly solution compared to a refrigerator or freezer. In a cellar, we can store products actually throughout the years we have access to them whenever we feel like it.

cellar - free fridge

Building a garden cellar

Before starting to build a garden cellar, it is important to remember a few important guidelines. Firstly the floor of the basement should be below the designated ground freezing zone – usually this is ok. 1.5 m.

Does a basement require a building permit?

Under current construction law building a basement usually requires a building permit, although provisions in the law do not specify this aspect precisely, recognizing some dugouts as “objects of small architecture” which do not require a permit. It is therefore worth asking officials what documents must be submitted. In any case, construction should at least be reported to the district administration. A detailed list of documents required for the construction of a basement requiring a permit is specified in the Building Law (Article 33 of the aforementioned Law).

Choosing a garden location

When it comes to choosing the best location for your garden cellar, there are several important factors you should keep in mind. The first (and most important) of these is shading of the room therefore, it is best to plan it in a shady spot. Moreover, the dugout should be located on land that will be as dry as possible; at the same time, you should not place it on a wetland.The entrance to the cellar should be located on the north wall which heats up the slowest.

Related: Growing herbs on the balcony

What materials to use

To make a garden cellar you will need skim concrete (cement sand). In addition, provide insulating materials: first of all, insulating mastic (prevents the appearance of moisture) and polystyrene foam (acts as thermal insulation). From minor damage to the structure, your basement will be protected by thick building film. If you want to arrange shelves or compartments in your cellar for given preserves, you can use boards or boxes to make them. It will also be important reinforcement wire for protection.

How much does it cost to build?

The cost of making a garden cellar depends primarily on its total area which determines the amount of materials purchased and the time spent on labor. Of course, do it yourself will be the cheapest, but in the case of a garden dugout often the optimal solution is to use a ready-made design: then you simply buy a prefabricated cellar in the form of a concrete casting that arrives in your garden on the back of a truck and is then “assembled” in the ground in one afternoon. If you buy a prefabricated cellar, the cost of all the work should be no more than $3 000 (including the excavation for installation).


You can therefore build a garden cellar in two ways: with the help of a construction company and on your own. In either case the first step will be to dig a trench – a backhoe will work best for this purpose. The foundations should be dug in for about 30-40 cm. Then, when the place for the foundations is ready and the footings are braced, you should pour the floor, which should be no more than 15-20 cm thick. You should also additionally protect the floor with foil to protect it from waterlogging.

The next stage involves building the walls. You can build the walls of a home basement in two ways: either laying blocks,joining them with cement mortar, or pouring concrete in formwork. In the latter case, however, you will have to wait 3-4 weeks for the raw material to fully set. It will also be important to have a cellar vestibule that will further protect the stock from temperature changes.

When it comes to ventilation holes it is worth remembering that they should rise about 30-40 cm above the soil layer and be up to 50 cm thick.The stairs should be formed with blocks, using sand bedding, also placing there a displacement masonry that will prevent water from pouring in. Above the stairs and entrance, it will be good to build a canopy to protect them from rainfall and windstorms. The entrance door should be strong and protected with appropriate thermal insulation materials (such as Styrofoam).

Related: Plant for a gift – an orchid!

What to equip a garden cellar with?

Modern garden cellars can be equipped with an electrical connection thereby bringing light to them. There should also be no problem with connecting water, but in this case the cost of making the room may increase. And when it comes to arranging the basement, it is worth betting on homemade recycled materials: in addition to the aforementioned boxes or boards, these can also be old boxes, aged cracked ceramics or furniture waiting for a second life.

Making a home cellar is not difficult but will require a building permit. Then all you need to do inis select a site, excavate and prepare a design – or put up a prepared dugout which you can easily purchase from a local concrete plant. This place will give you access to afree, yet extremely capacious refrigerator located right next to the house. How about you? Do you already have a cellar in your garden? Let us know in the comments below the text!

Interior decorator with 6 years of experience. She loves Scandinavian and Boho style. She loves to spend her evenings on the couch, under a blanket, reading a book with her cat Theodore.

    Leave a Reply