After a year of doing DIY projects in a cramped garage that smelled like trash, we decided it was time to kick the garbage cans outside. Between a strict HOA and a desire to not stare at the ugly trash cans, we decided to build a simple garbage can enclosure.
This DIY trash can enclosure has room for both a trash can and recycling can, it’s permanently installed so you don’t have to worry about it blowing away, and it has an open top so that you can add trash without opening the door.
You can knock it out in a weekend and finally hide your trash cans once and for all!
The final exterior measurements of our trash enclosure were approximately 73.25” deep, 34.5” wide, and 51.5” tall. The interior measurements (aka the area you can actually use to store your garbage cans) were approximately 69.5” deep and 31.75” wide.
Our trash and recycling cans are each approximately 28” wide x 31.5” deep x 69.5” high. If yours are larger, you might need to adjust the measurements accordingly.
Alright, let’s start DIYing.
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- Miter saw
- Kreg Jig
- Nail gun
What You’ll Need:
- (2) 4x4x8s
- (9) 2x4x8s
- (3) 1x4x8
- (17) 1x6x8s (your quantities might change based on the dimensions of your trash enclosure)
- 1.25” exterior wood screws
- 2.5” exterior wood screws
- 2.5” exterior Kreg screws
- 1.5” nails
- Exterior wood glue
- Gate latch
- 3.5” gate hinges
- Quick-crete fast setting concrete
- Optional: pavers (we used 8 10×10 pavers)
- Optional: sand
Note: we used pressure-treated wood on this project so that it would better hold up outside. Make sure to wear a mask when cutting your wood!
How to Build a Garbage Can Enclose to Hide Your Trash Cans
STEP 1: CLEAR A SPOT FOR YOUR TRASH ENCLOSURE
If you have an HOA, make sure to check the guidelines and get the necessary approval before beginning any exterior project. For ours, the structure was supposed to “blend into the house” so we opted to paint it the same color as the rest of the house.
Once you have the green light, you can clear a spot for your trash enclosure. For us that meant removing a few brushes and some mulch.
You might also want to call 811 to mark for any utilities that might be lurking around where you want to install your enclosure.
STEP 2: ADD PAVERS
If you want your trash cans to have a nice solid ground to sit on so that the wheels don’t get covered in mud, you can add some pavers or rocks to the bottom where your enclosure will be.
We dug a hole that was slightly larger and deeper than our pavers. Once installed, we wanted the pavers to be flush with the surrounding ground.
Once we had the hole dug, we patted down the dirt so that it was compacted. Then we added a layer of sand that we had leftover from our DIY patio project.
Then we laid 6 of the 8 pavers in the ground. We left out the two outside corner pavers until after we finished installing the 4×4 posts to avoid getting concrete on them.
STEP 3: CEMENT IN 4×4 POSTS
Cut your 4x4s down to approximately 81”.
Then start by digging two holes for the outside legs of your trash enclosure. The holes should be about 8-12” wide and 30” deep. If you live in an area that gets pretty cold in the winter, you might want to check your local code. You’ll want the hole to be below the frost line.
The total depth of our trash enclosure was approximately 73.25”, which means the total distance between the two legs of our enclosure was 66.25” once installed.
Check the instructions on your concrete bag to see if you need to pre-mix the concrete. For the type we got, we were able to just pour the concrete mix into the hole and then add water.
Once you get the posts positioned, ensure each post is level and straight before letting the concrete dry. It’s really important to take the time to make sure they are really level and that the distance between the two posts is consistent from top to bottom.
You’ll also want to double-check the height of the posts to make sure they are sticking out the same amount. Our posts were approximately 50.75” above ground. You don’t want your posts to be much (or any) shorter than this otherwise you’ll run into issues with your 1x6s sitting directly on the ground and potentially needing to dig down deeper to get your 1x6s to all fit.
Let the concrete dry for the time specified on the quick-crete bag. Ours was about 40 minutes.
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE THE SIDE
Now that you know the distance between your posts, you can assemble the side. First, cut your 1x6s to size. Each of your 1×6 slats should be the same measurement as the distance between the two legs you placed in step 3. We used a total of 9 slats on the side of our garbage can enclosure.
Next cut (5) 2x4s to be 49.5”. Err on the side of cutting your pieces smaller than 49.5” rather than larger.
Using the 1.5” settings, drill pocket holes every 6-8” along one side of all but one of the 2x4s.
Optional: draw a line (we used chalk) 1.5” from both ends of your 1x6s. This will give you a guideline on where to place your screws so that they are all lined up.
Place (2) 2x4s on the ground with the pocket holes facing down so that they aren’t visible. Also, make sure that the pocket holes are facing out so that you can drill through them to attach the side panel to the 4×4 posts in the next step.
Place your 1×6 slats on top of the 2x4s so that the ends of the 1x6s are lined up with the ends of the 2x4s. The top of the first 1×6 should also be in line with the top of the 2x4s.
Secure the 1x6s to the 2x4s using glue and 1.25” exterior wood screws. Add 4 screws total, two on each end, to each 1×6.
Next, place the 2×4 (the one that you did not drill pocket holes into) in the middle of the panel. Attach with glue and 1.25” exterior wood screws.
STEP 5: SECURE SIDE TO 4×4 POSTS
Using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws, secure the side panel to the 4×4 posts. You can choose to indent your side panel if you want to–we indented ours approximately a ½” from the outside of the legs.
The top of the side panel should be flush with the top of the 4×4 posts.
You can use clamps to hold the 2x4s to the 4×4 posts while you screw them in.
STEP 6: ATTACH POSTS TO THE HOUSE
Now that the side is installed, cut (2) 2x4s to the same height that your 4×4 posts stick out from the ground. These will be used as the posts that will attach to the side of the house.
Figure out the location of these 2x4s. They should be right in line with the front and back 4×4 legs and they need to be straight when installed.
Pre-drill and then screw the 2x4s to the house using 2.5” screws. We used 6 screws in each of the 2x4s.
STEP 7: ASSEMBLE AND INSTALL BACK
The back is made the same way as the side, except you do not need to add in the middle support at the end. The length of your 1x6s will be the distance between the 4×4 post and the back 2×4 that is attached to the house.
STEP 8: BUILD DOOR
The door is made using a similar method as the back and side, but instead of (9) 1x6s, you’ll use (8) 1x6s and then a 1×4 on the bottom. This will give your door room on the bottom so that it can open and close with ease. No one wants it scraping the ground!
And instead of 2x4s, you’ll use 1x6s on the inside. These 1x6s should be cut to 47.5” or slightly shorter. Since the door will be attached with hinges and is not stationary–no pocket holes are needed.
Secure the 1x6s (and 1×4) to the back 1x6s using glue and 1.25” exterior wood screws.
The length of the 1x6s should be approximately ¼ – ½” smaller than the distance between the front 4×4 post and the front 2×4 that is attached to the house.
STEP 9: INSTALL DOOR AND LATCH
Start by attaching the hinges to the front of the door. We placed ours approximately 5” in from the top and bottom of the door.
Next, bring your door over to your trash enclosure and install the other side of the hinges to the inside of the 2×4 that is secured to the house.
Then, screw the latch onto the opposite end of the door. We placed ours so that the center of the latch was approximately 5.5” down from the top.
Close the door to mark where you need to install the latch on the 4×4 post without needing to measure. Install the latch and test out the door to make sure it works.
You might need to dig out a little more dirt in the front of the garbage can enclosure so that the door can easily open and close without scraping the ground.
STEP 10: ADD TOP FRAME
Measure and cut a 1×4 to create a top frame. You’ll need a piece for the front 2×4, the door, the side, and the back.
Attach the frame to the top of your garbage can enclosure using glue and 1.5” nails.
STEP 11: PAINT
Your trash enclosure is officially built and functional, now it’s time to finish it up so that it looks even better. For ours, we used the same paint that was used on the exterior of our house: Sherwin Williams Light French Gray. We used the Duration line of paint.
Honestly, we were rushing to get this enclosure finished up before the rain came…so we didn’t spend much time prepping for paint. Despite rushing, the rain still came while we were still painting. Surprisingly it did not all wash away and the paint has held up fine so far!
Typically I would recommend covering all of the screws with wood filler or spackle and then sanding everything down. Then I would recommend priming your wood and THEN painting.
I figure it’s an outdoor structure and regardless of how well you prep and stain (or stain) it, it’ll always look better than ugly garbage cans haha
There you have it! Now you know how to officially hide your trash cans with a DIY garbage can enclosure. Question for you: do you say “trash cans” or “garbage cans?” Tell me in the comments below!