Bicycles and gardens don't always go together. You'd have imagined that the greenest form of transport would smile upon horticultural activity, but the problem is that bikes need somewhere to live for the 99 per cent of the time we're not riding them around, feeling all superior.
Bikes compete in the shed for space you'd prefer to fill with weird tools such as specialist copper lawn edgers. Parked in the hall, they prevent you from carrying in your compost purchases without skinning your elbows. And consigned to the house's side alley, they curl around the hose pipe into a love knot so one impatient tug fells your entire lifetime collection of carefully balanced plastic plant pots. And snails.
I've never found a satisfactory solution, so I was intrigued when my neighbours decided to tackle the problem. Intrigued enough to stand there watching them for hours. I don't know if I was being annoying.
Their front garden's growing area was already small, because the space was also used to store a Ducati. Which meant their sitting-room was full of bikes. A proper bike store seemed to be the answer, heralding a new era where they were able to use their living-room for actually watching telly.
The first idea was wood: wooden bike stores have the big advantage of being built of a (fairly) renewable material. This also makes them a lot more reasonable in price. But like wooden garden sheds, wooden bike stores are frustratingly prone to get full of annoying things like spiders. In my experience, they also fail to respond with enthusiasm to a good spring clean. For some reason, this doesn't seem so important when the slightly leaky roof is protecting garden things. But I want my bike protected from dripping. And earwigs.
There are also plenty of plastic options available. A quick look around our local shop's selection after the recent frosty winter was salutary – lots had developed cracks. And so to the top of the range possibility: a metal bike locker.
See how much better that sounds already! This is the option my neighbours plumped for in the end. Theirs is military in appearance, in khaki green. And it makes a deep resounding boom when you bang on it. I'm already calling it the Hurt Locker. Even more good news: it fits both mum's and dad's bikes, as well as the kids'. And when you eventually come to recycle it, it can be taken away by the rag-and-bone man, rather than languishing in landfill.
The bad news is the cost. Phew, those lockers is pricey. And in an "isn't it ironic?' moment Alanis Morissette would enjoy, it must be mounted for security on to a concrete surface, which means that my neighbours' bicycle storage solution actually ended up involving yet more Tarmac over yet more garden.
The bike-garden war: not yet over.
Trimetals' exemplary bike locker has had rave reviews from cycling mags – but it'll cost you, at £429. It can be locked at up to four points for people who live in areas thick with thieves. And you can pay in instalments. trimetals.co.uk
The BillyOh is a substantial wooden, chest-height dumping ground for at least two bicycles. £148.95, gardenbuildingsdirect.co.uk
Kryptonite, the lock brand trusted by thousands of cyclists, also does a Stronghold Anchor in concrete that my friend installed, then grew jasmine and ivy around the area so that when locked, the bike was hidden from passing eyes. £44.99, evanscycles.com