7 Important Things to Consider Before Investing in and Installing a Greenhouse

A greenhouse is a tremendous asset to any hobbyist or professional gardener. It extends the growing seasons and broadens your horticultural horizons in terms of the kinds of plant specimen you may want to cultivate. Here are 7 More Reasons Why I love to Greenhouse Garden. However, when considering adding a greenhouse to your garden, there are some important things to consider before you make that all important investment and installation.

1. Location of Greenhouse

It is crucial to site your greenhouse so that it can optimise the benefits of your garden and the positioning of your home. A greenhouse needs to optimise the available light in your garden for the longest time during the day.

A way to do this could be to orientate the greenhouse so that it runs East to West in the garden to ensure it gets maximum light throughout the day. I have a North-West aspect back garden but I’ve sited my greenhouse in the North East corner of the garden, which is a surprising sun pocket.

My greenhouse borders my neighbour’s workshop on the West of it and another of our outbuildings to the south of it, but light tends to bounce off these buildings, trapping the sun and getting the benefit of both bright morning sun and the last rays of sunset.

A white wooden greenhouse with a chalkboard reading "Salut". Entry is via a locked door with an ornate door handle. What appears to be a strawberry plant is hanging from one corner.

Thinking about where and how to position the greenhouse means you also have to account for any shade from other buildings or trees. I have a eucalyptus tree behind my greenhouse. I did deliberate over cutting it down when siting the greenhouse.

I am glad, I decided to keep it though because it only slightly shades out one corner of the greenhouse, which I utilise anyway for any plants needing partial shade, like my wasabi. The eucalyptus tree also gives privacy to the greenhouse and means it is not overlooked by any neighbours. It is about working with any constraints in your garden.

2. Foundation and Drainage

Before you can have your greenhouse built or installed, you need to have the right foundations. Level and robust is ideal. I would have loved to have a brick-paved foundation as I think they look pretty and is naturally hard-wearing but that was an option that was out of my budget. 

Recommended are concrete pads, patio, paving etc. I have seen other ground solutions like gravel or mulch (straw, bark etc) that I would not recommend as I feel that the greenhouse floor can be a high-traffic area so gravel and mulch will quickly make things muddy and dusty, not to mention hazardous. 

Whatever foundations you choose though, ensure you factor in drainage. This could be a simple pipe drain built into the ground so that any water can be siphoned out of the building. When watering plants or cleaning the floor the water will need somewhere to go. Drainage is important.

3. Material for the Frame of the Greenhouse

The common materials for the greenhouse frame are aluminium or wood. I have written extensively about my experiences with each. I currently have a wooden greenhouse, and while they are aesthetically pleasing to look at from the house, I would go with aluminium should I need to buy one again. Check my article for my comparisons.

4. Ventilation

Ventilation is very important in a greenhouse. Some modern greenhouses come with auto vents in the roof as standard, which are great in Summer. They open automatically when the temperature inside reaches about 21 centigrade. The temperature gets as high as 50 centigrade during very hot weather so it is essential that all greenhouses have a way to automatically regulate the temperature. 

However, most greenhouses only provide manual opening windows or vents as expensive add-ons. That’s unfortunate, but every greenhouse needs a window you can manually open for the cooler months. 

The reason being is that during winter in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperature inside the greenhouse will not be warm enough for the auto vents to work but cold and wet conditions in the greenhouse lead to high humidity during cold seasons which needs to be aired daily to keep the atmosphere, plants and structure of the greenhouse healthy. 

This is especially important with wooden greenhouses, where mould can grow and damage the frame and structure of the greenhouse.

5. Access to Amenities: Water, Guttering, Electricity, Lighting

When siting your greenhouse, you may wish to add amenities that will make using the greenhouse easier. 

Of these amenities, I think access to water is the most important. I would recommend providing guttering to be attached to the greenhouse, (mine was an add-on option) to collect rainwater and a down-pipe to a water-butt that’s easily accessible from the greenhouse. Plants typically thrive when watered with rainwater.

My garden electricity, provided to the garden bar and tortoise enclosure but I did not provide any electricity to the greenhouse but you may want to in order to use heating, fans or lighting. 

I managed to find some solar lightbulbs that work ok (for their price) from Danish retailer Flying Tiger.

Staging and lighting

6. Greenhouse Staging

Shelving and storage. It’s prudent to think about how you will use your greenhouse with regards to the kinds of plants you will have – narrow shelving works placed higher up work well for seedlings, wider, hip-height shelving works well as work space and to store medium to bigger plants. Large plants work best placed on the ground so you will also need to factor that space in too. I went for one large and one small shelf along one side of the greenhouse. The opposite side has no built-in staging and instead houses my large citrus trees and a potting bench to store my pots. 

It is best to think about staging as you are buying your greenhouse and not after because sturdy greenhouse staging bought separately is expensive. So much so that once my greenhouse arrived, I decided I needed extra staging so I built my own using pallets.

Tiered staging allows for a large plant to be kept on the front bench and smaller succulents to be kept on the top shelf.

7. Size

My final tip is the size of greenhouse and this is simple: go for the biggest that your space can accommodate and budget can afford. No gardener ever regretted their decision to buy a large greenhouse. If anything, a big greenhouse will just expand your possibilities and you will always find use for the extra space. 

About the Author

I am Natalie and I run the allhomesteading.co.uk blog detailing my gardening, knitting and home craft projects. Articles added weekly.

2 thoughts on “7 Important Things to Consider Before Investing in and Installing a Greenhouse

  1. Thanks Natalie, we are also fans of Flying Tiger, pallet builds and solar lighting.

  2. You’re welcome, Andy! I hope to get more solar lights and maybe some pallet builds in the future!

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