Choosing the Right Greenhouse For You
A greenhouse is a perfect place for growing seedlings, taking cuttings and tendering plants and crops outside of season. It allows you to get a jump start on a season or extend a growing season. Before you go out to buy one, there are a few things you should consider first to ensure you get the right greenhouse for you.
A greenhouse is a long term investment. Many of our customers have found it is easier to grow into a bigger greenhouse than to expand a smaller one. However, when it comes to size there are few considerations.
First, think about where you are placing your greenhouse. What space you have on your property will determine what size greenhouse you should look at. We suggest you factor in things like the height, especially for certain vegetables you may want to grow or if you want to have hanging plants. In an ideal world, we would recommend a size of about 8 x 12 foot. This allows you enough space to add things like shelving for more area for pots and a prep bench for transplanting. You may even have a little storage area for tools and seeds if required.
Greenhouses do come in various sizes so even if you have a small suburban yard, you can still build a greenhouse to fit in the space. From small portable ones to place over garden beds (such as tomato plants) to commercial size greenhouses, the size will depend on the space you have available.
A final consideration is some greenhouses may require building approval. Check with local government laws and guidelines before you decide on a greenhouse.
There are three common shape sizes when it comes to a greenhouse. This will also play a factor when you look at the space you have available and in some cases may help in the decision process.
Traditional greenhouses look like a regular house. Square or rectangle in shape. Four walls and a roof. This is the most common shape style with the benefit that it can be custom to the size you have available.
Lean-To takes advantage of the existing south-facing wall like a side of a garage. Bricks hold the heat of the sun and there are only three sides of the greenhouse to build. This could be a good option if space is more limited.
Octagonal greenhouses are good for more awkward spaces. Not everyone has a square, block layout to their property and these tend to work to fit into more unconventional areas. If you are unsure about what would work best in your space, speak to the team at Grassroots Greenhouses.
Frame material is an important choice when it comes to a greenhouse. There are 4 basic materials. Galvanised steel, aluminium, timber and plastic framing. What you choose will depend on size, style and budget.
Aluminium is a strong lightweight frame option with a long lifespan and does not rust. This is the most common material used for the frame.
Galvanised steel frames are strong, long-lasting and lower cost. However, you are limited in the glazing options (see below) as glass is difficult to fasten to.
Timber frames are more popular especially for DIY greenhouse builds. It is more aesthetically pleasing and can blend in with most gardens and homes. Wood does have a lifespan as things like rot and weather can impact durability over time.
Recycled plastic frames are starting to become more popular for those who looking for a low cost, generally smaller greenhouse. These do not have the strength of timber or metals but are lighter and easier to move if required.
Glazing is an important feature of any greenhouse. It's the material that will absorb the sun's light and keep the heat in for your plants to grow and thrive. It also acts as a barrier against birds, pests and adverse weather conditions. There are four glazing options;
Horticultural glass is great as it lets the most light in. It retains heat well and is long-lasting. It is also easily replaceable if there are any cracked or damaged panels.
Toughened Glass is another good option. It is sturdy and holds up well against the elements, especially severe storms or weather conditions. However, it is more expensive than other glazing options.
Polycarbonate is common and less expensive, it also helps diffuse light more evenly than glass options. This is what Grassroots Greenhouses would recommend. Polycarbonate is extremely durable and easy to replace, it also provides more insulation than glass and is UV resistant.
Plastic is the cheapest but will deteriorate over time and need replacing more often than the other glazing materials. For a smaller greenhouse, plastic will be suitable but not as good for larger greenhouse builds.
Ventilation & Insulation
Ventilation is vital in summer as the greenhouse will trap in the heat from the sun and you run the risk of overheating your plants. Having side vents or hinged roofs that open up to allow ventilation and air are strongly recommended. If the budget allows, get vents with sensors that will open or close automatically depending on the outside temperature.
If you are in a colder environment where winter snow is a factor, insulation is recommended for your greenhouse to keep in heat and protect the plants from subzero temperatures. If you are unsure about the correct ventilation or insulation in your area, contact us at Grassroots Greenhouses for advice.
How you get water to your plants will come down to size and location. For smaller greenhouses, hand watering via a garden hose or watering can or wand will be sufficient. The key though is to keep water up to your plants regularly. Water is also good for retaining heat so place a few full buckets of water in during the day to help keep heat in overnight.
The most popular option is to install an irrigation system with a timer. This allows you to set and forget with watering occurring during the times you set it during the day. Overhead sprinklers or mists are good as this can recreate natural environmental behaviors of rain. Drainage might be a good idea for larger greenhouses with internal irrigation systems to stop flooding and water damage to the floor of your greenhouse.
Where you build your greenhouse will be the final piece in the puzzle. Ensure you pick a spot that receives plenty of light. Ideally, east to a west setting for full southern exposure to the sun. You will also want to make sure overhanging tree branches are not going to cover the greenhouse providing unnecessary shade. Set your greenhouse on level ground and ensure there is space around your greenhouse.
Also consider if you are going to have solar, electricity or mains water connected to your greenhouse. This will also impact the site of your greenhouse. Our last tip is we find people who have their greenhouse closer to the main residence, the more likely it will get used. So if possible, have it close to home.
All these different options can be overwhelming, especially when considering which accessories you will need. When choosing a greenhouse it is helpful for beginners to choose one that comes with added accessories like the Palram Prestige or the Riverstone Monticello (Premium, Mojave, or Growers Edition).
A greenhouse can be a sanctuary for gardeners. They can step away from the outside world and just focus on tending to their plants. Not to mention it extends your growing season and allows you to produce the best crop. At Grassroots Greenhouses, we can help you choose the right greens house for your home.