Buying & setting up a greenhouse does not need to be a luxury, nor it requires special skills or year-long gardening experience.
Thoughtful design and variable options mean choosing and setting up a greenhouse has never been easier. Starting even with low budget greenhouse options.
No matter how much money you invest in your greenhouse, believe us – it will pay back to you in so many ways. Take a look at our guide on how to set up a greenhouse.
Why You Should Build A Greenhouse
A greenhouse is a part of a garden that extends the growing season and protects against harsh weather conditions. If you live in a region with a cool or temperate climate, you can significantly prolong your gardening season.
You’ll be able to grow plants, veggies, or fruit that you aren’t normally able to. You can enjoy a juicy tomato in the early winter or grow some exotic plants not hardy enough for growing outside.
If you build a heating system, you can enjoy gardening year-round, even in cold climates, and the options for choosing plants will be endless.
Positioning Your Greenhouse
When setting up a greenhouse, you should pick the sunniest place in your garden, but with some kind of wind protection. Choose areas clear of shadows, and if you’re installing an attached greenhouse, avoid using the northern side of a building or structure.
Keep in mind that your plants should get at least 6 hours (but more is even better) of light per day throughout the growing season.
Consider all buildings, trees or hedges in your garden and the shadows they cast during different times of the year. For example, shadows are longer during the winter, if you place a greenhouse in a shady spot, you could lose hours of sun when the light conditions are already unfavourable.
A useful rule is that, where possible, a greenhouse should be oriented in a way that longer sides are facing south and north.
Be sure to place your greenhouse near utilities, making it easier to water and provide electricity to the greenhouse, if needed.
Heated or Unheated Greenhouse?
Your intentions and goals of what you want to grow will answer this question. That will also determine the size, type, and position.
An unheated greenhouse is mainly used to extend the growing season and speed up the growth of plants. It uses solar heat only and it’s commonly used for growing hardy and half-hardy plants. Your plants will be protected from frost, but if you live in a very cold climate, the plants inside an unheated greenhouse will not survive or grow during the winter.
This type of greenhouse is perfect for hardy alpine plants, growing vegetables in cooler climates or giving an early start to sowing seeds and spring bulbs.
On the other hand, a heated greenhouse enables year-round cultivation. If you’d like to grow a great variety of plants, including tender or tropical ones, consider investing in a heating system.
How to Heat A Greenhouse
Take several things into consideration before deciding on the type of heating for your greenhouse:
- the plants you’re planning to cultivate
- the costs of installation
- the cost of maintenance
With that in mind, you can choose among different heating methods – electric heaters, gas heater (propane or natural gas), wood burner, passive solar heating, exterior furnace.
All these options have their own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s up to you to find what suits your needs best.
Another important thing is the temperature of the soil. Some plants, especially edible crops, need warm soil in order to germinate or grow. A good option is using thermostatically controlled electric warming cables to heat the soil.
The Best Temperature for Greenhouse
Depending on the plants you want to grow, you will need to set up and maintain proper conditions, especially temperature level. Considering the temperature, besides the unheated greenhouse, there are three types of greenhouse:
The Temperate Greenhouse – The ideal temperature is 40–50°F (4°–10°C). Use this type if you want to have an early start for annuals, or if you want to store your half-hardy plants and potted flowers out of frost during winter.
The Warm Greenhouse – The optimal temperature is 55–60°F (13–16°C), with the minimum nighttime temperature of about 55°F (13°C). This greenhouse type is perfect for semi-tender or tender plants.
The Tropical Greenhouse – With the temperature of about 60–70°F (16–21°C), the tropical greenhouse will keep all tender, heat-loving plants alive year-round. You can even grow some exotic fruit inside or adjust the conditions slightly in order to grow bromeliads or cacti and succulents.
Different Types of Greenhouses
Each type of greenhouse has its own advantages or disadvantages. Some offer better light transmission, some retain heat better, some offer an aesthetic appeal, some are relatively cheap, some are expensive, while others offer space optimization.
The most common types are traditional, attached (lean-to greenhouse), and hoop house (PVC tubes with a plastic sheet). Other popular types are three-quarter attached, A-frame, dome, Alpine house, Dutch greenhouse, mansard, mini-greenhouse, polygonal, etc.
You can build the greenhouse on your own, you can buy the desired model, or you can even use a computer software program to create a custom design.
Framing – Depending on the type of greenhouse, construction can be built from wood, aluminium, steel, or PVC tubes.
Foundation and Floors – Heavier framing requires a proper foundation, while, for example, PVC framing with plastic cover can be placed directly to the ground. If you don’t like dirty and muddy floors, you can cover them with a water-permeable surface such as pea gravel or crushed stone. Some types of greenhouses, like a lean-on, look great with brick, concrete or flagstone pavers.
Glazing – The most popular glazing options are glass and plastic, while other available options are fibreglass, plexiglass, or polycarbonate panels. They all provide different light transmission and have a different lifespan, as well.
Ventilation – Vents are essential for balancing the temperature and humidity inside the greenhouse while enabling good air circulation at the same time. Doors and windows allow the air to circulate, but roof vents are particularly useful because hot air tends to rise up. Fans are quite a popular option when it comes to ventilation, while automatic vent openers, connected to a thermostat and operated by a motor, are very handy when you’re not home or on vacation.
Shades – Another useful way to gain optimal conditions inside the greenhouse is by using shades. By using a cloth, bamboo, or roll-up shades during the hottest part of the day you will prevent the greenhouse from getting too hot. It will also keep your plants sunburn-free.
Watering and Sprinkling System – If you’d like to automate watering you need a watering system, there are various options available: drip irrigation, overhead sprinkling, capillary mats, etc.
Light – If you’re willing to spend extra cash or if your greenhouse is attached to a house, you can add supplemental lights. Extra lights will extend growing hours and will give you the opportunity to work in a greenhouse after dark.
The Greenhouse Interior
According to the size and type of greenhouse, you will need to design its interior and arrange the inside elements.
Shelves and benches will give extra space, so as hanging storage and baskets.
A potting bench, table or working space are essential – a firm surface to work on.
Storage for the potting mixes and compost, watering cans, hoses, and other equipment and tools will keep your greenhouse organized.