Setting Up Your Greenhouse

Setting Up Your Greenhouse

Now that you know the basics of greenhouses and what you can accomplish with one, here are a few other suggestions to get you thinking about how to set up your greenhouse. These factors may also influence what kind of greenhouse you buy.

• Make sure that you have an area of your yard where your greenhouse will get enough sunlight. You may need to make a few changes in your landscaping to let the light in.

• Provide easy access to your greenhouse. You may perhaps want big enough doors to get a wheelbarrow or cart through. You will also need easy access when the weather gets nasty.

• Make sure that you have an area with good drainage. Pooling water in your greenhouse may increase humidity and also make for a less enjoyable gardening experience.

• Unless you are using a coldframe, grow rack, or portable, you will need a squared and level foundation. See Setting Up Your Greenhouse for more information.

• For more complicated greenhouse gardening, you’ll need to think about installing electricity for fans, lights, and other necessities.

• Place your greenhouse where you’ll have a source of water close at hand. If you don’t have a hose or other water source where you want to set up your greenhouse, make sure to install a new one.

• Try and pick the biggest greenhouse you can afford for your space. This will allow you more options for gardening in the future.

• Double or triple walled panels are expensive, but will provide important insulation for growing certain kinds of plants. Make the investment if you can and you won’t regret it.

Need more information? You’re ready to move on to our page on basic greenhouse types and their uses. Also, check out our links pages for some great resources on greenhouses. Your local library and book stores can also help out for books about greenhouses.

Location, location, location!

When you are setting up your greenhouse, you will need to maximize the sun exposure to take advantage of the solar energy. Most professional gardeners say that six to seven hours of direct sunlight during the winter months is ideal.

Before you install your greenhouse, observe your yard from the early morning to the late afternoon and note the amount of sunlight each area receives. You may need to make some changes in your landscaping in order to maximize sunlight. Consider pruning a tree or two to let more sunlight reach your greenhouse. In the case that you live in the Northern most parts of the country where the days are shortest, you can think about buying grow lights as an option to compensate for the short days.

Also, remember that the closer your greenhouse is to your home, the better. Greenhouses can receive a little extra heat as it is radiated off your house during the winter. Also, the closer your greenhouse is to your home, the easier access you’ll have during the coldest and most inhospitable winter months. Keep your greenhouse away from landscape features that may damage the structure. These include rapidly growing vines or older trees that may have old branches that could fall and damage your greenhouse.

Building A Foundation for a Greenhouse

While the structure itself is the fundamental part of your new greenhouse, it’s important not to forget the surface where you’re going to place it. Depending on the style of greenhouse you choose, you will probably need to set up some kind of foundation. The benefits of a foundation include an additional surface to soak up the sunlight and release the absorbed heat at night. Many hobby and portable greenhouses work fine without a foundation if you’re interested in only casual greenhouse gardening.

A foundation can be fairly simple, or it can be professionally built. If you are a serious gardener who wants to set up a large greenhouse, it’s a good idea to hire a contractor to set up your foundation. A basic poured concrete foundation may work for you and are easy to make yourself. A dirt floor with a little gravel mulch also works fine for a small portable hobby greenhouse.

You can consider installing several types of foundations for your greenhouse, including concrete, brick, and wood. Concrete is durable but you must also think about drainage issues. A brick foundation can be built to have adequate spacing between the bricks that will allow for some drainage. Wood is a good option as an inexpensive foundation but you will need to keep treating the wood so that it holds up to the moisture and water used in gardening.

You can consider installing several types of foundations for your greenhouse, including concrete, brick, and wood. Concrete is durable but you must also think about drainage issues. A brick foundation can be built to have adequate spacing between the bricks that will allow for some drainage. Wood is a good option as an inexpensive foundation but you will need to keep treating the wood so that it holds up to the moisture and water used in gardening.

Proper Ventilation for your Greenhouse

Once your greenhouse is set up, one of the most important things to consider is ventilating your greenhouse space. Greenhouses that are not properly ventilated may experience extreme humidity and heat, and cause some of your more delicate plants to suffer from stress. You will also need to keep fresh air circulating into the greenhouse so that there is a balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Simple kit greenhouses include vents to allow air to circulate. Ventilation in the roof and walls are standard. More complex greenhouses require fans and vents to help circulate the air and control temperature.

You may notice that certain areas of your greenhouse concentrate the hot air more intensely than other areas. Proper ventilation minimizes this problem by allowing the hottest areas to cool off and balance out with the rest of the greenhouse. This will help your plants avoid the shock of extreme heat.

In addition to letting fresh air in, in some cases it is important to occasionally open the vents during the cooler months to allow your plants to gradually become used to the cold. If you’ve kept your vents closed and temperatures hot, imagine if the temperature suddenly drops and you open the door to your greenhouse. Your plants will not appreciate the shock.

Automatic systems are available if you have a busy schedule and want a more carefree greenhouse gardening experience. They can be expensive but are a good option for the serious gardener. During the coldest months, the temperatures will not reach the extremes that they do in the summer. You will probably need to open the vents infrequently during this time.

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