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Greenhouses

Where to put a Greenhouse in your garden

When choosing your greenhouse, the first thing to bare in mind is where in your garden it's going to sit. There are a few considerations here:

  • Space
  • Access to sunlight
  • Foundation
  • Access to the garden

Space

The first thing to consider is how much space you have in different areas of your garden. Keep in mind although you are adding a beautiful new greenhouse, you will be reducing the space in your garden. A huge greenhouse might fit in your garden, but remember to keep space to enjoy your garden too - somewhere to BBQ your veggies of love.

You can save space on a greenhouse with something like a Wall Garden, attached to the side of your house or garage rather than standing by itself. If that wall of your house gets enough sun it’s a perfect solution, taking away one side of the greenhouse and the space that would normally be left around it. If you don’t have an appropriate wall, though, you’ll probably need a freestanding greenhouse that can be placed somewhere sunnier.

Access to Sunlight

Inside a Greenhouse

Sunlight, of course, is one of the most important considerations for any garden, indoors or outdoors, glass or open sky. You need space somewhere in your garden that’s going to get plenty of sun, during the winter months too when you’re getting the most use out of your greenhouse.

If you can fit it, arranging the longer side of your greenhouse to the south will expose it to the most sun possible. If there’s very little access to the sun anywhere else in your garden, then you may have to rely on sun lamps to provide the light your plants need; another advantage of getting a greenhouse in the first place.

Foundation

A greenhouse needs to be placed on the right foundation to ensure it lasts. A level site will allow water to drain through plant pots evenly, and proper groundwork will allow the water to drain out of the greenhouse as well. Uneven terrain will cause water and nutrients to be focused downhill, and provide uneven nourishment.

Improper drainage will cause groundwater to pool, eroding the foundation, enabling disease and potentially causing flooding. You can add drainage to a greenhouse by laying a layer of landscape cloth underneath gravel, allowing water to drain without weeds growing through the gaps. Concrete floors can also provide the same advantage, if sloped towards drains at the side.

Access to Garden and Home

Though not vital to the health of your plants and performance of your greenhouse, you’ll probably end up spending more time in your greenhouse if it’s easier to access from the home. You don’t want to walk across a muddy garden on a wet day in winter, so the closer your greenhouse is to the door, the more likely you are to manage it on a regular basis.

Preparing your Garden for a Greenhouse

Before putting down your greenhouse, you need to make sure that your garden is ready to receive it. A solid, sturdy base will not only help with drainage, but will also help take care of the greenhouse itself. Placing it on a concrete base will help the greenhouse maintain its shape and resist bad weather, though the same effect can be achieved with specialist bases that dig directly into compacted earth.

Building a foundation therefore means finding a place where your greenhouse can be properly secured down on a stable base, whether that’s solid concrete, slabs or compacted earth. Whichever you choose, you’ll also want to make sure that you have good drainage, which takes some preparation of its own.

If you plan on planting directly into soil then drainage is already taken care of. After all, soil already drains itself quite well. For any other type of floor, though, and walkways in the greenhouse, you’ll need somewhere for water to go. One option is to put gravel down over the top of landscape cloth, which allows water to drain through to the soil below without anything growing out of the soil itself.

Another common option is using sloped concrete floors. Although the foundation is level, the concrete can be very slightly sloped towards the edges of the greenhouse, where drains can carry the water away and let it drain into the soil outside.

When a proper foundation is built and drainage sorted, then you’re good to start building your greenhouse.

Taking Care of a Greenhouse

Ventilation

Once it’s set up, of course, a greenhouse requires regular maintenance to keep it in good working condition. Without the right care a greenhouse can begin to harbour mould, diseases and insects, all of which can be harmful to humans and plants alike. At best, a poorly maintained greenhouse will function poorly, allowing plants to die early or grow poorly.

Maintaining Temperature

Temperature is the most important part for maintaining a good greenhouse. It needs to be kept warm throughout winter, but also needs to be kept cool in summer, even if plants are no longer being kept in there.

Use heaters to keep your greenhouse at the right temperature during colder months to regulate the temperature. The best bet is to use heaters that can adjust to the surrounding air temperature, so that they automatically turn off when the greenhouse gets warmer, and more crucially they will automatically turn on if there’s a sudden, unexpected cold snap.

Allowing your greenhouse get too warm in summer can encourage condensation, introducing excessive moisture to the area which will settle and help mould, insects and disease to grow. If plants are kept in the greenhouse during warmer months then being too warm will also cause them to dehydrate and wither, as well as potentially scorch them if there’s too much direct sunlight.

Ventilation

You can stop the greenhouse getting too warm and too damp with proper ventilation, provided in most greenhouses in the form of roof windows. It’s usually not necessary to open all of these at once – just enough to let some of the excess heat escape and improve airflow during the warmest times of the day.

If you’re not around to open and close the vents yourself, it is possible to install automatic openers to open the vents for you on a timer. Don’t rely on these too much though. If you are around, it’s better to check that they’ve opened and the greenhouse isn’t too hot, just in case. One bad day could ruin an entire greenhouse full of plants.

Broken Glass

Glass is fragile, and it’s amazing what damage it can take in bad weather from small items being blown around at high speeds, or just from rattling in the wind. After a period of intense weather it’s always worth checking your greenhouse for damage, both cracks and chips in the glass and to see if any of the clips holding the glass in place have come loose.

It's important to catch broken glass as soon as possible. Not only does damage break the environment for the plants inside the greenhouse, broken glass allows more wind into the greenhouse, making further damage significantly more likely. Replace and repair damaged components as soon as possible, and in the meantime make sure that any gaps in the greenhouse are sealed so that wind can’t get in and force its way out by breaking more glass from inside.

Cleaning Greenhouses

No matter how well kept your greenhouse is, it will need a good clean at least once a year to remove the build-up of grime, pests and infections, cleaning the air and soil for plants to flourish in.

It’s best if you can move the plants out of the greenhouse for the day while you clean it, to a shed or even in the home if you have the room. Otherwise, you’ll have to work around them, if this is the case we recommend cleaning the greenhouse one half at a time.

Clean up debris and junk that’s collected in the greenhouse over the course of the year – empty plant pots, bags of compost and fertiliser, tags and so on. Any pots you plan on re-using will want to be disinfected. Everything else can be thrown away.

After that, give the greenhouse a good sweep to get the last of the mess out. Clean the glass with an appropriate glass cleaning product or, if there’s not too much grime, a sponge and a bucket of plain water.

Finally, wipe down benches with disinfectant, as well as treating any tools and pots with disinfectant as well. Anything that has been used will need to be clear from infection before you start using it again to prevent young plants and seedlings from getting diseases while they’re still weak.

Greenhouses we stock

Hillsborough Fencing stock a number of greenhouses for any size of garden, for anyone from beginner greenhouse hobbyists to experienced gardeners.

You can choose a greenhouse in a size that suits you. Different models come with a number of options including:

  • Horticultural glass, toughened glass or polycarbonate panes
  • 3mm, 4mm or 6mm thick aluminium frame
  • Green, silver or black aluminium frame
  • A size that suits your garden

Not sure what’s best for your garden? We’re happy to help you find what’s right for you. Get in touch with us today to hear more.

 

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