Tips for Building a Greenhouse
Building a greenhouse is like building a house. You should have a well-designed plan and several things need to be taken into consideration. There are different types of home greenhouses but your choice should depend on the growing area, architecture, location and costs.
Most importantly, the greenhouse that you will be building should, of course, serve its purpose of maintaining a proper environment for plants to grow.
As mentioned, there are several things that need to be considered when putting up a greenhouse. Here are some tips for Building a Greenhouse, the things to be included in the planning stage:
First thing to note in building a greenhouse is its location. The best location for a greenhouse is a place where it will get maximum sunlight. Morning sunlight is best for plants because it makes them start processing early which will result to maximized growth.
Thus, the best location is on the east side where it gets maximum morning sunlight especially from November to February. North of buildings or any major structure is the last location to be considered as it only provides little light.
Also, it is best to make sure that the trees nearby the chosen location will still allow enough sunlight to reach the greenhouse.
Other things to be considered when choosing location are good drainage, location of sources of water, electricity and heat. The location should also be convenient for the owner or the caretaker as well as to the utilities.
- Greenhouse type
In general, a home greenhouse can be any of these two types – a free-standing structure or one that is attached to your house or garage.
Attached greenhouses also have different kinds. One example of an attached greenhouse is the lean-to. This is a half greenhouse attached directly to one side of a house or building with doorway, if possible.
This type is close to sources of heat, water and electricity and is the least expensive. However, this kind of structure also has some limitations on space, ventilation, and sunlight.
Another attached greenhouse variation is the even-span. This kind of structure has one gable end connected to a building. It provides more usable space and allows for better air flow to maintain temperature. It is also the most costly, though, among the attached ones.
The third type of an attached greenhouse is the window-mounted. This type can be attached on the east or south side of the house or building. This is a glass enclosure that extends a foot or so, which gives enough space for growing a few plants at low cost.
Freestanding greenhouses are separate structures that are not limited to a small space. Since it is set apart from an existing structure or building, it should have its own water and electricity sources as well as heating system.
When choosing the preferred structure, make sure that enough space for benches, storage, as well as future expansion is considered.
The University of Maryland Cooperative Extension Service suggests a minimum area of 6 feet by 12 feet for a free-standing or even-span greenhouse.
- Structural Materials
Your greenhouse should also have a good structural foundation to withstand extreme weather conditions. There are several options for a frame and framing materials to choose from.
Do-it-yourself greenhouse plans commonly use wood or metal pipes as their structural material.
There are different kinds of frames available which range from simple to complex designs. Some examples of frames are Quonset, gothic, rigid-frame, post and rafter, and A-frame.
Another material to be considered is the covering for your greenhouse. Your choice of frame and covering should correctly match. Some factors to be considered to choose a good covering is its ability to trap the most amount of heat inside, as well as its life span.
The different choices for greenhouse covering include regular glass, fiberglass, double-wall plastic, and film plastic.
- Foundations and flooring
Glass frames and the double-wall plastic need a permanent foundation and the plan should be provided by the manufacturers of the frame. It is also recommended for the greenhouse to be elevated a little to have enough space for water to flow.
Thus, permanent flooring is not advisable as the soil may stay wet and make the floor slippery. A walkway made of gravel, concrete or stone is advised for easy access to the all the plants.
- Environmental systems
Once you now have a good plan for the structure of your home greenhouse, the next thing to consider is its proper maintenance.
Aside from sunlight and heat, different elements are important to maintain the ideal growing condition for plants.
These environmental systems that should be included in greenhouse planning are heating, air circulation, ventilation, cooling, controllers and automation, water and lighting systems.
Building a greenhouse can prove to be demanding and challenging. Complete knowledge about greenhouse is needed for you to be able to build a productive structure.
A considerable amount of time is needed to make a good plan which should cover all aspects. It pays to learn and scout for different options before making your final decision.
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Choosing The Right Greenhouse Design
When you have a greenhouse, it means that you never have to quit gardening just because of weather conditions. You can keep on propagating cuttings and seeds and grow several plant varieties whatever the season.
When choosing a greenhouse, select a greenhouse style that matches the design of your home and the layout of your garden.
Weather conditions should also be taken into account, as when your area experiences heavy snows during the winter, most likely you will not select a flat or straight roof design, rather a roof that will allow the snow to slide off easily.
The standard free-standing with curved or peaked roof greenhouse up to now is very popular that can be found in so many gardens. The rectangular or square shape permits for utmost growing space for plants, usually designed with benches on the sides and at the back.
Lean-to or home or wall attached greenhouses designs are manufactured and used when there is limited space at the backyard. These greenhouse designs are very accessible and convenient for connecting much needed water and power supply.
When choosing a certain design in the market, the “sky’s the limit”. Small solariums of various designs are widely available, medium and large sized greenhouses and even prefabricated greenhouse kits for easy installation.
Here are some greenhouse designs:
- Gable greenhouse
This design type usually is attached to a wall or garage or any structure utilizing only half the gable’s actual gable design.
Generally, this type has flat roof panels but slightly sloping and vertical sidewalls. At times, the gable types of greenhouse are also attached to another greenhouse employing the use of the end wall rather than sidewall.
- Barn style greenhouse
This design type is, as the name suggests shaped similar to a barn having wide roof and interior and with shorter walls.
This design is usually incorporated in a garden of country setting or theme or a rustic garden appeal. This greenhouse design can be attached to another greenhouse or can be beautifully constructed in a garden freestanding.
- Dome greenhouse
This design is identical to a dome, meaning it is half a ball and placed directly on land. This design can not be attached to a structure and only can be constructed as a freestanding type of greenhouse, as this design has no sidewalls.
This type of greenhouse is a bit expensive to make due to the many pieces of different glazing that generally are needed to complete this design shape.
- Gothic style greenhouse
This design type has a very historical gothic appearance. The walls and roof are formed in such a manner as to create a continuous form, allowing snow to fall down easily.
This design type can be either attached or freestanding, however it is usually not recommended attached except when your home’s design is very much similar to a gothic design.
- Hoop greenhouse
This type of design is constructed with a metal pipe or PVC to make the hoop’s shape then enclosed with plastic covering. This type of design is very cost effective on your initial purchase, but the maintenance of continuously replacing the cover (plastic) can really add up.
One will find that the majority of greenhouses are manufactured from aluminum material that is weatherproof and lightweight. Galvanized steel also is sturdy and lightweight.
Wood can also be used, but one has to make sure to use a lumber that has been pressure treated such as redwood or cedar because these are weather resistant.
As to whatever greenhouse design should you decide on, be sure to look for a structure with the highest strength and stability and must have these features:
• Will be cable to endure extreme weather conditions, like very high winds and snowfall build up.
• Should have the necessary support for grow lights, sidewall shelving and hanging baskets.
• Should have an intricate detail of having hinged screened storm doors as well as large side or individual roof vents.
• A wide selection of styles and sizes offered. Keep in mind that costs can limit your greenhouse size, however extensions can later be added when needed and when you already have enough budget for it.
• The door may be easily adjusted to be dropped or lowered into the foundation’s opening so to get rid of an elevated step when you feel that it is needed.
Take note that often, most greenhouse owners complain of a limited space when they built their greenhouse on a budget. So whatever design you choose, just remember to get the largest that your money can buy.