Greenhouses What are they?
Before you buy or build a greenhouse, there are a number of considerations worth thinking about. You'll save time and hassle by planning ahead. Remember, all the factors discussed below will need to be evaluated in light of what kind of plants you intend to have.
Greenhouses come in a hundred different styles. Pre-made greenhouses can be purchased in a range of designs, sizes and prices, offering several different materials (glass, plastic, polycarbonates, partial wood or aluminum). Building your own involves additional issues to address.
But whether you buy or build, you will be faced with many of the same problems to solve.
You'll have to consider what kind of foundation to build or install - none, gravel, wood, cement or brick. You should consider whether you plan to cover the floor with linoleum or carpet or tile. Some floor heating systems can work within these, for example. They also affect how much time and effort in cleaning it you may need to invest.
You should consider the location carefully. Depending on where you live, what kind of trees are around your home and other factors, you may get a few hours of sunshine per day or more than a dozen. Climates differ also in the amount and severity of wind, rain, hail, snow and other variables.
Geography will obviously play a large role. More northern latitudes will get longer hours of summer sunshine, but very much less in the winter. The amount of sunshine per day is a key factor in planning any greenhouse. Though it can be compensated for somewhat by artificial lighting and heating systems.
Beyond hours of light, the amount of heat and moisture is heavily affected by climate. Even in northern latitudes there are significant differences. Summers in Northern Idaho are dry, implying a greater need for watering systems. Summers in the Northeast such as New Hampshire, by contrast, are much more humid and you may need to water less.
You need to evaluate all those relative to the proposed size and location of your planned greenhouse, constrained by the options available on your property.
You may have trees close to the house in one area, but further away on the other side. You may have a flat area suitable for a greenhouse, or a hill which could be flattened in a day with a bulldozer. Consider, too, the amount of wind, hail and rain you'll get in one location versus another.
Though average wind and rainfall is, of course, the same over your entire property, the exact amount at your greenhouse's location can vary. Trees can block wind and rain, high walls may shield one side.
The amount of rain on the greenhouse affects how you need to deal with drainage around it, and wind effects can be severe when you open the door or from storms. Think about orientation of the doors and windows, along with the location on your property. Think about how much water or mud may have a tendency to pile up around the outside walls and the doors.
It isn't necessary to be an architect to build or install a greenhouse. But when you look at plans online, try to think like one. For those more interested in gardening than construction, that's a challenge. But you'll have more time for plant care in the long run if you spend some time thinking about building up front.