Spending the time to choose the optimal position for your greenhouse will make a huge difference to your growing success. There are a few key factors to consider when looking for your greenhouse site.
Sun, or lack thereof will have a big impact on the success of your growing. Ensure your greenhouse will have optimal light during short winter days to maximise your year round growing potential. Positioning the greenhouse away from buildings and overhanging trees will reduce shadowing. This will also prevent leaves getting into the guttering system. In New Zealand it is best to avoid south-facing slopes (see image below).
Slope/Drainage, level ground is best to avoid water running into the house and for ease of construction. Ensure the site is well-drained.
Easy Access, you should allow enough room to get right around your greenhouse, a 1 metre allowance on all sides would be sufficient.
Water, even if you plan on using a watering system, you will still need to have a hose or water supply in close proximity to your greenhouse to provide water for the plants. A great solution is to collect water off the roof and channel it into a water tank or water butt with your greenhouse gutter system.
Wind, sheltering your greenhouse from the prevailing wind will help keep the temperature up in the key growing times of spring and autumn. If it is a particularly gusty site, you may want to consider building a windbreak on the exposed side to protect your greenhouse. These can easily be constructed using some fence posts and either wind break cloth, or trellis. Once constructed, this also creates additional growing space for beans or other similar climbing plants.
Power, if you plan on using lighting or heating in your greenhouse during winter, it is a good idea to look at the availability of services and how you will run them to your greenhouse.
- Tip #1: Choosing an Attached or Freestanding Greenhouse and N,S,E,W Orientation
- Greenhouse Location Guide: Learn Where To Put Your Greenhouse
- Where to Put Your Greenhouse
- Additional Considerations for Greenhouse Placement
- Where to position your greenhouse
- Assess your garden’s conditions
- North, south, east or west?
- Avoid tall trees
- Give your greenhouse breathing space
- Make it easily accessible
- Child safety
- TIP 2: Positioning your Greenhouse
- Where to site a greenhouse
- How to Best Position Your Greenhouse or Polytunnel
- where is the best place for a greenhouse
- Greenhouse Orientation and Location Tips
- What is a Greenhouse?
- Why a Greenhouse is Good to Use
- Siting Your Greenhouse
- Distance from the House
- Ground Topography
- Greenhouse Orientation and Sun Exposure
- Water Source Location
- Electrical Outlet Location
- Proximity to Trees and Windy Areas
- Consider Kid Play Areas
- Conclusion: Greenhouse Location and Setup
- Determining Greenhouse Location & Orientation
- Orientation and siting a greenhouse
- Best Position for a Greenhouse – Where to Site a Greenhouse
- Greenhouse Growing, Coldframes etc. Further information
Tip #1: Choosing an Attached or Freestanding Greenhouse and N,S,E,W Orientation
When setting up a greenhouse, one of the first things a gardener needs to decide is whether the greenhouse will be a freestanding or an attached greenhouse. A closer look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of each will give a gardener a better idea of which type of greenhouse will best suit his or her needs.
Advantages of an Attached Greenhouse
One of the biggest advantages of an attached greenhouse is that they are generally more energy efficient. This is because one wall is already heated by the home. Another advantage of an attached greenhouse is accessibility. Many attached greenhouses are accessible from the living space which makes entering the greenhouse especially convenient. Attached greenhouses can also add aesthetic value to a home. In many cases, a greenhouse will enhance and/or complement the architecture of the home.
Disadvantages of an Attached Greenhouse
The disadvantages of an attached greenhouse are that attached structures will require a frost-free footer and a foundation. This can be an added cost to the project. Also, building codes are generally more stringent for structures attached to living spaces.
Advantages of a Freestanding Greenhouse
Perhaps the biggest advantages of a freestanding greenhouse are that there are less limitations regarding size, height, and style. Another significant advantage is that freestanding greenhouses usually have better lighting conditions because they can allow light to enter on all four sides of the greenhouse.
Disadvantages of a Freestanding Greenhouse
A disadvantage of a freestanding greenhouse is an increased heating cost during colder months. Due to all four sides being exposed to the elements, freestanding greenhouses are less energy efficient compared to an attached structure. Freestanding greenhouses are less convenient to access because the gardener must go outside to enter the greenhouse.
Location of the Greenhouse
Many gardeners believe that a greenhouse should always be located facing south so that it receives the most light possible. However, this is not always the best location for a greenhouse. Although the southern exposure will receive the most light, the truth is that most plants do not need that much light and, in some ways, a southern exposure can be counterproductive. During the summer months, a south facing greenhouse can easily get too hot and require a shade cloth to help protect the plants. An overheating greenhouse can hinder plant growth and be a nightmare for the grower. For most hobbyist applications, a greenhouse with western exposure is the way to go. Think “west is the best”. This is not to say that other orientations will not work. In fact, an eastern exposure will work just fine for most plants. A northern exposure may be too shady for any tropical varieties and is the only orientation that should be avoided if possible. Since virtually any orientation will work, greenhouse hobbyists should choose a location that will best complement the home or garden. Just remember that greenhouses do not need to be exposed to the maximum amount of light at all times. In fact, most horticulturists will want sunnier and shadier locations in their greenhouses to accommodate the needs of the various plant varieties.
Greenhouse Location Guide: Learn Where To Put Your Greenhouse
So you want a greenhouse. A simple enough decision, or so it would seem, but in actuality there are many factors to consider, not the least is where to put your greenhouse. Correct greenhouse placement is likely your most important consideration. So where’s the best spot for a greenhouse? Read on to find out how to site a greenhouse.
Where to Put Your Greenhouse
Before you decide where to put your greenhouse, consider what exactly you plan to grow in the greenhouse and what type of greenhouse do you plan to erect. If you are a home grower that plans to grow for your own amusement and use, the greenhouse will generally be on a smaller scale, but if you wish to start a business, it will have to be much larger.
So while the size of the structure dictates the greenhouse locations, so too does the type of plants you wish to grow. Sun exposure is usually of paramount importance, but depending upon the plant, afternoon shade may also be a factor in greenhouse placement.
The site for the greenhouse determines not only what type of structure will work best but also the
direction and intensity of sun it will get. This determines what types of plants you can grow. Consider protection of the greenhouse from storm damage or from neighborhood hoodlums that like to hear glass break! Also, think about the ease of maintenance for not only plants but of the structure itself.
Additional Considerations for Greenhouse Placement
Do you need access to a water or electrical source? Remember to consider these factors when situating the greenhouse. Depending upon sun exposure, the greenhouse may need additional heating in the form of electric or even gas. Some greenhouses can be placed against the door, window or basement of the house, which will allow you to use heat from the home. This will also increase your home heating bill, but it might be less costly than if you heat the greenhouse separately.
Generally, the best spot for a greenhouse is on the south or southeast side of the house in a sunny area that gets the most sun from fall through winter (November to February in most places). If this option doesn’t exist, the next best location for the greenhouse is the east side. The third best option for a greenhouse is the southwest or west side. The north side is the last resort and the least optimal site for a greenhouse.
Try to situate the greenhouse lengthwise from north to south rather than east to west. This position provides the structure with more light and less shade. While unobstructed sunlight is important, afternoon shade may be as important depending upon the types of plants grown and the time of year they are grown.
For instance, it might be advantageous to situate the greenhouse near deciduous trees which will shade the structure from hot summer sun but in the winter will benefit from added sunlight once the leaves have fallen. Of course, situating the greenhouse near trees or bushes may result in leaves, sap and sticky honeydew littering the exterior of the structure, so that should be a consideration as well.
Lastly, avoid building the structure at the base of a slope where cold air collects and is prone to frost. Be sure the area is level and the ground well-draining.
Where to position your greenhouse
The position of your greenhouse can have a huge impact on its success
Image: PJ Photography
Unless you have a portable plastic greenhouse that’s easy to move, selecting the perfect place for your greenhouse is important as it’s a permanent structure. Here are the things you’ll need to consider and some tips to ensure your greenhouse is located in the best possible position.
Assess your garden’s conditions
A small hedge makes a great wind break
Each garden has its own micro-climate and set of unique conditions. To give your plants and seedlings the best chance, you should set your greenhouse up somewhere that gets lots of sunshine, plenty of natural daylight and that is protected from harsh winds and frost pockets.
When choosing a site, remember that hot air rises and cold air sinks, so the bottom of slopes can remain frosty longer than higher ground. Some gardens have areas that are damp or prone to surface water, due to poor drainage and lack of sunlight. Avoid locating your greenhouse in such positions.
The greenhouse should be built on level ground and with good soil, if you’re planning on planting in the ground inside the greenhouse. However, this is less important if you intend to use grow bags, pots or raised beds containing compost.
North, south, east or west?
Align your greenhouse ridge to make the most of the available sunlight
Image: Phil Darby
If you want to grow plants in your greenhouse all year round, including during the winter, make sure the ridge of the roof runs east-west to maximise light during the darkest months.
However, if you’re just going to use your greenhouse in spring and summer, it’s better if the ridge runs north-south so both sides of the greenhouse get an equal amount of light.
For lean-to greenhouses the best location is south-facing, with the supporting wall on the north side.
Avoid tall trees
Tall trees can give too much shade
It’s not a good idea to place a greenhouse underneath any tall trees as they greatly reduce the amount of sunlight that reaches your plants. This is made even worse when the glass gets dirty from bird droppings and sticky pollen. In bad weather or high winds, branches can break off, potentially smashing the glass panes.
However, it can be useful to use high walls, tall hedges and trees as a windbreak, provided they’re a suitable distance to provide shelter without blocking light. Wind chill factor can hugely reduce the interior temperature of your greenhouse so an effective barrier keeps plants warm and prevents wind damage during storms.
Give your greenhouse breathing space
Give yourself plenty of room to clean and maintain your greenhouse
Sheltering your greenhouse from cold winds will keep things warmer inside, but make sure there’s at least 1 metre of space around the entire outside perimeter. This gives you access to all sides in case a panel needs replacing, and makes it much easier to clean the glass. If you place the greenhouse just inches from a wall, months later you’ll regret the decision when the glass starts getting dirty, green algae starts to spread and you can’t clean it.
Make it easily accessible
Keep fresh produce close to your kitchen
Although you might have a perfect spot for the greenhouse at the bottom of a large garden, this might not be the most practical location if you need to be close to a water tap and have access to mains electricity for your heater. A position closer to the house will also make it more convenient to nip out for fresh fruit and vegetables whilst you’re cooking in the kitchen.
If you don’t have the perfect spot close to amenities, you can always collect rainwater from the greenhouse’s gutters to fill water butts. Paraffin heaters are a good alternative to electric ones and you can insulate your greenhouse with fleece if the temperature is set to drop significantly.
Shatterproof styrene glazing is safer than glass
Image: Syda Productions
If you have young children or visiting grandchildren it’s best to place the greenhouse away from the main area, where they play, if possible. Balls and greenhouse panes don’t mix very well! Also, if they’re running and chasing about there’s a risk they could trip and fall into the glass. Better yet, choose a sturdy wooden greenhouse fitted with shatterproof styrene that has been UV treated to protect plants from the sun’s harmful rays.
Walking into a greenhouse on a mild, but breezy day is a lovely experience. Still and warm, the air is filled with the gentle aroma of growing plants. As well as being a place to grow things, a greenhouse can also make a very pleasant setting for a drink or some lunch – set up a bistro set and some solar powered lights and it’s the ideal spot from which to enjoy your garden at the end of a busy day.
TIP 2: Positioning your Greenhouse
Positioning your Greenhouse:
We recommend placing your greenhouse close to your house or a place with easy access to water and electricity supplies. Avoid shade and exposed, draughty position. Your greenhouse should be situated lengthwise North to South to catch the maximum amount of light, on a surface with good drainage propensities.
One question that was asked frequently was, ‘how do I protect my greenhouse from strong winds…?’
Unfortunately ALL greenhouses are particularly vulnerable to wind damage. Of course, we have modified our designs to stand up to strong winds but we highly recommend that you take the potential threat of the wind to damage your greenhouse very seriously especially when it comes to positioning it, maintaining it and checking it on an ongoing basis.
Severe winds are so much more common nowadays- the kind of wind, which we used to see once every 10 years, now seems to come more than once a year!
If your area is prone to constant high winds we recommend you shelter your greenhouse by situating fences or hedging in the way of the prevailing winds. Also be aware that areas that look ‘sheltered’ may in fact be ‘wind tunnels’ (e.g. down the side of a house)
If the wind starts to pick up, make sure that your doors and roof vents are closed and stay closed during the wind. If you have a sliding door that has no catch to keep it closed, then you can secure it by drilling a hole in the top door track and inserting a padlock.
After the winds have past, make sure you check your greenhouse. Occasionally a customer has not realised that the polycarbonate panels have popped out of the channels. This is a dangerous situation because there is a gap in the greenhouse and if the wind gets up again it could cause some more damage.
TIP: Keep in mind when positioning your greenhouse that you need a minimum of 600mm clearance around the structure to be able to insert your polycarbonate sheets or glass panels easily.
Have any further questions regarding your greenhouse positioning? feel free to contact us on 1300 657 174 or [email protected]
Where to site a greenhouse
Where you place a new greenhouse or polytunnel can make the difference between growing success and failure, so it’s important to get it right.
Of course, there may only be one site for your greenhouse but if you do have a choice, it’s worth giving it the best possible position. You’ll need a spot with maximum light and sunshine, away from frost pockets and cold winds.
It may seem a shame to sacrifice a prime location or an already productive spot in your garden, but when you weigh up the increased benefits – being able to grow crops all year round, extending the growing season, raising seedlings and overwintering tender plants – it’s a sacrifice worth making.
More on greenhouse gardening:
- How to build a greenhouse
- Cleaning the greenhouse (video)
- Prepare your greenhouse for spring
Discover the six essentials of siting a greenhouse, below.
You’ll need a spot with maximum light and sunshine, away from frost pockets and cold winds.
Ensure your greenhouse has plenty of light
Cleaning greenhouse guttering
Don’t put your greenhouse directly under trees. They’ll cast shade, which encourages green algae to build up, blocking even more light, while falling branches and leaves can cause damage and block guttering. Honeydew from insects on the foliage of trees can make the glass or plastic sticky and dirty. Tree roots can also upset the foundations and make planting directly into the beds inside tricky.
Site your greenhouse where it’s convenient
Opening a greenhouse window
As you’ll be visiting your greenhouse regularly, particularly during the summer, make sure it’s easy to get to and as near to the house as possible. Whether your visits are for damping down, daily watering, opening and shutting doors and vents, or just nipping in to pick a few tomatoes for your lunch, you’ll want it to be close at hand.
Set your greenhouse on level ground
Gravel path next to a greenhouse
Avoid putting your greenhouse on a slope. Although it is technically possible, it would make things complicated, as the staging inside needs to be horizontal. Definitely don’t site it at the base of a slope, as this is often a frost pocket where coldness lingers – which doesn’t make for successful winter growing.
Site your greenhouse east to west
Greenhouse in winter
If you want to grow crops all year round, it’s best to line up the ridge of the structure to run east-west, as this will maximise light during the winter. It will also help it to heat up more quickly after cold nights. If you only intend to grow summer crops, aligning the ridge north-south is preferable as it gives an equal amount of sun to each side and helps to reduce overheating on the hottest days.
Make sure there’s space around your greenhouse
Opening a greenhouse sliding door
Ensure there’s at least 1m of space all around your structure. Not only does this make putting it up easier, but it’s useful when panes or covers need replacing, and when cleaning or simply walking past. Leaving this space will also mean that fences and other structures aren’t close enough to cast shade or hinder ventilation.
Provide good soil in your greenhouse
Raking soil in a greenhouse bed Advertisement
If you’re planning on planing directly in the beds inside your structure, choose a spot with decent soil, if you can, as you’ll be asking a lot from it. Poor soil can be improved by digging in organic matter, and raised beds an be a good option. Try to avoid stony or rocky ground, as it can make the construction process problematic.
Essential kit for your greenhouse
Once you’ve put up your greenhouse, there are some key things you’ll need. Find out more, in our guide to essential kit for a greenhouse.
How to Best Position Your Greenhouse or Polytunnel
If you intend on buying a greenhouse this year the first thing you must consider is the location. The location you choose will determine the success of the crops you grow as well as the durability and longevity of the structure. Also the area you have available will also determine the size and type of house you can get.
Greenhouse Polytunnel Lean-to Greenhouse
With that in mind the first thing worth mentioning is that you should always go for the largest that you can afford and fit into the space you’ve got. There is no doubt that within a half a growing season you will have filled your greenhouse and you’ll soon find yourself wanting more space. Because they can grow such a range of crops and ornamental plants it will become a though decision when it comes to choosing what to grow indoors and what to leave out in the cold.
With regard to positioning your greenhouse most people like to keep there’s inline with an existing fence, path, house or site boundary to make it fit in better. However polytunnels should be orientated along either a North- South axis or an East – West axis. This means that the front end should face due North and the back end should face due South (North – South axis) alternatively if the front end should face due East and the back end should face due West (East – West axis)
With a North – South orientation both sides of the greenhouse or polytunnel will receive equal amounts of light. With this in mind you can plan your layout and position plants with that in mind. With an East – West orientation one side of your polytunnel will be sunnier (south facing) and the other side (north facing) will be shadier. Therefore plants that benefit from shade such as tropical plants, many vegetables and for ornamental garden plants that are getting a boost before begin moved out into the garden. The sunnier side can be reserved for tomatoes, cucumbers and growing fruits.
Lastly; the greenhouse should be positioned in the brightest and sunniest location. Therefore avoid positioning on the north side of houses, sheds or walls. The greenhouse should receive at least 10 hours of sunlight in the summer. Positioning where the structure can receive the most morning sun is also beneficial. Plants like to receive sun early in the morning to allow for photosynthesis during the day. To receive the morning sun place structure to the West side of your garden so it looks towards the East. Remember that the sun is lower in the winter months than it is the summer, therefore longer shadows will be cast in the winter months meaning greater shading caused be surrounding buildings and trees. Positioning in a location that is open but sheltered from strong winds that can cause damage to the structure and glass panels over time. Therefore the best location for a greenhouse will probably be around 4 metres to the west and 1 metre to the north of an existing building, fencing or hedgerow, away from footballs and other flying objects, yet close enough to the home, a water supply and possibly electricity.
where is the best place for a greenhouse
When finding a site for a greenhouse, it is important to keep several things in mind.
What is the purpose of the greenhouse?
If the greenhouse is intended to produce crops in winter or protect non-hardy plants during the cold season a sunny location is important to maximize solar gain. The same would be true if the greenhouse is intended to propagate seeds for spring and summer. The location of trees is important because wind increases heat loss from greenhouse walls up to 50 percent, so having a site that is also protected from wind is ideal.
The best location for a greenhouse would be one that received maximum sunlight but was protected by trees from the wind.
If the greenhouse will be used in summer, positioning the greenhouse to take advantage of afternoon shade from trees will keep it cooler. The ideal would be a site with deciduous trees which would allow winter light in but keep out summer heat.
Is the site level?
It is possible for a sunny location to also be the lowest portion of a property, or be in a swale. Keep in mind that cold air will flow downhill, so avoid locating the greenhouse in an area where cold are will collect. If a site is hilly, cutting the greenhouse into a hill will be much more work, but will protect from heat loss.
Boring is at latitude 45.43. Above latitude 40, it is recommended that greenhouses be orientated east-west to let in more winter light.
Your plants will need water, so proximity to water or the ability to run a water line that will not freeze is important. Ability to build a path or road to the greenhouse should also be considered.
More information on operating a greenhouse can be found here:
Greenhouse Orientation and Location Tips
If you’re an avid gardener or someone who wants to try their hand at horticulture, you more than likely know the importance of good growing conditions. You want to make the most of the land you have to work with and keep your plants going for as much of the season as possible. Some plants need more sunlight than others while some enjoy heavy humidity. Many plants also need to be brought in for the winter, which can create a mess if you don’t have a lot of places to store them. The solution to all of this is a greenhouse.
Greenhouses are the perfect place to keep your plants safe from the weather and animals. But where to put the greenhouse? This article will cover greenhouse location, orientation, and positioning tips so you can get the most out of your greenhouse.
What is a Greenhouse?
A greenhouse is a structure that uses a special plastic covering to store heat inside it and reflect an adequate amount of sunlight on your plants. It can help you to grow plants year-round while keeping pests out. You can find them in a variety of styles so you can find a model that fits your yard perfectly.
There are a few major types of greenhouse to consider, and each has advantages and disadvantages. Most greenhouses are made of glass or polycarbonate, but buyers should also consider portable greenhouses and polytunnels. See here for information on polytunnels vs. greenhouses.
Why a Greenhouse is Good to Use
Greenhouses come with an incredible amount of benefits. Below are just a few that they offer.
Year-Round Fruits and Vegetables
Many often yearn for spring and summer because of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables. But that late fall and winter season is pretty difficult for many across the globe, as it is essentially impossible to grow many plants when it’s near freezing out.
With a greenhouse, you can extend your growing season by several weeks on both ends of the spectrum. Start earlier in the spring, and end later in the fall/winter.
This extended season is a huge boon to plant productivity, and can result in much greater yields overall.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to grow crops year round in a greenhouse, especially if you use a greenhouse heater.
Imagine being able to clip fresh sunflowers or zinnias in the middle of January. With a greenhouse in the right environment, you can. You can grow flowers throughout the year so you can adorn your living space with fragrant cuts.
Bring some spring cheer in the dead of winter!
The Ability to Grow Non-Local Plants
Some gardeners want to grow unique and rare forms of plants. However, many can’t because of the local climate or animals who might get to them.
Greenhouses can help you to grow interesting plants that you would otherwise be unable to, whether those plants be exotic palms, cactuses, or other unusual plants that simply don’t grow in your area.
Faster Plant Growth, Higher Yield
Because a greenhouse will trap heat and sunlight, plant will grow faster than they otherwise would. This way, you won’t have to wait months for vegetables or flowers to full form, but rather just a few weeks.
The greenhouse optimizes what plants love most, and can really make a huge difference when it comes to yield.
Siting Your Greenhouse
Before you setup your greenhouse, it’s important to plan out where to put it in your yard. Below are some helpful location tips to consider.
Distance from the House
Assuming the greenhouse you’re looking to setup is going to be on the same property as your home, you’ll want to consider how far you want the greenhouse to be from the home. Generally, the shorter the distance, the better.
If you want to run water and electricity to the greenhouse, the shorter the excavation, the less expensive the utility setup.
And perhaps most importantly, you want to consider that you’ll be using the greenhouse a lot in the winter, and that means going outside, perhaps in snowy conditions, to cross from the home to the greenhouse.
Are you going to want to trudge through the snow 30′ to the greenhouse? 50′? 100′? This is an important consideration! Many of us simply don’t want to go outside when there’s heavy snow on the ground, and a long walk through a challenging environment to get to the greenhouse may encourage us to skip it and curl up with some Netflix instead.
You generally want to ensure that your greenhouse is placed on level ground. It’s a good idea to check the base beforehand to make sure your greenhouse will stay secure on it. Depending on the design of the greenhouse, you may want it on concrete, wood, or other solid material. This way, it won’t sink or tilt.
If you don’t have much flat ground where you want to place your greenhouse, you may want to consider a polytunnel. These structures are much more forgiving when it comes to topography, and you may avoid having to do a costly excavation.
You also want to make sure the ground has good drainage. If not, water could collect underneath the structure and cause many problems, like mold.
Greenhouse Orientation and Sun Exposure
Depending on your goals for plant growth and plant type, there are two major schools of thought for greenhouse orientation.
There’s also a third major way of thinking, and that is to not worry so much about the greenhouse orientation, but instead focus on the plant orientation inside the greenhouse.
We’ll consider the three strategies here.
1. Capture as Much Morning Sun as Possible (orient north-south)
By orienting your greenhouse to capture as much of the morning sun as you can, you’ll help get the moisture off of the plants as early as possible during the day, and will help boost plant growth throughout the day.
If you’re looking to grow standard vegetables that ripen in summer and early fall, you’ll probably want to focus on this goal. Orient your greenhouse so that it is positioned in a north-south format.
However, in many areas, you run the risk of giving your plants too much sun, and therefore too much solar heat gain inside the greenhouse. In these cases, you may need to worry about getting rid of that heat through ventilation, pedestal fans, and the like.
2. Focus the Winter Sun (orient east-west)
Winter sun is a precious commodity in those cold months, and every drop of it helps! If you’re primarily using your greenhouse to grow fall, winter, and early spring plants, you’ll want to prioritize getting the winter sunlight into your structure.
In these cases, you’ll want to orient your greenhouse in an east-west position, to enable the more horizontal in the winter to strike the greenhouse as much as possible.
3. Orient the Plants, not the Greenhouse
This school of thought says don’t worry so much about the position of the greenhouse itself, as it’s going to get sun throughout the day if it’s in a sunny area. Many gardeners are going to be working with less-than-ideal situations, so just roll with it.
Instead, focus on positioning the plants inside the greenhouse to maximize light exposure when and where you want it.
This strategy is generally not ideal, but it works for both winter gardening and summer gardening. It requires that you learn how the plants grow best in your environment and that you position them inside the greenhouse to maximize their growth. And of course, this may lead you to times where you’d like to orient your crops in a diagonal direction inside your greenhouse, which makes for very awkward movement through the space!
Water Source Location
Water is the other key ingredient in a greenhouse, so you want to be sure that you have easy access to water wherever you choose to put your greenhouse. Remember that if you have a hose running to your greenhouse, it can freeze between the main house and the greenhouse if it’s not buried an appropriate distance underground.
If you have a small greenhouse, you can probably just use buckets and do it the old-fashioned way. Alternately, you can run your hose in and out of the greenhouse each time you water.
But it may be best to have a water line run to the location of the greenhouse prior to pouring the foundation base, or setting up the greenhouse.
Electrical Outlet Location
Besides a water source, it’s also a good idea to make sure you put your greenhouse near a spot with an electrical outlet. This will help you to plug necessary equipment in without needing to use extension cords. It’s especially important there’s an electric outlet in your greenhouse as you need to run a fan inside to keep air circulation moving.
Be sure you consider the overall load of all the items you plan to have running in your greenhouse. Should you want a heater or two, some lights, a misting fan, a TV (ok, kidding there!) you’ll probably want to increase the overall amperage on your breaker to compensate for the significant load you’ll be using up.
Proximity to Trees and Windy Areas
Another important tip to keep in mind is to keep the structure away from trees if possible. Tree branches could accidentally fall on your greenhouse, which will not only damage it but could destroy your plants inside. Because of this, it’s a good idea to stay safe and make sure your greenhouse is far away from trees.
If there happens to also be a particularly windy area in your yard, make sure to keep the greenhouse away from that. The covering of a greenhouse is strong, but not durable enough to withstand heavy wind. If you don’t want to have to keep replacing its plastic shell, make sure to keep it away from windy areas in your yard.
Consider Kid Play Areas
Plants that live in glass houses don’t throw stones, but kids who play near greenhouses sometimes throw balls. That’s what they say, anyway!
If you have kids who like to play sports, there’s always a concern about an errant baseball or golfball smashing into your greenhouse. Consider the location where your kids typically play, and try to keep the greenhouse a distance from that area, as well as out of a direct line from that area.
Conclusion: Greenhouse Location and Setup
Greenhouses are the perfect addition to add to your yard for many reasons. Not only will a greenhouse allow you to grow plants at various times of the year, but the plants will be sheltered and nourished.
If you’re looking for a way to grow exotic flowers or just to keep up your gardening hobby year-round, a greenhouse is an ideal item to add to your yard.
Site your greenhouse with care, and do the best you can to maximize your plant yield, while minimizing your headaches.
Determining Greenhouse Location & Orientation
Posted March 2nd, 2011 by Garden & Greenhouse in Greenhouse & Indoor Gardening Articles, June 2011
In the last two issues, we took a look at a needs assessment, and greenhouse design and materials as two general areas of consideration for those of us trying to decide whether a greenhouse is a good place for our green thumb adventures. In this installment, I’d like to discuss location and orientation as two additional factors to consider. After all, you can have an intense desire for a greenhouse, but if you don’t have the space, can’t conveniently locate it, or you just can’t achieve proper orientation, it might not be advisable to purchase or build one.
Selecting a location for a greenhouse is usually not an issue for a commercial operator. Typically, they have sufficient land available to dedicate to their greenhouse gardening operations. So, let’s focus on homestead and homeowner gardeners with respect to greenhouse location.
First and foremost, it would be advisable to have your greenhouse conveniently located to your home. It won’t be any fun if you have to walk 100 yards to get to your greenhouse, so having your garden a good distance from the house could be sufficiently discouraging to you. If you think about hiking out a good distance, each time you need to visit the greenhouse, nearly every task will become more of a chore. To minimize this effect, keep the distance between where you resid
e and where you garden as short as reasonably possible.
Consider for a moment, weather conditions and how they might influence your greenhouse gardening activities. Whether you’re trying to start seedlings in the spring, harvest during the summer and fall, or push the envelope by harvesting well into the winter months, foul weather won’t be pleasant if you have to walk a great distance through it all to get to your greenhouse.
In my neck of the woods, we get snowdrifts that are completely impassable by any normal four-wheel drive vehicle. Those snowdrifts can occur between one of my greenhouses and my home. I don’t mind slogging through three and four foot high drifts that are 15 to 20 feet wide, but I wouldn’t be happy doing it for a distance of more than 30 to 50 feet. That’s why our “kitchen greenhouse” is within 20 feet of the house.
If your greenhouse will be a new construction project, you’ll want to provide water and electricity to support it. The farther away you place your greenhouse, the longer and more difficult your trenching efforts will be. So, consider the origins of essential resources like electricity and water when you consider the location of your indoor gardening space.
One last consideration with respect to locating your greenhouse; assume you’re interested in a greenhouse that uses standard greenhouse film. Such material is susceptible to damage from animals, high winds, falling tree branches, and other human activity that might not be present when you make your initial site assessment. With this in mind, it should be clear that a greenhouse next to a ball field or other play area, or a greenhouse within the distance of windblown branches from nearby trees are both unwise choices. A location up on an especially windy ridge is also undesirable. To avoid unknowingly subjecting your greenhouse to hazards such as these, think through daily activities, normal and abnormal weather conditions, and generally envision a range of undesirable scenarios in your mind to see if any of them present an unreasonable hazard to your future greenhouse or the crops you intend to grow within it.
There are basically three schools of thought with respect to greenhouse orientation; 1) capture the morning sun; 2) capture the winter sun; and, 3) orient plant growth instead of the building. For this discussion, let’s assume that you have a rectangular shape in mind for your gardening structure, since it is by far the most common style.
Morning sunshine is important to stimulate growth, to remove condensation from leaves, and to get your plants off to a good start each day. This is typically the interest of greenhouse gardeners who focus their efforts on summer vegetables. If this is your interest, my suggestion is to orient your greenhouse in a North and South direction. Such an orientation promotes full capture of the morning sun and allows the sun’s rays to penetrate between your plants as it travels up and over the width of your greenhouse. This orientation assumes that your plantings are in rows oriented perpendicular to the length of the structure.
For those with an interest in fall, winter and spring greenhouse gardening, an orientation of the greenhouse in an East to West manner will make more sense. Such an orientation helps capture the sun’s rays that are much lower on the horizon during those times of the year.
The third approach to orientation is applicable to the both summer and off-season gardeners, and for those of us who don’t have an ideal location that would allow for our preferred orientation of the gardening structure. This approach requires that we orient our crops such that we achieve our summer or off-season gardening objectives by understanding how the sun travels across the sky and through our greenhouse.
This is clearly a fallback position at best because growing crops diagonally in relationship to the greenhouse won’t be convenient at all. In any event, a greenhouse gardener will want to plant crops in such a manner as to eliminate tall plants shading shorter ones, and then orient the rows of plantings to best capture the sun, all the while being mindful that plant orientation and pathways in the greenhouse need to be convenient for the gardener.
Good Enough Sometimes
I don’t want to downplay the importance of location or orientation, but sometimes a compromise that seems good enough is, in fact, just that. As an example, if you live in some western and southern states, you might enjoy an abundance of sunshine. My experience in Wyoming suggests that even a poorly oriented greenhouse will still suffer from too much solar gain simply because in the average year more than 70 % of our days are sunny. Our biggest challenge here is venting the greenhouse during the summer so it doesn’t overheat. If you have a similar situation where you live, then perhaps orientation won’t play such a crucial role in your success.
Likewise, if your greenhouse isn’t exactly convenient to your home, you might be able to overlook this simply because running water lines and electric lines will only be done once, and if you’re enthusiastic about your gardening pursuits, perhaps a little distance won’t be an issue. It’s up to the individual to decide when location and orientation is crucial to their success and continued enjoyment, and when a compromise is in order.
Clair Schwan enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in his homemade greenhouses, and he pushes the envelope of harvest well into the winter months. For him, greenhouse gardening is essential as high winds, hail and a dry environment are just too challenging for a traditional outdoor garden plot at his homestead. See his homemade greenhouses at Frugal-Living-Freedom.com and make use of his gardening advice at Vegetable-Gardening-and-Greenhouses.com.
Growing plants in a greenhouse, whether edible or ornamental, requires a little work beforehand. Learn from these common mistakes and have a successful growing season.
Too much humidity can allow mold spores and diseases to run rampant in your greenhouse; too little and the plants will die of thirst.
Do research ahead of time to group plants together with similar humidity needs. Grow them at the same time, or build more than one smaller greenhouse, if space permits.
Misting is an excellent way to increase humidity- find out how much your plants need.
Even in the winter, your plants may need shade from the sun. The greenhouse cover increases heat inside, so have a system to shade the plants when the sun glares.
Different shading materials are available at DIY stores and and even directly from Amazon. You can pull them over the roof, have them mounted on a pulley system against the inside of the greenhouse ceiling, or have an electronic monitor and motor system automatically pull the shades for you according to the amount of UV sunlight. This system, of course, will be more expensive than manual.
Mighty Products Heavy Duty Shade Mesh Tarp, 12 x 12-Feet
Without air circulation, the plants will succumb to disease and die. If the greenhouse has no vents, then on sunny days, even in the coldest winter, the heat will rise inside and could cook your plants.
Several manufacturers offer automatic greenhouse ventilation systems, both for AC power (hooked up to an outside outlet), or for battery or solar power. This saves you from having to run outside, opening and closing windows all day.
During the night, the winter temperatures drop dramatically. Even in areas such as south Texas and Florida, greenhouse heaters are needed when temperatures drop below freezing.
Do not use a regular house heater for your greenhouse. They are not made for a moist or outdoor environment. Only purchase a heater rated and designed for a greenhouse, and use an outdoor surge protector and outdoor rated power cord.
Growing the right plants is as important as all the rest put together. Once you’ve looked at your “dream list” of plants, you’ll realize space is the issue for your plants.
If you regularly grow vine plants, such as tomatoes, squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers, etc., you’ll want to research and find varieties bred for container growing. Bush varieties of squash require no staking or vines.
Plants that are too tall may cause too much shading of other plants. They may come in contact with the greenhouse covering, encouraging disease, mold and mildew growth.
For a greenhouse, filling containers with common garden soil would be a disaster. Soil compacts, killing the roots. In large containers, the top part of the soil dries out while the bottom of the container becomes bogged with water. The containers become far too heavy to safely lift or move.
Use potting soils that have no garden soil in them. A common practice in hydroponic culture is to grow the plants in peat moss or coir (coconut fiber).
Study the fertilizer and feeding requirements of your plants before you begin. Plants may have different requirements than the standard “feeds-everything” fertilizer. Keep a supply on hand for all your plants.
Try grouping your plants according to fertilizer/water/shade needs, or use a marker system to tell you each plant’s requirements. For example, a plant may need more shade like it’s pretty neighbor, but it’s fertilizer requirement may be different. A marker, colored tag or sticker tells you what your plant needs.
By studying ahead, your greenhouse growing season will be successful and tasty.
Want to build your own greenhouse? You’ll love these DIY projects from some of our favorite bloggers.
Orientation and siting a greenhouse
The orientation of the greenhouse is typically north-south. A lot of emphasis internationally is placed on orientation to maximise light interception in the greenhouse. This is not such an issue in Australia because our light levels are much higher.
Shadows cast by gutters, trusses and equipment in the roof of the greenhouse can lead to uneven light conditions in the crop. As the sun moves from the east to the west during the day, the shadows of the greenhouse structure will also move. An east-west alignment creates structural shadows in the same part of the crop through the day which can affect crop productivity and plant health in this area. Subsequently, to minimise shading effects, greenhouses are generally oriented north-south.
In southern areas of Australia, an east-west orientation may result in slightly more light transmission, but the need for cooling and ventilation is a more important factor under Australian conditions. As you go further north, there is even less difference in light transmission which ever way a greenhouse is oriented. Again, cooling and ventilation and therefore the direction of prevailing winds should be the primary consideration in orienting a structure.
Crop rows are also typically aligned north-south to minimise shading within the crop. In most areas, vents will be on the east and west. The direction of prevailing winds should be taken into consideration, with structures oriented to take advantage of cooling summer breezes.
Where fans are used for forced ventilation, they should be positioned to minimise any likely impact on neighbours.
When siting a greenhouse, you also need to take into consideration the shading effect of vegetative screens and windbreaks. Locating greenhouses against a tree line will result in lower yields because of reduced light levels. Greenhouse covering materials near trees will also become quite dirty, further reducing light transmission.
When siting a greenhouse;
- Favour a property with natural visual screening;
- Consider proximity to key markets;
- Prevent a direct line of sight between the development and adjoining dwellings or roadways;
- Locate new developments, such as additional greenhouses, behind existing structures;
- Locate structures with sufficient setbacks from roadsides and boundaries;
- Use landscaping, mounding and vegetation to soften the impact of the development;
- Keep existing vegetation and landforms wherever practical;
- Consider transport routes and the availability of labour and services;
- Avoid development in areas that are visually prominent or which are highly exposed, such as ridgelines;
- Locate structures so that they follow the contours of the land;
- Avoid locating structures on steep slopes (greater than 1 in 5);
- Check potential impacts of adjacent land uses in terms of pests, diseases and weeds;
- Take note of adjacent sensitive areas (eg. wetlands, waterways, native vegetation) and site greenhouses appropriately.
Best Position for a Greenhouse – Where to Site a Greenhouse
One of the things people often forget is to give enough thought to where they are going to put their greenhouse. The correct situation of the greenhouse will make a huge difference to its utility for you.
Planning Permission & Security
Not the ideal place to put a greenhouse; shaded by trees and bushes
A normal garden greenhouse will not usually require planning permission but a lean-to greenhouse on the house may possibly be counted as part of an extension or there may be rules on positioning a distance from the boundary. If in doubt, call your local council who will tell you exactly where you stand.
On the allotment, it will depend on your individual site’s rules. Again, just check with your site rep or manager, who will be able to give you guidance.
Both on the allotment and in some gardens, you need to consider security. Some kids just love the sound of breaking glass and throwing stones over the fence is an easy sport. So consider the position and if there is a real threat and you cannot site out of harm’s way, plastic glass may be the best answer for you.
Allow room to get around your greenhouse. Trying to fit a new pane of glass in a confined space is not easy and if your greenhouse is by a path, try to set it back to allow plenty of room to get past with a wheelbarrow.
Light and Shelter
You need as much light as possible so site the greenhouse away from buildings and trees or bushes. Apart from shading your greenhouse, leaves will get into the gutters and sticky honeydew dropping from insects in a tree above your house will foul the glass causing dirt and grime to stick causing more problems.
Avoid north facing slopes because the light will never be as good as your want.
Whilst you want to be some distance from trees, hedges, fences etc, these can also be useful if they are between the house and the prevailing winds. Reducing wind will really help keep the temperature up in the key times of spring and autumn and avoid the risk of your greenhouse being damaged in a storm.
Avoiding building at the base of a slope as these are often frost pockets where cold air collects in a layer. This will cause your greenhouse to be colder, defeating the object.
Level ground is best, avoiding water running into the house and making construction easier.
Ensure the land is well drained because this will enable you to cultivate the border soil at any time of year without it being too sticky.
The ideal greenhouse will have water and electricity laid on, even gas if you want central heating, which I have seen in some greenhouses. So do take the availability of services and how you will run them to your greenhouse into account,
Orientation of the Greenhouse
Some say North to South and some say East to West but for the average home greenhouse it doesn’t really matter, so don’t worry about it. The exception is, of course, a lean-to greenhouse where the ideal is to have the wall on the North side but even a North facing greenhouse is better than no greenhouse
Conclusion on Siting a Greenhouse
Often there’s no perfect place to put your greenhouse. It’s a compromise between conflicting factors. The thing is to avoid the worst pitfalls. Even a badly placed greenhouse is better than no greenhouse at all!
Greenhouse Growing, Coldframes etc. Further information
From The Allotment Shop
- Harrod Superior Greenhouses
- Rion Greenhouses
- Elite Greenhouses
- Janssens Greenhouses
- Halls Greenhouses
- Cedar Greenhouses
- Wooden Greenhouses Compared to Aluminium
- Greenhouse Heating Guide – Various Types Reviewed
- Second Hand Greenhouse – Buying, Dismantling and Re-building a Greenhouse
- Greenhouses in High Winds – Protect and Survive!
- Greenhouse Accessories for Heating and Ventilation
- Fitting out the Greenhouse: Shelving, Staging & Greenhouse Benches
- Watering the Greenhouse – Equipment to Help Greenhouse Watering
- Portable Greenhouses – Patio Greenhouses and Allotment Greenhouses
- Managing the Hobby Greenhouse
- Cold Frames – Uses of Coldframes – Types of Coldframe
- How to Build a Cold Frame for Free!
- An Indoor Greenhouse – The Dewpoint Propagating & Growing Cabinet
- Choosing a Greenhouse – What Greenhouse to Buy