Greenhouses are available in a number of shapes, sizes,
and materials with added options such as heating or ventilation features. A greenhouse
allows you to control the temperature, light and amount of air your plants receive,
ensuring optimum growing conditions. When choosing your greenhouse, consider what
it will be used for and the amount of space available.
The first decision you will need to make is where to site your greenhouse.
Ideally, you need a position that receives the maximum hours of sunlight, in order
for your plants to flourish. Avoid shady areas and low or uneven ground. You will
need to site your greenhouse on a solid foundation, and ensure that it is firmly
bolted to a base (usually supplied or available separately). Proximity to the
house is advised if you wish to install a heating or watering system, as the closer
to the central supplies, the better.
Freestanding or lean-to?
While greenhouses come in a variety of shapes, there are two basic types, freestanding
or lean-to. A freestanding structure can be placed in the ideal position for receiving
light and has the advantage of allowing more sunlight to reach your plants. Lean-to
structures are perfect for gardens where space is limited, and also have the advantage
of additional insulation from the side of the house.
There are two basic materials used for greenhouse construction, aluminum or wood.
Your choice will depend on personal preference and how much time you wish to spend
on its upkeep. The main advantages of aluminum are that it is lightweight, making
it easy to move and it requires no maintenance. The addition of a green powder
coating allows the greenhouse to blend with the surrounding garden.
Wooden greenhouses are usually constructed from cedar wood, although soft wood
is also used. Wood will retain heat better than aluminum, but the level of maintenance
is higher. Timber will need to be painted regularly and treated with preservative
at least every three years.
Horticultural glass (3mm)
is the standard type of glass used for domestic greenhouses. For safety, toughened
glass is the best option, check that your glass meets the BS6206 Class A standard.
Glass is generally secured to the frame using a clip system.
Heating, watering and ventilation options may be included with the purchase
of your greenhouse, or may be available to buy as optional extras. Ensure your
greenhouse has a least one ventilation vent as standard. You will need to use
appropriate staging with drainage to support plants and if necessary install capillary
matting for watering and add additional roof vents to ensure optimum results.
Buying and installing
Greenhouses may be purchased as a complete
unit, or may be sold in sections, allowing you to add additional middle panels
to give extra space if required. When buying separate sections, ensure you have
a back, front and middle panel, as well as the right sized base for your structure.
Most greenhouses require DIY installation and will include a comprehensive instruction
booklet. If you have never erected a greenhouse before, you may wish to enlist
the help of a professional installer.