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Choosing a greenhouse

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.

Position

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.

Material

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.
>br> 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.

Glazing

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.

Accessories

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.