A Guide to Greehouses

Why a Greenhouse?

So you’ve exhausted the possibilities of what the great British climate will allow you to grow outdoors, where do you go from here? The answer is to take control of the climate with the aid of a greenhouse. A greenhouse allows you to grow plants that need sanctuary from the cold harsh conditions found outside, or those that require higher temperatures. It also allows you to artificially extend the growing season, you can start spring early, or delay the onset of spring if you need to. Classic summer greenhouse crops include delicate veggies that you’d struggle to grow outside such as tomatoes and peppers, so if salads are your thing, read on!

How to Choose?

Just like anything else, the market is literally saturated with different greenhouse designs, from the traditional house shaped, to geodesic domes and everything in between. Regardless of your preference, aim for the biggest and best quality you can. The last thing you want is to run out of space or for the greenhouse to collapse under a moderate gust.

If space is tight you might want to opt for a lean to type greenhouse. With this arrangement one of the exterior walls of your house doubles as one of the walls of the greenhouse, typically at the side of the house where no windows or doors will be obstructed. As well as being compact and cost effective, this method also has the advantage of being able to use some of the residual heat from the wall to keep the contents of the greenhouse warm.

Trap The Sun

If you have control over where you site your greenhouse then you should obviously aim to put it in a sunny spot. Ideally you want all sides to be able to take on sunlight throughout the day, though of course this isn’t always possible, but where you can avoid positioning your greenhouse near tall structures such as fences and other sheds to avoid shadows being cast over it for much of the day.

Build a solid Structure

Your greenhouse should be built on a firm foundation, or else you might find yourself with a leaning tower of greenhouse at some point down the line. If you can opt for a solid concrete base, but whatever you choose, whether wooden sleepers or bricks, ensure the base is solid as a rock.

Choose a framework that will stand the test of time, whether a treated hardwood, or aluminium, you want something that won’t rot and fall apart. After all, it’ll be subject to the full force of the elements all year round, not just when you’re using the greenhouse and inspecting it regularly.

When it comes to glazing all greenhouses are terrible at retaining heat, so unless you’re really planning on splashing out, don’t set about building a double glazed, cavity wall insulated home from home. Instead the only real consideration is one of safety, if you’ve got children or pets, opt for polycarbonate glazing. This is unlikely to break, but it will discolour and go cloudy after several years. If there are no boisterous bodies flailing around you can use a single glazed standard glass. Even the poorest quality glass will probably last a couple of hundred years or more (providing it doesn’t break in the meantime of course) so this is quite a good investment!

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