Greenhouses can make gardening easier by providing shelter for tender seedlings and a warm environment for growing plants in colder months. This is especially true for gardeners who live in areas with short growing seasons, but gardeners in warmer environments can also benefit from owning a greenhouse. Greenhouses are available in a variety of styles and sizes to meet most gardening needs.
The ideal spot for a greenhouse is one that receives the most sunshine throughout the day. Placing the greenhouse on the southeast side of a house will provide ample sun exposure. Greenhouses that can’t be placed on the southeast side of a house should be positioned to receive morning sunlight. Greenhouses need to be located in a spot that is convenient and accessible for both the gardener and the utilities that will be used to heat the greenhouse.
Lean-tos are half greenhouses attached to a house or garage. Lean-tos provide easy access but can have space limitations depending on the size of the building supporting the lean-to. Free-standing greenhouses provide the most space and are ideal for homes on large lots. Free-standing units can be located to achieve ideal sun conditions but will also require additional wiring and water lines that will increase the cost of installing the greenhouse. Window-mounted greenhouses are good for small houses or for gardeners who require only a small growing space.
Greenhouses can be enclosed with glass, plastic or fiberglass. Plastic options include polycarbonate or film. Film has to be replaced more often but is inexpensive. Polycarbonate is available in a double layer that retains heat well but receives less light than other types. Clear fiberglass is an option for hail-prone areas because the fiberglass is more resistant to hail than plastic or glass. Glass is the best choice for receiving the most light but is expensive to install.
Greenhouses can help gardeners get an early start on planting, especially for gardeners who start their plants from seed. Using a greenhouse can prolong the growing season and is ideal for gardeners living in colder regions with short growing seasons. Greenhouses also provide opportunities for growing more varieties of plants or for plant propagation. Gardeners interested in growing flowers and vegetables for winter enjoyment can get year-round use out of a greenhouse.
Greenhouses need to receive the proper amount of heat and water to maintain healthy plants. In the summer, shades can be used to protect plants from harsh sun rays. In winter, greenhouses will need a heating system to keep plants warm when outside temperatures turn frigid. Watering plants with different watering needs is also a consideration when setting up a greenhouse. Grouping plants with similar watering needs together will prevent any over- or underwatering issues.