Greenhouses present the perfect gardening environment irrespective of the time of year. But a greenhouse can only be as beneficial to you as your planning and preparation is. You need to have the right foundation for your greenhouse’ success by ensuring it is fitted with all required functionality such as water, electricity, ventilation, air conditioning, cooling and heating.
Of all factors however, there is one that plays the biggest part in determining whether your greenhouse will be both efficient and effective – location. While the primary strength of a greenhouse lies in the ability to control climactic conditions inside it, the factors outside and around the greenhouse are also important. These ‘location factors’ must be taken into consideration before a final decision on the greenhouse site is made.
a. Sunlight – Greenhouses in Northern Hemisphere regions such as Europe and North America should have their south exposed with the top ridge aligned from east to west. This ensures the greenhouse has ample natural lighting. Sunlight is one factor you absolutely must get right so there is no harm engaging a solar architect just to make double sure. Remember that it is not only about getting the most sunlight into the greenhouse but also regulating the sunlight that does go in – too much sunlight would generate heat and damage the plants inside. You need to get just the right angle for optimum sunlight – the average greenhouse requires about 5 hours of sunlight per day.
b. Proximity – If you are putting up a greenhouse in your compound, constructing it close to your home makes it convenient for you to quickly pop in and pick some fresh fruits, veggies or herbs to add to your meals. Proximity will also make it easier to supply the greenhouse with electricity and water in the event the greenhouse’s own utilities are temporarily unavailable or non-functional.
c. Protection from the wind – An often ignored factor, wind can be detrimental to a greenhouse in more ways than just knocking down a poorly constructed greenhouse. A greenhouse that is continuously pounded by strong winds is likely to lose more heat than is necessary which can have disastrous results for the plants inside especially during the cold autumn and winter months. Strong winds can also physically damage the greenhouse’ cooling vents.
d. Soil fertility – If you will be planting on the ground (as opposed to containers) the soil’s fertility is an important consideration. Soil that appears rocky or deprived of nutrients may need to be excavated and turned over, to bring the soil below it to the top. Excavation will also give you the opportunity to completely get rid of weeds as these could become a stubborn nuisance at a later stage.
e. Utilities – A greenhouse needs water, electricity, air conditioning and a good drainage system. When choosing the site of your greenhouse, opt for locations that already have these or where there are no physical barriers to getting these utilities to the greenhouse.
The Bottom Line – You should view the construction of a permanent greenhouse as a one-shot decision. Pulling down a greenhouse to relocate it can be expensive. Therefore, carefully weigh all factors and carry out extensive research to be certain that your choice of location is indeed the best of the options at your disposal.